Crittenton Children's Center expands Head Start-Trauma Smart

Innovative program for children and families exposed to violence and traumatic events

Now, thanks to national and local recognition and support, more children and their caregivers will have a chance to benefit from proven trauma therapies provided by Crittenton Children's Center.

Head Start-Trauma Smart is an innovative model created by therapists at Crittenton to address the remarkably high incidence of complex trauma that negatively impacts the lives of 3- to 5-year-old children residing in areas replete with exposure to violent and traumatic events, many of the children experience real daily danger. Beginning in one Head Start program in Kansas City, Head Start-Trauma Smart now serves thousands of children and their families in 26 counties across Kansas City and Missouri.

Within the context of the children's natural environment – Head Start classrooms – Crittenton Head Start-Trauma Smart staff prepare children for social and academic success. Pairing practical, hands-on tools with effective coping strategies. Head Start-Trauma Smart includes parents in their children's school experience and improves the work environment for teachers and school personnel. The overall result is development of positive life skills and enduring change for children, families, and communities.

Crittenton CEO Janine Hron expressed excitement about the opportunity to further develop the Head Start-Trauma Smart model. “Every day, at Crittenton, we provide intensive care and treatment for children whose lives are on hold while they grapple with serious emotional disturbance. With Head Start-Trauma Smart we can reach children and families early, preventing negative impact on brain development. Children and their caregivers retain physical and emotional capacity, and learn the skills that put them on a road for lifelong success. Really, in the face of some long odds, there's never been a more hopeful time.”


Image courtesy of Tyrone Turner

Vital Assistance

  • Studies show that 26 percent of American children will experience at least one serious emotionally traumatic event before age 4.
  • Traumatic events can have a substantive, long-lasting impact on a young child’s brain and life. Early childhood trauma leads to a greater risk for depression, unintended pregnancy, substance abuse, and chronic health conditions later in life.
  • Thanks to a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant and local contributors, Crittenton Children's Center's Head Start-Trauma Smart model is helping thousands of preschool children enter kindergarten emotionally healthy and ready to learn.