National Child Traumatic Stress Network Essay

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The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) is a group of 70 treatment and research centers across the United States providing or developing services for traumatized children and their families. All 70 centers receive or have received grant funding from the Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NCTSN was created through the Donald J. Cohen National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCTSI), passed by Congress in 2001, to recognize the devastating impact of trauma on children, youth, and their families. The mission of the initiative is “to raise the standard of care, and increase access to services for traumatized children, families and communities throughout the United States.” The initiative recognizes the pioneering work of Donald J. Cohen, a national leader in the field of child traumatic stress, Sterling Professor of Child Psychiatry, Psychology and Pediatrics at Yale University, and Director of the Yale Child Study Center until his death in 2001 at the age of 61.

The NCTSN aims to provide leadership and knowledge in the area of childhood traumatic stress through public information and awareness efforts, nationwide training, and the development, adaptation, and dissemination of evidence-based interventions for childhood traumatic stress. The NCTSN integrates cultural and developmental knowledge in developing and disseminating interventions toward the development of a comprehensive continuum of care for all traumatized children and their families. The NCTSI emphasizes collaboration between network centers, across multiple child-serving systems, and between providers and consumers of trauma-focused mental health services.

Centers in the NCTSN provide services for children traumatized by natural disasters, terrorism, community and intimate partner violence, homelessness, and related severe stressors. Across the United States, 45 centers are currently funded by the NCTSI, as Category 1, 2, or 3 grantees. The National Center for Childhood Traumatic Stress (NCCTS), the sole Category 1 grantee, is a collaboration of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Duke University. The NCCTS works closely with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to provide administrative leadership and coordination activities to the network, to deliver technical assistance to NCTSN grantees, to develop and provide national training and education on childhood traumatic stress, and to oversee resource development and dissemination efforts.

Treatment and Services Adaptation Centers (nine Category 2 grantees) provide national expertise in childhood traumatic stress by developing and evaluating interventions for specific types of traumatic stress across different populations and service systems. These centers provide support to 35 Community Treatment and Services Centers in adapting, implementing, and disseminating promising and model practices across a broad range of communities and service systems. Community Treatment and Services Centers provide direct services in community settings and child serving systems to a broad range of children affected by traumatic events. Centers collaborate within and across network categories to advance knowledge of trauma-informed service provision and clinical, policy, training, and fiscal issues in relation to childhood traumatic stress.


  1. Gray, A., & Szekely, A. (2006, November). Thinking broadly: Financing strategies for child traumatic stress initiatives. Los Angeles: National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Retrieved from
  2. Martin, A. (2002). Donald J. Cohen, M.D. 1940–2001. American Journal of Psychiatry, 159, 1829. Retrieved from
  3. United States Department of Health and Human Services. (2001). HHS awards $10 million for Child Traumatic Stress Initiative [Press release]. Retrieved from http://
  4. National Child Traumatic Stress Network:

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