To promote compassionate understanding and support for children and families who have experienced trauma. 


All communities and child serving systems will join with children and their families to promote healing and end the cycle of trauma.

Our Story

The Children’s Trauma Assessment Center, or CTAC, is part of the Unified Clinics at Western Michigan University. CTAC opened its clinic doors in February 2000 and was founded by Dr. James Henry (center director and social work professor), Connie Black-Pond (clinical director), Dr. Ben Atchison (occupational therapy professor), Dr. Mark Sloane, (behavioral pediatrician) and Dr. Yvette Hyter (speech and language professor).

Since then, CTAC has provided comprehensive neurodevelopmental trauma assessments for more than 3,300 children who have experienced trauma or adverse childhood experiences. CTAC serves children ages three months to 17 years old. Over 90% of the children who have received assessment services are in or have been in foster care. Their traumatic exposure may include:

  • neglect
  • physical abuse
  • psychological abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • prenatal exposure to alcohol and/or drugs
  • exposure to domestic violence or community violence
  • removal from biological family and/or multiple moves within the foster care system

More about trauma

Assessments are conducted for children in order to gain a better understanding on how the child’s traumatic exposures have impacted development, behavioral functioning and social emotional health. An understanding of how trauma affects a child can help caregivers and other professionals recognize the underlying cause of challenging behaviors and how to respond in supportive ways. As a result, children are more likely to get the help they need.

CTAC is one of the few transdisciplinary clinical teams in Michigan and is made up of professionals from social work, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology and medicine. CTAC is also one of the Nation's Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Diagnostic and Prevention Network (FAS-DPN) sites, and is affiliated with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN).

CTAC’s work also includes supporting the education and implementation of trauma-informed systems to individuals and communities around the state to help better serve children and their families.

CTAC in the news