Making Assessment Trauma Informed – Cwm Taf Pathfinder (July 2021)


Attached below are a variety of tools to support practitioners to identify if children have experienced trauma. 


Attached below are a variety of tools developed by Cwm Taf youth offending service, intended to help practitioners to identify if children have experienced trauma by looking at some of the factors that might be an indicator.

Cwm Taf youth offending service have produced a guide around trauma and ACE informed approach, which should be read together with the below tools.

The completion of a trauma-informed assessment is used to identify vulnerable children and make intervention and effective harm reduction decisions. This can be undertaken by the YOT case manager as part of the initial assessment process for all children referred to the YOT. The prompts included in this tool are informed by research and common themes from the Youth Justice Board- (YJB) trial in South Wales of Enhanced Case Management 2017 -2020.

This tool is intended to be used in addition to the standard Asset Plus Quality Assurance tools for cases where there is evidence of trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) (TrACE). It is suggested it is used alongside the TrACE informed AssetPlus prompt sheet which assists in gathering information about trauma. The tool can be used to assist YOT practitioners to reflect on whether they have gathered all the pertinent information and where they can record the information gathered. It can also be used as a thematic (TrACE informed) practice development exercise. The prompts are suggestions, reflections and considerations for the author of the assessment rather than set expectations. Recording will be individual to the child and his/or her unique circumstances and therefore the tool cannot be used as a checklist.

The Trauma Recovery Model is used in assessment to identify where a child who has experienced trauma sits within this framework based on how they are presenting (the triangle). This then provides guidance on what their underlying needs might be and what the focus of the intervention should be and how it is tailored to the child. Children can move between different stages of the TRM depending on what is happening in their lives.

A quick reference guide about how to shift the assessment perspective to think about children through a trauma-informed lens.

This is used as part of the assessment process (with or without case formulation/multi-agency timelining) to assess the child- cognitive, social and emotional age, which can be different from their chronological age. This may be evident through lack of consequential thinking, avoidance, challenging behaviour, problems in controlling temper, lack of empathy, an unwillingness to provide explanations, etc. It is not a formal evidence-based assessment but a useful tool to help to determine the age range to tailor interventions.

The drawing up of a timeline is a key role in multi-agency timelining meetings. The timeline records in graphic form the information shared and is used by the attendees as a basis for discussion. This approach has been used in Enhanced Case Management which a psychologist is present and without psychology to assist the YOT case manager to gather information about the child- history and background and for agencies involved with the child and their family to gain a common understanding of their needs.

Multi-agency timelining meetings have been used by Cwm Taf YOS to bring all professionals with involvement with the child together to share information. This can help to identify if the child has experienced trauma in their early years and upbringing and to develop plans and ways of working with them that are compatible with their needs. As part of this approach professionals complete a developmental mapping exercise to collectively assess the child- physical, cognitive, emotional and social development and assess where they are on the Trauma Recovery Model.

This is an example of a letter which Cwm Taf YOS uses to invite external agencies to a multi-agency timelining meeting. 

Note: For further information around working in a trauma-informed way with children, Cwm taf YOS have also developed the following tools:

Working with the Trauma Recovery Model – Cwm Taf Pathfinder (August 2021)
Pathway and Planning Assessment – Cwm Taf Pathfinder (August 2021)


Youth justice service:Cwm Taf Pathfinder
Name: Claire Williams