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Toxic stress is becoming a hot topic in science and brain development. It’s also an emerging public health concern. Experts say the way to avoid toxic stress is through strong relationships that support children and their families. This means that children in foster care are especially vulnerable to toxic stress.

In Wisconsin there’s a movement towards something called “trauma informed care.” This movement is being led by a group called Fostering Futures, which was started by Wisconsin First Lady Tonette Walker with Dr. Angela Carron of Fostering Hope and Laurene Lambach of SET Ministries, Inc.

They work with various state offices, such as the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Children’s Mental Health, as well as groups like Saint A, an agency that handles half of Milwaukee’s foster care cases. Saint A is also a national leader in trauma informed care, offering their expertise to groups around the country.

Our Senior Producer Daisy Rosario went to Wisconsin to speak to the First Lady and others to learn how strengthening relationships between various systems is happening from the top down and the bottom up. And about why this is especially important for families in the foster care system.

Daisy Rosario’s reporting on toxic stress was undertaken as a National Health Journalism Fellow at the Center for Health Journalism at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism.

Featured image: Milwaukee at night (ThreeIfByBike/Wikimedia Commons)