Who We Are

Home > Who We Are
What We've Learned About

Childhood Trauma

Childhood Trauma

At the Attachment & Trauma Network, it is our mission to promote healing of children impacted by trauma through supporting their families, schools, and communities.

We Believe

  • We believe that children impacted by trauma and those with attachment disorders can heal.
  • We believe that parents, who are supported and taught therapeutic parenting, are the best healing agents of their traumatized child.
  • We believe that children impacted by trauma need trauma-informed, attachment-focused therapies.
  • We believe that all children learn best in trauma-sensitive schools where strategies are in place to help the children and adults feel safe, stay regulated, get connected, and not be re-traumatized or triggered.  We believe trauma-informing schools empowers trauma-responsive educators.
  • We believe that providing resources to the families from the start (once a traumatized child has been identified) is the best way to minimize crises and reduce disruptions and potential “re-homing”.
  • We believe that ongoing parent-to-parent support is critical in arming the families with strategies, tools, and strength to persevere daily.
  • We believe that “touching trauma at its heart” is more than a tagline, it’s a healing mission.

Where It Began

What Therapists Want Parents to KnowIn 1995, three mothers, who were parenting children diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder were connected by their children’s therapist. The goal was to support each other, and as they realized how similar their journeys were and that they truly were “Not Alone,” ATN was born.

Initially organized as the KC Attachment Network, these mothers found that families from all over the United States were looking for ways to connect with others raising children struggling with early trauma and attachment disorders. The founding members began providing a “warm line” to adoptive parents in the area. They offered assistance in finding resources and support as parents navigated the challenges of finding residential treatment, considering adoption disruptions, marital strain, searching for respite, and frightening encounters with child protective services due to false allegations of abuse. This small, dedicated group of volunteers spent countless hours supporting others and realizing how many thousands of families needed the support. ATN’s first 2-day educational workshop was held in October 1995, with both parents and professionals attending.

Where We’ve Been

In 1999 the KC Attachment Network, led by Executive Director Nancy Spoolstra, had incorporated as a non-profit and then merged with the Attachment Disorder Parent’s Network, developed by Gail Trenberth of Colorado, changing its name to the Attachment Disorder Network, Inc. (ADN).

In early 2004, ADN developed a long-term strategic plan that emphasized a three-prong mission of Support, Education and Advocacy and organized the all-volunteer board and staff into work groups based on these mission areas.  From 2006-2008, ADN hosted the Parenting Traumatized Children Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2007, ADN changed its name to the Attachment & Trauma Network, Inc. (ATN) to reflect the growing understanding through neuroscience that early childhood trauma (attachment trauma) was at the root of the struggle that traumatized children have with attachment disorders.

Focusing on providing Support, Education and Advocacy nationwide (and in some cases internationally), ATN’s services and programs rely heavily on the internet and virtual communication to reach the most families possible.  Upon Nancy Spoolstra’s retirement in 2009, Julie Beem, a long-time ATN volunteer, parent of a traumatized child and successful business owner took over the Executive Director role. In 2010, ATN’s volunteers led the organization to receive a Pepsi Refresh grant that enabled the organization to design and implement the ATN Learning Center to provide webinars and other online training materials to help parents learn Therapeutic Parenting as well as educational resources for families and professionals on attachment & trauma in general.  In 2012, ATN’s Advocacy efforts began to formally organize.

In June 2014, ATN hosted the first National Attachment Trauma Awareness (NATA) Day. In 2018, the first issue of the Therapeutic Parenting Journal was published. In February 2018, ATN held the first international Conference for Creating Trauma-Sensitive Schools. The result of years of online summits and dedicated team of educators, the Conference brought educators from around the world to Washington D.C.  The 2nd Annual CTSS Conference held in DC more than doubled in attendance and included 84 workshops.  Due to the success and incredible need for trauma-informed training in education, ATN is hosting its third conference in February 2020.

Where We’re Going

Creating trauma sensitive schoolsATN has grown into the VOICE for traumatized children and their families. With membership that reaches around the world, we provide training both online and on-location training in therapeutic parenting, offer private online support communities moderated by experienced therapeutic parents and maintain a worldwide database of therapists and resources. We are proud to be the premier support, education and advocacy system for those raising traumatized and attachment-disordered children.

Remaining true to the vision of our founder, Nancy Spoolstra, our focus is on helping  children impacted by trauma and struggling with attachment and their families by first supporting, educating and equipping the parents. Personalized peer-to-peer support is a hallmark of ATN.  This support includes locating resources, providing education to professionals and the public and advocating for public awareness and policy changes.

Today, our Board of Directors and a growing team of staff, consultants and volunteers reaches out to families who are meeting the needs of our most precious resource — our children — who struggle with the impacts of their early trauma.

Through it all, our message is simple and has remained the same for over 25 years: “You are Not Alone” and there is “Hope for Healing”.

Empowering Trauma-Informed Families, Schools & Community

OUR TEAM

Julie Beem, MBA
Executive Director
Julie Beem has been the Executive Director of the Attachment & Trauma...
Stephanie Garde, JD
Operations Manager
Stephanie Garde volunteered with ATN for 9 years and was a Board...
Dr. Melissa Sadin
Creating Trauma-Sensitive Schools Director
Melissa is a mother to two sons (one adopted and one bio),...
Ginger Healy, MSW, LCSW
Parenting Program Director
Ginger Healy received her master’s degree in social work from UNLV in...
Lorraine Schneider
Board President
Responsible for much of the behind-the-scenes administration of ATN, Lorraine is an...
Landon Kirk
Board Member
Landon has devoted most of the past 20+ years serving children, teens,...
Danny Pancratz
Board Member
Danny Pancratz is the Director of Product Development at Americas’ SAP Users’...
Neil C. Van Rossum, MS, LCSW, CSAC
Board Member
Neil has been in the substance abuse and mental health fields since...
Sandy Wirtel
Board Member
Sandy Wirtel is an attorney in Kansas City, Missouri whose practice focuses...
Carl Young
Board Member
Carl and his wife are parents of five, three who have special...
Susan Craig, Ph.D.
Advisory Council Member
Dr. Craig is the founder and president of SEC Enterprises, Inc. A...
Ross Greene, Ph.D.
Advisory Council Member
Dr. Greene is the originator of the innovative, research-based approach now known...
Adam Pertman
Advisory Council Member
Mr. Pertman is president of the National Center on Adoption and Permanency...
You are not alone

ENDING THE SILENCE