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The National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCTSI) raises awareness about the impact of trauma on children and adolescents as a behavioral health concern.

Congress, recognizing the serious mental health impact of traumatic events on children, adolescents, and families, authorized in 2000 the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCTSI), as part of the Children’s Health Act. NCTSI’s goal is to transform mental health care for children and adolescents affected by trauma throughout the country by improving the quality of community-based trauma treatment and services and increasing access to effective trauma-focused interventions.

NCTSI develops and implements:

  • Evidence-based interventions to reduce the debilitating mental health impact of traumatic experiences on children and adolescents
  • Collaborations with all systems of care where children and adolescents who have experienced trauma receive services
  • Successful education and training approaches, including training practitioners in trauma-informed and evidence-based treatment and services
  • Data collection and evaluation activities
  • Education and awareness raising with policymakers regarding trauma, resilience, and recovery
  • Product development for professionals, policymakers, families, youth, and the public
  • Partnerships with youth, families, and other consumers

Download the trifold brochure, National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative: Helping Kids Recover and Thrive - 2015 (PDF | 9 MB). This brochure is also available in single-page form (PDF | 944 KB).

A Collaborative Approach

Through this initiative, a collaborative network of experts was created to further the development and dissemination of evidence-based clinical interventions for systems that serve children, adolescents, and families. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) is made up of SAMHSA representatives, in cooperation with four distinct groups of grantees and stakeholders:

  • The National Center for Child Traumatic Stress (NCCTS) works to promote leadership and collaboration across NCTSN and serves as a national resource center to disseminate NCTSN program and intervention products.
  • Treatment and Service Adaptation centers identify, develop, support, and improve treatment approaches for different types of trauma that children and adolescents experience.
  • Community Treatment and Services centers provide services to children who have experienced traumatic events by implementing and evaluating the effectiveness of trauma treatment and services in community and service system settings.
  • Affiliate members, made up of more than 160 formerly funded NCTSN members, continue to contribute to the national mission and ongoing work in their states and local communities.

To find a network member site near you, visit NCTSN's member finder.

NCTSN Contributions

Established in 2000, the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCTSI) aims to improve behavioral health services and interventions for children and adolescents exposed to traumatic events. SAMHSA has provided funding for a national network of grantees known as the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) to develop and promote effective community practices for children and adolescents exposed to a wide array of traumatic events. The NCTSN has grown from a collaborative network of 17 centers to 116 funded and over 150 affiliate centers located nationwide in universities, hospitals, and a range of diverse community-based organizations with thousands of national and local partners. The NCTSN’s mission is to raise the standard of care and improve access to evidence-based services for children experiencing trauma, their families, and communities. A component of this work has been the development of resources and delivery of training and consultation to support the development of trauma- informed child-serving systems. Network members work together within and across diverse settings, including a wide variety of governmental and non-governmental organizations.

The NCTSN continues to be a principal source of child trauma information and training for the nation. In FY 2020, NCTSN grantee sites provided trauma-informed training to over 570,000 individuals. Since its inception, the NCTSN has provided training on best practices and other aspects of child trauma to over 2 million participants throughout the country. The NCTSI Learning Center now has over 250,000 users accessing evidence-based child trauma resource.

Data collected in FY 2020 demonstrate that the current NCTSN grantees provided screening to over 45,569 individuals and evidence-based treatment to over 50,000 children, adolescents, and family members. Over eighty percent reported positive functioning at six months. In addition, thousands more youth and families have benefited indirectly from the training and consultation provided by NCTSN grantees to organizations that deliver evidence-based trauma interventions to various communities throughout the country.

Learn more about SAMHSA’s Efforts to Address Trauma and Violence.

Last Updated

Last Updated: 04/21/2022