NCTSN and Public Policy

Collaborative work with policymakers has been an essential part of the mission and activities of the NCTSN since it began in 2000 as part of the Children’s Health Act. The NCCTS, the coordinating center for the NCTSN, has emphasized education and awareness raising about child trauma policy issues at the federal, state, and local levels and in partnership with national organizations and agencies.

NCCTS policy activities are guided by Ellen Gerrity, PhD, NCCTS Associate Director and Senior Policy Advisor, and Diane Elmore, PhD, MPH, Policy Program Director, in collaboration with the NCTSN Policy Task Force.

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NCCTS Policy Activities

The NCCTS policy activities include the following:

  1. Education and Awareness Raising—Sharing information about child trauma and the NCTSN with federal and state representatives and other policymakers through individual communications or by participating in congressional briefings and other events.
  2. Policy Capacity Building—Providing leadership, education, and training for NCTSN members, affiliates, and partners on issues related to policy, advocacy, and strategies for effectively working with policymakers. Offering trainings at conferences, through NCTSN webinars, and through individual technical assistance. The NCCTS Policy Program also maintains and provides leadership for the NCTSN Policy Task Force, a policy leadership and advisory group made up of NCTSN members, affiliates, and partners.
  3. NCTSN/NCCTS Policy Consultation and Mentoring—Providing consultation to other NCCTS programs, NCTSN collaborative groups, and individual sites regarding specific policy issues related to the NCTSN mission.
  4. Policy Product and Resource Development—Collaborating with the NCCTS Product Development Team, the NCTSN Policy Task Force, and individual NCCTS programs to develop and disseminate a range of policy resources for professionals, the public, and policymakers about child traumatic stress and the NCTSN.
  5. Maintain and Expand Policy Partnerships—Supporting information and resource exchange with key partners, including NCTSN Advisory Board members, through participation in national coalitions and collaborative briefings and events for policymakers and key stakeholders.


NCTSN Policy Task Force

The NCTSN Policy Task Force is a policy leadership and advisory group composed of NCTSN members and affiliates, as well as key partners. The Policy Task Force is led by Diane Elmore, PhD, MPH, with support from Lauren Absher, MSW, Program Coordinator for Policy and Partnerships.

2015-2016 Policy Task Force Members

  • Jerry Dunn, PhD, Children’s Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis
  • Betsy McAlister Groves, LICSW, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Al Killen-Harvey, LCSW, Chadwick Center for Children and Families
  • Teresa Huizar, MA, National Children’s Alliance
  • Kelly Kinnish, PhD, Georgia Center for Child Advocacy, Inc.
  • Tony Mannarino, PhD, Allegheny General Hospital-Singer Research Institute
  • Sandra Spencer, Mediation Center for Eastern North Carolina
  • Elizabeth Thompson, PhD, Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress at Kennedy Krieger Institute
  • Pamela Vona, MA, University of Southern California

2014-2015 Policy Task Force Members

  • Robert Abramovitz, PhD, Fordham University & Hunter College Schools of Social Work
  • Christopher Blodgett, PhD, Washington State University
  • Chris Bray, PhD, University of Minnesota, Ambit Network
  • Dave Corwin, MD, University of Utah
  • Julian Ford, PhD, University of Connecticut
  • Lynn Garst, Colorado Department of Health and Environment, Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response
  • Abi Gewirtz, PhD, University of Minnesota, Ambit Network
  • Al Killen-Harvey, LCSW, Chadwick Center for Children and Families
  • Teresa Huizar, MA, National Children’s Alliance
  • Brian Isakson, PhD, University of New Mexico
  • Tony Mannarino, PhD, Allegheny General Hospital, Singer Research Institute
  • Rick van den Pol, PhD, University of Montana
  • Walter Howard Smith, PhD, Allegheny County Department of Human Services
  • Sandra Spencer, Mediation Center for Eastern North Carolina
  • Elizabeth Thompson, PhD, Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress at Kennedy Krieger Institute
  • Marleen Wong, PhD, University of Southern California


Use the links below to find policy resources related to research, education, and training, including NCTSN products and materials developed by the NCCTS Policy Program and the NCTSN Policy Task Force.

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Understanding Child Trauma and the NCTSN (2014) (PDF)

Child Traumatic Stress: What Every Policymaker Should Know (2008) (PDF)
This guide was developed to educate policymakers about the scope and impact of childhood trauma, to offer effective solutions that can be implemented with the support of informed public policy, and to provide information about additional resources.

Policy Brief Series:

The Impact of Natural and Technological Disasters on Children, Families, and Communities (2016) (PDF)
This resource provides an overview of natural and technological disasters and their relationship to child trauma. The resource also offers policy-relevant, child trauma-focused recommendations to assist policymakers in their response to natural and technological disasters.

Federal Reports:

To access the federal resources of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, please visit: and

For more information related to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or to learn about your SAMHSA Regional Administrator or HHS Regional Office, please visit the following websites:


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Childhood Adversities Narrative (2015)
A resource designed to help inform policymakers and the public about the costs of child trauma, child maltreatment, and adversity, and about proven interventions and opportunities that can change the narrative. For more information, please visit:

Policy briefs derived from NCTSN Core Data Set publications:


NCCTS Topic Alerts provide full publication details for new additions to PILOTS (Published International Literature on Traumatic Stress), MEDLINE, and PsycINFO. Archived ALERTS are available at:

National and Community Partners Report (2011) (PDF)
NCCTS National Community and Partners Report (2011): Together with the UCLA/Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress the centers that comprise the National Child Traumatic Stress Network—including currently funded and affiliate members—work collaboratively within the Network and in their communities to create and support sustainable, mutually beneficial relationships with governmental and non-governmental bodies. This report includes information from 2011 indicating the scope and nature of such partnerships.

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Education and Training

Effectively Communicating with Policymakers (2014) (PDF)
This resource can assist individuals, organizations, and others in understanding how best to approach and educate policymakers around key child trauma issues.

The American Psychological Association PsycAdvocate Training Module Series
This training provides psychologists, psychology students/trainees and others with the skills to become effective public policy advocates at local, state, and federal levels.

NCTSN Policy Speaker Series

HHS Guidance Letter (2013) (PDF)
The US Department of Health and Human Services issued this document to its State Directors to encourage the integrated use of trauma-focused screening, functional assessments, and evidence-based practices (EBPs) in child-serving settings to improve child well-being.

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What's New

  • NCTSN Resources on Substance Use
    In light of the growing opioid addiction epidemic and the interest in this issue at local, state, and federal levels, this resource was developed to provide NCTSN members, partners, and the public direct access to selected NCTSN resources on substance use and trauma.  (See also the related NCTSN policy webinar held on June 24, 2016, and available on the NCTSN Learning Center).
  • The President’s FY 2017 Budget Proposal has been released.  For more information specific to the NCTSN, please refer to SAMHSA’s FY 2017 Budget Request (pages 69-71, and 349).

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