top of page
Foster Accountable, Trauma-Responsive Local, State, and Federal Governments

To hold our local, state, and federal governments accountable for aligning their work with the principles of a trauma-informed approach calls for a full-scale transformation of our public institutions and the foundational principles guiding them. 


Governments have the unique capacity to either perpetuate cycles of trauma and hardship through their policies and practices, or to break these cycles by committing to creating environments of healing and resilience. The adoption of trauma-informed public policy is therefore a crucial step towards ensuring that every level of government operates and legislates with an awareness of and sensitivity to trauma and its pervasive impact on individuals and communities.


The guiding philosophy behind trauma-responsive government is the understanding that policies cannot be one-size-fits-all. Instead, they must be adaptable, equitable, and sensitive to the varied experiences of those they serve. This entails a paradigm shift where governments listen to and incorporate the voices of those who have been historically marginalized or affected by trauma, ensuring that these individuals are not only heard but are active participants in the policy-making process.

It is about creating a government that is not only responsive but also restorative, recognizing past injustices and actively working towards reconciliation, healing, and continually integrating learnings to better serve and support all people.


Beyond training, trauma-responsive government requires a commitment to systemic change, which includes the evaluation and reformation of existing policies and procedures through a trauma-informed lens. It calls for the creation of new frameworks that prioritize psychological safety, community collaboration, and the restoration of dignity to those who have been disempowered and disenfranchised by our systems and structures. It is vital that this transformation is also reflected in the allocation of resources, ensuring that funding is directed towards initiatives that uphold trauma-informed principles, promote healing, and support community resilience.


Embedding the tenets of a trauma-informed approach into the heart of public service is a critical aspect of creating, implementing, and sustaining practices multi-level practices that are responsive to the needs of all. Advocates and activists are called upon to encourage governments at all levels to align with the intent, action, and accountability measures needed to move beyond seeing individuals as simply the sum of their past experiences and instead recognize the inherent resilience and capacity for healing within each person and community. Enshrining this acknowledgment in law ensures that human experiences are honored, and that future generations continue to benefit from a society that prioritizes compassion and care in addressing emerging and evolving needs.


This dimension of the vision calls for us to:

  • Implement mandatory foundational training and ongoing education requirements for all government employees at all levels on trauma and the principles of a trauma-informed approach

    • Implement mechanisms for public transparency and accountability in government operations related to trauma-informed practices

    • Provide intensive assistance to advance responsiveness to trauma among agencies that service trauma-impacted individuals, families, groups, communities, and populations (e.g., Bureau of Prisons, Veterans Administration, Customs and Border Protection, Employment Training Administration, Bureau of Indian Affairs, etc.)

  • Enforce a policy-making mandate that requires all proposed policies to be evaluated through a trauma-informed, equity-focused lens

  • Shift funding priorities towards initiatives that align with trauma-informed principles, such as trauma-specific mental health services, restorative justice programs, and community-based healing programs

  • Conduct a comprehensive review of existing government policies and procedures through a trauma-informed lens, identifying and addressing policies that may inadvertently contribute to stress, adversity, trauma, or re-traumatization

  • Streamline administrative processes to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and improve accessibility for individuals seeking services

  • Update emergency response protocols to include trauma-informed approaches during natural disasters, public health emergencies, and crises

    • Ensure that disaster relief efforts are trauma-informed, providing psychological support alongside physical aid

  • Implement trauma-informed practices in public transportation and build infrastructure to support increased use, focusing on safety and accessibility for all passengers, including those with trauma histories

  • Develop clear and consistent guidelines for interactions between all government officials and members of the public, ensuring fairness, respect, cultural sensitivity, and trauma-informed communication

  • Create opportunities for public oversight, input, and feedback on trauma-informed policy development and implementation, ensuring that the needs and perspectives of diverse communities are reflected in government decisions

  • Conduct regular assessments of public program effectiveness and allocate resources based on evidence-based practices and community needs

  • Develop innovative financing mechanisms, such as public-private partnerships and social impact bonds, to support the implementation of trauma-informed programs

  • Reform laws and revise operations of governmental entities and agencies that contribute to various forms of state-sanctioned family separation, including training on the trauma of such experiences 

  • Integrate trauma-informed principles into public programs and initiatives, setting standards for organizations receiving public funding to adopt and implement trauma-informed practices

  • Devise legislation that protects individuals from discrimination based on their experiences with trauma

  • Advance resolutions and/or other formal acknowledgments among policymakers declaring trauma to be an epidemic, public health concern, and/or otherwise a critical issue to address through structural, institutional, and systemic trauma-informed change (e.g., establishing a Trauma-Informed Care Awareness Day annually, having a ceremony where trauma survivors can share resilient narratives and meaning-making experiences to uplift the power of a trauma-informed approach in promoting healing, etc.)

  • Continue to fund the Interagency Task Force on Trauma-Informed Care to develop recommendations and standards for trauma-informed recognition, referral, treatment, mitigation, and other supports across the lifespan

  • Foster a culture of compassion and support within government agencies by promoting open communication, peer support networks, and employee wellness programs

    • Educate the full public workforce on the impacts of doing work that interfaces with trauma, such as moral injury, secondary traumatic stress, burnout, compassion satisfaction, moral courage, vicarious resilience, and vicarious post-traumatic growth

    • Encourage leadership development programs that equip government officials with the skills and knowledge needed to create trauma-informed workplaces and implement trauma-responsive internal policies

  • Develop standardized metrics and evaluation tools to track the progress of trauma-informed interventions and policies

  • Establish clear reporting requirements for government agencies to track and report progress on trauma-informed initiatives

    • Use data to inform policy decisions, identify best practices, and ensure that resources are allocated effectively to address the needs of trauma-impacted communities

  • Conduct nationwide campaigns to educate the public about trauma, its effects, and the importance of resilience-building

bottom of page