Church Ministry Essentials

Module 8:

Cultivating a Trauma-informed Children’s Ministry

There’s kids in your church that have experienced trauma. In this module you will explore the impacts of trauma, practical tools for staff and volunteers working with children in your ministry who have experienced trauma and a plan of action to create safe, welcoming and fun environments for all.

In this module, we will explore the following topics:

What is trauma? 

What impacts does trauma have on children and students? 

How trauma informs behavior, connection and relationships 

Practical strategies to serve children who have experienced trauma 

A plan of action to equip leaders and volunteers 

Module Resources

Below is a curated collection of some of the best resources on trauma informed church and ministry cultures. These resources are intended to serve you, not overwhelm you. Do not feel the pressure to work through all of them, but use them in a way that best helps you grow. For some modules it might mean plowing through them all, for others it might mean focusing on just a few!



Cultivating a Trauma-Informed Culture in Your Children's and Student Ministries

A discussion with Kim Botto, a national leading expert on the subject of trauma, church and children's/student environments.

Watch as Jason and Kim discuss her role in leading teams of staff and volunteers to create safe, fun and engaging environments in her church.


Meeting Sensory Needs

Some kids can get over- or under-whelmed in a highly stimulating environment. Here’s how to recognize and respond to possible sensory challenges.

How to Make Kids Feel Safe

“Feeling safe” goes beyond policies and procedures. Watch this video to learn how YOU can help kids to feel safe in church.

Guiding Behavior

Anytime we have kids in our care, we can expect unsafe behavior to come up every once in a while. So how do we guide kids’ behavior in positive ways?

Our Ministry Can Be a Lifeline for Traumatized Children

Kim Botto shares about the challenges faced by Traumatized Kids.


What is Trauma?

The Empowered Parent Podcast

In this episode Ryan and Kayla North breakdown what trauma really is. From in utero trauma to various forms of abuse they break down the effects it can have and what you can do as a parent to help your kids through it.

Serving Families Well Through Trauma

The Family Ministry Podcast

In this episode, I talk with Director of Kids’ Club and Student Ministry, Kim Botto, about what her church has done to serve kids and families that are hurting, have experienced trauma, have difficult backgrounds, or are facing other challenges. She shares about the space and time she and her team create to pray and listen for God’s direction in their ministry, and how they went about pursuing this specific call–from how they talk to parents, to the environments they create, to how they train volunteers.

Helping Childrens Ministries Become Trauma-Informed

The Empowered Parent Podcast

For decades, the Palmer Home for Children had been known in Mississippi for its role as a traditional, residential home, but in recent years, the leadership of Palmer Home began to discuss the best way to provide for children and started to re-think their organization’s original model. As Drake Bassett and his team started to expand their approach to include a focus on family strengthening and foster care, it made a way for families like Amy’s to become invested and involved in the lives of the children that Palmer Home cares for. Palmer Home’s story demonstrates the importance of making big changes, despite what has always been done, to act in the best interest of the child.

Articles + PDFs

Four Focus Areas for Creating a Trauma Informed Childrens Ministry

An unfortunate reality of modern life is that children and families experience trauma and traumatic events at high rates and with lasting impact. Consider this: How many families do you know who’ve been touched by the heartbreaking reality of divorce? What about families who deal with domestic violence? How many children face ongoing bullying at school? How many have been the victim of a crime? of abuse? Now consider the trauma induced or amplified by a global pandemic. Sadly, traumatic experience is all-too-common for today’s families.

The Undeniable Need for Trauma-Informed Kids Ministries

Melissa is a regular every week. Sunday School every Sunday morning and, more often than not, Middle School youth group on Wednesday nights. Her Grandma Ruth, who Melissa lives with, is careful to drop her off at check-in and return promptly when things wrap up.

Where to Start with Trauma-Informed Childrens Ministry

I’m often asked by children’s ministry leaders, “When is the right time to train volunteer teams on how to respond to kids who have experienced trauma?” My answer is always the same – NOW.

Three Practical Trauma Informed Responses

If you’ve worked with kids for any time, you’ve had “that” kid. You know who I’m talking about. The kid who brings the energy level up as soon as they walk in the room. The child who has a difficult time following instructions. The one who “ruins” our plans for the day.

Everyone Can Do Something

Chapter 6, "Building a Discipleship Pipeline"

Discipleship is not an event, it’s a process. It’s the long, sometimes slow and sometimes tumultuous journey of movement — from where we are to where we need or want or hope to be. Discipleship toward a goal or vision doesn’t just happen — it requires intentionality, purpose and planning. This is especially true in how we work to cultivate a culture of felt safety and trauma competence in our childrens and student ministry environments.


Action Guides and Exercises


Cultivating a Trauma-Informed Children's Ministry

Exploring practical training, procedures and nexts step you can take in your ministry.


Webinar: Rethinking Children’s Ministry: Creating an Environment of Felt Safety

This webinar will equip you with the information and tools needed to approach your Children’s Ministry staff and help them understand what it means to provide felt safety for children, exploring the impact that traumatic childhood experiences can have on the diverse population of children in your ministry. We encourage you to watch it, take notes, contextualize to your own church and ministry culture and identify next steps you can take.

Presented By: Ryan & Kayla North, Tapestry at Irving Bible Church

Resource Spotlight

In this pioneering, practical book, Daniel J. Siegel, neuropsychiatrist and author of the bestselling Mindsight, and parenting expert Tina Payne Bryson offer a revolutionary approach to child rearing with twelve key strategies that foster healthy brain development, leading to calmer, happier children.

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind

The authors explain—and make accessible—the new science of how a child’s brain is wired and how it matures. The “upstairs brain,” which makes decisions and balances emotions, is under construction until the mid-twenties. And especially in young children, the right brain and its emotions tend to rule over the logic of the left brain. No wonder kids throw tantrums, fight, or sulk in silence. By applying these discoveries to everyday parenting, you can turn any outburst, argument, or fear into a chance to integrate your child’s brain and foster vital growth.

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