Promoting Caregiver Competency to Support Children with Experiences of Adversity Through Occupational Therapy Education

Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2021

Document Type

Oral Presentation/Poster

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Health Science

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Shana Cerny, OTD, OTR/L, BCP


foster care, adverse childhood experiences, occupational therapy, multi-tiered approach, advocacy


An increasing number of children enter the foster care system due to adverse experiences such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, or emotional neglect. Current efforts to reduce the impact of these traumatic experiences are complicated by individual, family, community, and system factors. Such factors may include complex trauma histories, unresolved trauma and associated manifestations, unstable foster care or kinship placements, limited or poor access to appropriate health services, and fragmented care approaches. Occupational therapy (OT) practitioners are healthcare professionals who can be instrumental in addressing these complex and multifactorial issues. Specifically, occupational therapists can appropriately address the wide range of physical, emotional, and mental health needs that children within the foster care system often encounter. The purpose of this capstone experience was to identify multi-tiered interventions that could reduce the impact of adverse childhood experiences, promote trauma-informed, occupational therapy education among caregivers, and advocate for the continued expansion of the occupational therapy profession within the child welfare system.