The certificate prepares theoretically and practically equipped, caring, committed, and competent trauma-sensitive teachers and leaders.

School of Education & Health Sciences

Department of Education

Trauma Informed Educational Practices for Children and Adolescents Certificate


Graduate Admission


Why pursue a Trauma Informed Educational Practices for Children and Adolescents Certificate?

Childhood trauma is more common than people realize. In the U.S., an estimated 70% of all people have experienced trauma at some point in their lives. That translates into 224 million hurting children and adults in the United States alone. The amount of individuals in our country that have at least one Adverse Childhood Experience is a high majority, let alone those that may have more than one.

People who have experienced childhood trauma are prone to a higher risk of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cancer, lung disease, drug abuse, unplanned pregnancy and depression; and they experience significant stress related to family and work. Most of the children who need professional help during or after trauma experiences do not receive the trauma informed services they need.

The trauma informed educational practices for children and adolescents certificate will help you make an important impact in communities. The mission of the program is to prepare theoretically and practically equipped, caring, committed and competent trauma sensitive teachers and leaders or community and youth service providers. It builds knowledge as well as skills for working with PK-12 students who’ve been victims of childhood trauma and the negative effects it has on the brain and subsequent learning and behavior.

If you have a desire to advance systemic change for schools and organizations that serve children and families, our certificate program will propel your skill set beyond what you can receive in a local or online workshop. You will dive deep into childhood adversity theories and educational practices and become primed to serve your workplace and community in creating sustainable change as a trauma invested setting.

Growing Need for Trauma Informed Education and Health Care Professionals

Gaps among professional practices related to adverse childhood experiences and trauma informed practices are ample and based on a geographical analysis of our region, there are no other certificate specific offerings of this nature. To address this need, our certificate program will aid communities in advancing their efforts to have education and health care professionals trained with a trauma informed lens. We seek to train professionals on how to take initiatives that reflect on all elements of the formal and informal systems and create sustainable transformations.

Through the certificate program, you will be part of the solution to create positive change to support children and families through your work and community. You will have the skill set to create communities that embody safety, trust and services that are health promoting in nature. You will also experience the personal satisfaction of learning how to be a change maker in an area that affects two-thirds of the population in the U.S.

Training the Trainer

The curriculum follows a train the trainer model in which students will be fully equipped to provide high quality and effective education related to childhood trauma and informed educational practices. You will learn the methods of creating systemic change, developing strategies for small and large children groups and more.

It will also enhance your professional credentials and recognize you as an expert in the subject matter as you advocate and provide leadership to schools and organizations. As a specialized expert, you will be able to create systems and programs that educate your colleagues on the latest childhood trauma and trauma informed practices.

Trauma Informed Educational Practices for Children and Adolescents Curriculum

  • The certificate is a 9-credit hour program of study. 
  • Cohort model starting Fall 2020, applications due July 17, 2020.
  • The curriculum is offered for the 2020-2021 cohort 100% online with synchronous meetings on select Saturdays.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Differentiate the impacts of childhood trauma on the physical, social, emotional, and neurological development of youth and on the broader community
  • Design trauma sensitive practices for youth in a one-to-one, small, or large group setting
  • Produce a trauma sensitive continuing education seminar

Certificate Courses

The following courses must be completed in sequential order:

MEDU/MHTS 501: Trauma and Its Effects on Health and Learning - 3 credit hours  

Introduces the short and long-term effects from trauma on the health and learning of children and adults by exploring the foundation of adverse childhood experiences in diverse settings such as health care and medicine, social and human service, schools, and community-based organizations. Examination of the various trauma informed philosophies related to working in schools or youth-based organizations.

MEDU/MHTS 502: Building a Trauma Sensitive Environment with Strategy - 3 credit hours

Pre-Req MEDU/MHTS 501

Introduction to the resources available to strengthen the use of trauma sensitive strategies with children and adolescents. The evaluation of strategies for best practice in trauma sensitive settings, and the creation of a practice protocol to use with youth in small and large group settings.

MEDU/MHTS 503: Systemic Change through Research and Trauma Sensitive Practice - 3 credit hours

Pre-Req MEDU/MHTS 502

Critical analysis of factors that impact the adoption of a trauma sensitive environment. Emphasis on the facilitation of essential collaborations of the broader community, and methods of advocacy for systemic change. Construction of a workshop on childhood adversity and trauma informed practices for a target audience.

Trauma Informed Educational Practices Faculty

This certificate is born out of work that North Central faculty have completed over the last five years, both individually and collaboratively, locally and at the state and national levels. Through this work, the need for knowledge and skills related to childhood trauma and trauma-informed practices has been evident and North Central faculty involved have developed unique insights and expertise. Faculty have experience with research and implementation related to childhood trauma and informed educational practices, and they are available to provide mentorship to you throughout your program.

Tammy Wynard

Assistant Professor of Health Science; Chairperson, of the Department of Kinesiology
+1 630 637 5743
Bruce Spitzer

Professor of Education; Chairperson, Department of Education
+1 630 637 5738
Janis Fitzsimmons

Adjunct Professor of Education
+1 630 637 5747

Research and Presentations

Our expert faculty have been actively researching the growing need for trauma informed leaders. 

  • Professor Tammy Wynard and Dr. Bruce Spitzer have been conducting IRB-approved ongoing research since fall 2017 that centers around the gaps present of Adverse Childhood Trauma Experiences (ACEs) and Trauma Informed Practices (TIPs) in education and health related professional preparation programs. 
  • Faculty also presented at the Center for Success in High Needs Schools’ Summer Institute 2018 and the Department of Education’s Homecoming Forum on ACES and TIPs Fall 2017 and Fall 2018.
  • Faculty partnered and hosted a virtual workshop with the Karen Purvis Institute of Childhood Development at Texas Christian University to provide 50 local registered educators an eight-hour training on Trauma Informed Practices for the school and classroom in August 2018.
  • Professor Wynard presented an oral presentation at the 2019 Society for Public Health Education conference in Salt Lake City on her research, "Prioritizing Adverse Childhood Experiences and Trauma Informed Practice Education in Professional Preparation Programs: Identified Gaps and Essential Action Needed."

Application Instructions

  • Any student with a bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited college or university is eligible to apply.
  • Students begin the certificate program in the fall semester.
  • Application deadline for this program is July 17, 2020.

Steps to Apply

  1. Download and complete the non-degree application form (PDF).
  2. Submit Official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions.
    • Transcripts must show an earned bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university and a minimum grade point average of a 2.50 during the last (60) hours.
    • Transcripts can be sent electronically to or by mail to the School of Graduate and Professional Studies, 30 N. Brainard St., Naperville, IL 60540.
  3. Submit your resume to

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