Skip to main content Skip to navigation


As part of WSU Extension, the Child and Family Research Unit (CAFRU) works to create, promote, and sustain trauma-informed models of practice through community partnerships, educational systems, research, and community development. CAFRU’s principal goal is:

  • Addressing the public health challenge of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and resulting trauma.

How CAFRU is working towards this goal:

  • We focus on how systems help individuals of all ages build resilience and recover from adversity;
  • We focus on the development, implementation, and sustainability of trauma-informed practices within local, statewide, and national organizations.

Research & Evaluation

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, primary health care, and other natural systems,
  • Build understanding of the lasting effects of traumatic childhood experiences.

Community Development & Capacity Building

CAFRU is actively involved in helping communities develop their capacity to provide supportive services to their residents—especially those who are underserved and/or at risk. CAFRU works to:

  • Build strong, supportive community systems, and
  • Develop relationships with community leaders and stakeholders to improve existing programs, especially those addressing issues surrounding at-risk youth, families, and K–12 capacity-building.

Education & Training

Since 2008, CAFRU faculty and staff have delivered complex trauma training to more than 30,000 professionals including those in the K-12 education system, early learning, juvenile justice, social work, mental health, primary health care, and community members in Washington, Oregon, California, New York, Alaska, and Illinois. CAFRU is committed to equipping people in universal systems with awareness of complex trauma as a major health issue and with the skills to proactively respond. Enhancing professional development opportunities for community leaders around the topic of complex trauma is a key mission of CAFRU. Specifically, CAFRU works to:

  • Offer continuing education for community leaders including but not limited to health care providers and educators, and
  • Train community leaders on how to deal with childhood trauma and behavioral health challenges.
  • Develop curriculum to educate current and future workforce in fields such as health care, nursing, education, and public health.

Child and Family Research Unit logo.412 E. Spokane Falls Blvd., Spokane, WA 99202 | 509-358-7640 | Contact Us