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The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) celebrated its first anniversary in November at the ISTSS 18th Annual Meeting in Baltimore. At the annual meeting, the NCTSN sponsored two premeeting institutes, and Network members made multiple presentations. The ISTSS annual meeting provides a unique opportunity for interacting with an international community of professionals dedicated to improving the lives of traumatized people, and NCTSN members are pleased to be a part of this.

The NCTSN’s mission is to raise the standard of care and improve access to services for traumatized children, their families and communities throughout the United States. NCTSN’s goals are to define the problem of child traumatic stress; develop evidence-based, developmentally sound assessments, interventions and treatments; and work to create and coordinate a national network of organizations and institutions that provide services to traumatized children, their families and communities throughout the United States.

The vision of the NCTSN is to:

  • Raise public awareness of the scope and serious impact of child traumatic stress on the safety and healthy development of our nation’s children and families.
  • Improve the standard of care by integrating developmental and cultural knowledge to advance a broad range of effective services and interventions that will preserve and restore the future of our nation’s traumatized children.
  • Work with established systems of care, including physical health, mental health, education, law enforcement, child welfare and juvenile justice systems, to ensure that there is a comprehensive continuum of care available and accessible to all traumatized children and their families.
  • Be a community dedicated to collaboration within and beyond the Network to ensure that widely shared knowledge and skills create a national resource to address the problem of child traumatic stress.

The NCTSN is sponsored by the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), an arm of the United States Public Health Service. The NCTSN unites the efforts of 36 organizations serving traumatized children and provides a national framework to highlight their experience, expertise and success. These links strengthen the efforts of all Network members and improve the quality and availability of services for traumatized children.

  • Ten Intervention Development and Evaluation programs are primarily responsible for development, delivery and evaluation of improved treatment approaches and service delivery models within the NCTSN.
  • Twenty-six Community Treatment and Service programs primarily engage in implementing, in the community or in specialty child service settings, model treatment interventions and community services for children and their families who have experienced trauma.
  • As part of the NCTSN, a National Center provides the vision, national leadership and overall organizing and coordinating expertise to move the NCTSN toward its goals.
    The National Center is co-administered by the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, California, and Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina. Co-directors, Robert Pynoos and John Fairbank, are ISTSS past presidents.

The National Center also provides organizational support to the new Terrorism and Disaster Branch (TDB) co-located at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and Mt. Sinai Medical Center. Designed to strengthen the nation’s preparedness and response to terrorism and disaster, the TDB will strive to build a national resource to enhance the capacity to provide mental health care for traumatized and bereaved children and families after mass casualty events. The National Center also contains the National Resource Center and www.nctsnet.org, a central source of information for the Network and the public on issues related to improving and expanding services for childhood trauma.

In year two, the NCTSN will strive to increase collaborative activities and establish a set of core principles for training in the screening, assessment and treatment of child traumatic stress. The NCTSN also will continue the process of getting collaborative evidence-based projects under way, take steps to increase quality of care in service settings, and develop an agenda for improving children’s access to treatment. NCTSN members look forward to participating in the 2003 ISTSS annual meeting in Chicago.

For more information about the NCTSN, contact Christine Siegfried at UCLA, 310/235-2633 ext. 223, or Judy Holland at Duke, 919/687-4686 ext. 302.