Date of Completion


Embargo Period



early childhood; preschool; adverse childhood experiences; self-regulation; trauma; student-teacher relationship

Major Advisor

Cristina Mogro-Wilson

Associate Advisor

S. Megan Berthold

Associate Advisor

Preston Britner

Field of Study

Social Work


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


The preschool setting is a natural system of care that can be leveraged to mitigate the effects of childhood adversity, such as maltreatment and violence exposure. However, school-based trauma-informed supports for preschoolers lag behind those for older children, this despite the fact that young children, and particularly low-income children in urban areas, are exposed to disproportionate rates of adversity. This body of work examines the impact of cumulative adversity on children within the preschool context and makes recommendations to aid in the development of trauma-informed preschool models. This is done through one conceptual paper and two empirical papers, derived from a large study with a single sample. The conceptual paper outlines the impact of early childhood adversity and covers current research related to maltreated children’s preschool outcomes and existing trauma-informed school models, ultimately making recommendations for key components of trauma-informed preschool models. The first empirical article uses cross-sectional data from a quantitative study of parents, children, and teachers to identify the impact of household and environmental adversity on various components of self-regulation (i.e., children’s ability to control their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors). The second data-driven article uses data from teachers throughout the school year to determine whether mid-year self-regulation mediates the relationship between children’s cumulative adversity exposure and student-teacher relationships at the end of the school year. This dissertation focuses on understanding the impact of cumulative adversity on children within the preschool context in order to inform the advancement of developmentally appropriate trauma-informed interventions to support the well-being of young children who have been exposed to adversity.