A primary focus of CAFRU is research and evaluation of programs that counter the impact of complex trauma on individuals, families, systems, and communities. CAFRU faculty and staff conduct research to:

  • Foster long-term success in early learning and K–12 education,
  • Evaluate mental and behavioral programs, and
  • Build understanding of the lasting effects of traumatic childhood experiences.


Research Projects and Outcomes

The Prevalence and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence Intrusion in the Workplace

This study done by Christopher Blodgett, WSU CAFRU Director, and Jane D. Lanigan, Academic Director and Associate Professor of the Department of Human Development WSU Vancouver, examines the prevalence and consequences of intimate partner violence (IPV) in the workplace. Surveys were completed by 1,390 employees in 32 different companies representing different organization types. The cumulative effects of IPV as well as active victimization contribute to negative workplace consequences. With significant numbers of employees experiencing IPV and reporting workplace consequences, the present research underscores the need for employers to develop a more precise means of understanding cost and response. The article was published in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma.

Click here to view the article through the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, & Trauma 

Collaborative Learning for Educational Achievement and Resilience (CLEAR) 2015-2016 Research Brief

In this report, we demonstrate that school staff in 12 active CLEAR schools in the 2015-2016 school year report high levels of program acceptability and evidence of positive shifts in individual staff practices, perception of student behavior, staff-student engagement, and school climate. These results demonstrate that CLEAR is associated with changes in staff associated with school characteristics predictive of improved academic outcomes. In addition, we demonstrate preliminary results that indicate meaningful and statistically significant gains in school-wide academic performance of CLEAR schools. To our knowledge, this report is the first look at how shifts in trauma-informed practice by staff impact school-wide conditions for academic success.

Click here for the full PDF text.

Every Child School Ready

In cooperation with the Washington State Office of Financial Management’s Education Research and Data Center, Washington State University’s Child and Family Research Unit is conducting an analysis of community, school, and individual student characteristics that influence school readiness in children entering Kindergarten and postsecondary educational success. The methodology parallels a previous analysis of community factors that influence academic success and youth wellbeing presented in the report No School Alone (see report, presentation, and press release below under No School Alone) and confirms the value of using poverty and community ACEs as key community risk indicators with updated data drawn from state data systems, economic data, and state youth and household surveys. Initial key findings on school readiness differences and how WAKids Kindergarten school readiness scores predict key indicators of academic success through Grade 2 were highlighted in an online presentation, Every Child School Ready.  Large and systematic differences across schools can be understood by recognizing the impact of locality, individual student differences (ethnicity, race, gender, ELL status), and community characteristics defined by school poverty and community ACEs. The study further demonstrates that understanding the level of adversity in communities is a meaningful predictor of communities’ collective success in supporting school readiness and academic progress even after accounting for the impact of individual student differences, locality, and poverty.
For more information please contact Myah Houghten (509-358-7644 or or Dr. Chris Blodgett (

Funding statement and disclaimer: This study project was funded by a U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences 2015 Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems grant obtained and lead by the state of Washington Office of Financial Management’s Education Research and Data Center and completed under contract by CAFRU. One hundred percent of the $226,409.50 total cost of this project was financed with Federal money, and no non-governmental sources funded this project.

Click here for the Every Child School Ready PowerPoint presentation.

CLEAR Trauma-Informed Schools White Paper: A Selected Review of Trauma-Informed School Practice and Alignment with Educational Practice

‘Trauma-informed schools’ is an umbrella term for several different approaches which share some core proposals for change but otherwise can vary widely. The foundational concepts of good trauma response- that compassion has the power to heal, that placing a priority on the power of relationships is essential for change, and that assuring safety should be a right of childhood- all create hope for better outcomes and point to the kinds of immediate actions that make change a realistic possibility for many. This paper is intended to introduce some key bodies of research that inform the CLEAR model, could be helpful to others, and are not routinely included in many discussions of trauma-informed practice in schools.

Click here for the full PDF text.

No School Alone

Community factors significantly contribute to the individual, peer and family factors that set the conditions for school success. The nature of the community a school serves directly influences the nature of what makes each school a community in its own right. This does not minimize the importance of high-quality educators, effective curriculum and learning materials, strong leaders and engaged parents for school success. Rather, the evidence indicates that these characteristics of schools as healthy communities are directly affected by the conditions in the surrounding community. Passed in the 2014 legislative session, Substitute House Bill 2739 (Chapter 196, Laws of 2014) directs this analysis which examines the effects of community factors such as economic well-being, safety and family challenges on academic and youth success.

Click here for the full PDF text.

Click here for a presentation on the report.

Click here for a WSU press release on the report.

ACEs in Head Start Children and Impact on Development

In an ongoing screening for ACEs in young children and their parents, this report provides initial findings of the level of risk in a Head Start population and the predictive power of children’s ACEs and school readiness measures.

Click here for the full PDF text.

Adopting ACEs Screening and Assessment in Child Serving Systems

Drawing information from four research studies addressing adversity and trauma, CAFRU researchers share early lessons and findings documenting trauma effects in K-12 education, early learning, and home visiting populations.

Click here for the full PDF text.

Review of Community Efforts to Mitigate and Prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences and Trauma

In support of planning activities for mitigation efforts addressing adverse childhood experiences in Washington State, CAFRU prepared a review of common community programs aligned with public health practices.

Click here for the full PDF text.

Adverse Childhood Experience and Developmental Risk in Elementary Schoolchildren

Elementary school staff reported on students enrolled in public elementary schools (Grades K-6) in Spokane WA to answer the following questions: How common are significant adverse events in elementary schoolchildren? Do adverse events correlate with academic problems and health status in children?

Click here for the full PDF text.



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