Trauma-Informed Organizational Toolkit for Homeless Services

The National Center on Family Homelessness at American Institutes for Research has developed a Trauma-Informed Organizational Curriculum that includes a suite of toolkits for use in a variety of social service settings. The central component of each toolkit is a Trauma-Informed Organizational Self-Assessment that includes concrete practices or benchmarks of trauma-informed care that serve as guidelines for adopting a trauma-informed approach. Each Trauma-Informed Organizational Self-Assessment includes universal trauma-informed practices as well as specific practices for unique populations (homeless families, women veterans, displaced families). The toolkit presented here is designed specifically for homeless families.

This curriculum is designed to be used by programs to: 1) evaluate programming based on how well they incorporate Self-Assessment practices; 2) identify areas for organizational growth; and 3) make practical changes using the Self-Assessment as a guide (Guarino et. al, 2009). In addition to background information on trauma-informed care and a Trauma-Informed Organizational Self-Assessment, each toolkit includes a How-To Manual for beginning the change process at your agency.


Number of Questions
Creator(s) of Tool
The National Center on Family Homelessness at American Institutes for Research
Contact: Kathleen Guarino, Director of Training [email protected]

Full citation for this toolkit:

Guarino, K., Soares, P., Konnath, K., Clervil, R., and Bassuk, E. (2009). Trauma-Informed Organizational Toolkit. Rockville, MD: Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Daniels Fund, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Scoring / Benchmarking
Each Trauma-Informed Organizational Self-Assessment contains trauma-informed "items" or practices within the following domains of programming: Supporting Staff Development, Creating a Safe and Supportive Environment, Assessing and Planning Services, Involving Consumers, Adapting Policies, and Working with Children (this final domain is found in 2 of the 3 Self-Assessments). Service providers are asked to evaluate the extent to which they agree that their agency incorporates each practice using the following scale: strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree, do not know, not applicable to my program. To identify areas for change, the program looks for items where staff responses are mainly “strongly disagree” and “disagree”, as these are practices that most staff feel the program does not incorporate. The program may also look at items where many people responded “do not know”, as these may be practices that either are not done or there is a lack of staff understanding about what is done that requires clarification. Finally, it is helpful to examine items where the range of responses are extremely varied (i.e. staff responses to the same item range from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”). This lack of consistency among staff responses may be due to a lack of understanding about the item itself, a difference of perspective based on a person’s role in the program, or a misunderstanding on the part of some staff members about what is actually done on a daily basis (Guarino et al., 2009).
Background / Quality
In 2009, The National Center on Family Homelessness published its original Trauma-Informed Organizational Toolkit for Homeless Services, discussed here, which included the original Trauma-Informed Organizational Self-Assessment.

The Self-Assessment was developed over the course of several years. The development of self-assessment items and domains was based on feedback from trauma and research experts, consumers, and community providers. Self-assessment items were field tested and the tool was piloted locally, in Boston, MA, and nationally, in emergency shelter and transitional housing programs across the United States. The original Self-Assessment has since been adapted for agencies serving women, veterans, and displaced families. Adaptations have also included pilot testing of new items. The adapted versions are also available on the PerformWell website.
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