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Capacity Building Assessment Tool for Organizations (CBAT-O)

The CBAT-O was developed over a decade ago through a Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration (SAMHSA) capacity building grant to help agencies become more trauma-
informed. In partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), ICOY conducts the CBAT-O to advance each participating organization’s ability to provide trauma-informed services and improve their ability to serve all youth. ICOY’s Trauma Initiatives Team only administers and distributes CBAT-O results to participating organizations across the state of Illinois. 

Organizations who have completed the CBAT-O, utilized their results and reports to revise organizational policies, strategic plans, and onboarding practices. Additionally, organizations have successfully applied for grant opportunities by highlighting their trauma-informed areas of growth and strength. 

Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) is an organizational culture change process that requires the traditional power hierarchy to be a more flattened, collaborative environment, while reflecting the paradigm shift from “What is wrong with you?” to “What has happened to you?” in all that we do (Bloom, 1994; Bloom, 2013; Harris & Fallot, 2001). 

What does it mean to be a trauma-informed individual? One must recognize what trauma is not only to them but to other people. Individuals recognize trauma symptoms and acknowledge the role trauma plays in person’s life, their experiences navigating systems, and in society.  

Since this is an evidence-based assessment created in partnership with SAMHSA, ICOY (Illinois Collaboration on Youth) is not able to modify it at will.  

Table of Contents

Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Statement

“IDHS has contracted with ICOY to assess, train, and work with the Department’s youth services program providers to build trauma capacity. The Department’s goal is to have 100% funded youth services providers achieving and maintaining a “Trauma Informed” status. All IDHS funded sites are expected to participate in the CBAT-O trauma assessment, training opportunities, and suggested action plans, if determined necessary. Sites will not be penalized for their responses or the scores that result from the accuracy of the responses. However, all IDHS sites are expected to have a minimum of 80% participation across all staff levels. The expectation is for all sites to experience growth in their delivery of trauma informed services.”  

The Purpose of the CBAT-O; the CBAT-O has 3 main goals: 1. To help organizations assess their ability to provide trauma-informed services. 2. To identify organization’s strengths in trauma-informed care. 3. To identify organization’s areas of growth in trauma-informed care.

CBAT-O Highlights and Structure

CBAT-O Highlights:

  • Online anonymous assessment distributed in the fall of each Fiscal Year 
  • Divided into 9 total sections 
  • 84 total questions– every question and/or statement counts towards the overall score of 136 total possible points. 
  • A score of 102 or higher is considered a “Trauma Informed” status 
  • The online assessment cannot be started, saved, and continued
    • It can take from 30 minutes up to 1 hour to complete 

CBAT-O Structure:

  • The first section of the CBAT-O is "The Trauma Sensitive Environment Checklist." Participants are asked to check each item that occurs at the agency's physical site. For example: "The program requires that staff arrive on-time for youth and families."
  • The subsequent eight sections ask participants to assess the agency's level of providing trauma-informed services. For example: "Organization board has youth participants as voting members." All questions require an answer, though some sections may have a "not applicable" option.

Sections of the CBAT-O:

  • Trauma Sensitive Environment Checklist
  • Organization Structure
  • Policies and Procedures
  • Supervisor Practice and Support
  • Staff Practice
  • Leadership
  • Training
  • Cultural Historical, Gender Identity, and Sexuality Responsiveness
  • Community Leadership

This information can also be found in the CBAT-O Informational Guide.

CBAT-O Rollout and Timeline

The CBAT-O is administered to all IDHS funded organizations on a fiscal year basis. The online assessment opens in October and closes in November of each fiscal year. ICOY’s Trauma Initiatives Team delivers CBAT-O results and reports to participating organizations in January of every fiscal year. Additionally, all participating organizations are expected to attend a Trauma Virtual Learning Community in the spring.

FY25 Trauma Initiatives Timeline



Director of Trauma Initiatives Gabriela Zamora has led the growth of the CBAT-O since 2021 with outstanding success. Some core examples are Gabriela’s creativity in launching new educational tools and engagement models for IDHS providers across Illinois. From FY22 to FY23 alone, service providers that successfully participated in the CBAT-O grew 68.86% across all IDHS programs. Gabriela is excited to continue expanding ways to utilize the CBAT-O results to advance trauma-informed capacity across the state.

For any additional questions, please reach out to us at trauma_initiatives@icoyouth.org

Additional CBAT-O Resources

ICOY’s Trauma Initiatives Team has put together various resources to support organizations and staff for the CBAT-O launch. Additionally, the team has prepared a FY24 checklist that includes all grantee’s Trauma-Informed Care curriculum expectations across all IDHS programs.

CBAT-O How-to Videos

  • Videos coming soon!

Contact Us

Please contact the Trauma Initiatives team at trauma_initiatives@icoyouth.org with any further questions you might have about the CBAT-O.

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