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Children’s Curriculum

The Healing Brain: Supporting Children from Trauma to Resilience

The ACWS Children’s Curriculum, The Healing Brain: Supporting Children from Trauma to Resilience, provides shelter workers with up-to-date information and understanding of early brain development. The curriculum is divided into six modules that explore topics such as the human brain and brain development, adverse childhood experiences, the impacts of toxic stress, and resilience.

The development of training and content specific to children’s experiences of domestic violence and toxic stress has been at the core of the curriculum and other training ACWS has developed. These training programs provide information about the immediate and long-term effects of exposure to domestic violence for children and how it affects both their quality and quantity of life. Rooting the training in neuro science and research is helpful in describing the complex and long-lasting issues that domestic violence can cause.

Why this training?

Across Alberta last year, 2,389 children were admitted to ACWS member shelters[1]. For children, exposure to domestic violence can be as harmful as directly experiencing acts of violence. Domestic violence has a range of negative physical, psychological, social, and academic impacts on children.

Children exposed to domestic violence experience an increased risk of ischemic heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, skeletal fractures, liver disease, stomach aches, insomnia, nightmares, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, fear, insecurity, shame, aggression, and declining academic performance.[2]

Supports for mothers and children exposed to domestic violence are crucial. Children who have access to nurturing caregiver relationships are less likely to be negatively impacted by exposure to domestic violence, and are more likely to fully heal after being exposed to domestic violence.[2]


[1] Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters, Data Release 2021

[2] Mueller and Tronick, “The Long Shadow of Violence”; Jack P. Shonkoff and Philip A. Fisher, “Rethinking Evidence-Based Practice and Two-Generation Programs to Create the Future of Early Childhood Policy,” Developmental Psychopathology 25, no. 4 (2013): 1635-53.

Take Children's Curriculum Training

The ACWS offers training on the Children's Curriculum for members. Contact the ACWS to learn more.

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