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Displaced children and adults represent a unique subgroup within the U.S. population. While displacement can occur for a variety of reasons – war, natural disasters, extreme poverty, or persecution – individuals, children, and families within this group face complex challenges as they leave their homelands and work to establish a home in a new world. It can take decades to fully adjust (Clark, 2003). Common adjustment issues include adapting to a new culture, language, climate or environment, and learning new customs, while simultaneously maintaining family and cultural traditions.

For many who are displaced, trauma is central to their experience prior to, during, and post-migration (Perez-Foster, 2001; DeCandia, Murphy, & Coupe, 2013). Thus, it is critically important when serving people who have been displaced that providers understand trauma and its impact and design programs and services that reflect the principles of trauma-informed care.

This Guide can be used by community-based organizations that work with families, children, youth, unaccompanied minors, and individuals in various settings (e.g., outpatient settings, mental health, transitional housing programs, shelters, and schools). Leaders within these organizations who are looking to improve their effectiveness in engaging displaced populations can use this tool to begin the process of integrating a trauma-informed approach.