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Cornell University

TCI System Overview

A Child in Crisis Needs Help

What kind of help and how it is given make a crucial difference between the child's learning from the experience or being set back. The Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) training program for child and youth care staff presents a crisis prevention and intervention model designed to teach staff how to help children learn constructive ways to handle crisis. 
The ability of the entire organization to respond effectively to children and young people in crisis situations is critical in establishing not only a safe environment, but also one that promotes growth and development. The skills, knowledge, and professional judgment of staff in responding to crises are critical factors in helping young people learn constructive and adaptive ways to deal with frustration, failure, anger, rejection, hurt, and depression. While TCI is primarily intended for those who care for children and young people living in out-of-home settings or in schools (private and public), it has also been adapted for foster care families. 

How Does the TCI System Help?

The purpose of the TCI system is to provide a crisis prevention and intervention model for residential child care organizations that will assist in:  Preventing crises from occurring, de-escalating potential crises, effectively managing acute crises, reducing potential and actual injury to children and staff, learning constructive ways to handle stressful situations, and developing a learning circle within the organization.

Who Is TCI Training for?

The RCCP offers three TCI training programs that have been adapted for specific audiences. Note that while the language of TCI instruction has been tailored to specific audiences, all three programs teach the same core TCI material. Click the titles below to read a general overview of the TCI System, including information about the program’s history, effectiveness, and where it is being practiced. 

  • TCI Training of Trainers (TxT): This course is for trainers, managers, counselors, social workers, and care workers working in out-of-home settings capable of training therapeutic crisis intervention techniques. Participants who are taking part in the physical intervention part of the program must be capable of moderate physical activity.  
  • TCI for Families Training of Trainers (TCIF TxT): This course is for trainers, administrators, supervisors, social workers, foster and adoptive case workers and providers interested in training crisis prevention and intervention techniques to caregivers.  There are no physical interventions associated with this program.
  • TCI for Schools Training of Trainers (TCIS TxT): This course is for trainers, principals, school counselors/psychologists, teachers, social workers, teacher assistants and other school personnel working in school settings capable of training crisis intervention techniques.   Participants who are taking part in the physical intervention part of the program must be capable of moderate physical activity.

  • The Residential Child Care Project offers multiple updates for TCI trainers who have successfully completed Cornell University's Therapeutic Crisis Intervention Train-the-Trainer (TxT) Program. If you would like to download a copy of the TCI Course Bulletin, which includes descriptions of all TCI courses, please click the image in the column to the left, below the menu. For information on a specific update, please visit the TCI Updates page of this website.  

How Was TCI Developed?

In 1979 with a grant from the National Center of Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN) staff of the Family Life Development Center (FLDC) at Cornell University undertook a study of child abuse and neglect in New York State group care institutions. The purpose of this study was to assess the nature and extent of child abuse and neglect when it occurs in the institutional setting, and to identify those factors associated with its incidence. Factors associated with the incidence of abuse and neglect included the inappropriate use of discipline, isolation and restraint, and poor management practices. FLDC staff spent many months researching other crisis intervention curricula, meeting with child care experts, and visiting child care agencies in order to develop a comprehensive training program that addressed the issues outlined in the research. TCI training was developed and pilot-tested at approximately eight facilities from the study sample of sixteen. Concurrently, the entire sample was involved in the testing of a model response system in reporting and investigating child abuse. From 1981 to 1982, child abuse reports (not instances of abuse) in those facilities that had pilot-tested the Cornell curriculum decreased by forty percent. In those sample facilities, which were not exposed to the new training materials, reporting child abuse increased by more than two hundred percent. (Note: By virtue of being in the sample, all of these agencies were much more likely to be sensitive to reporting issues and were, therefore, more likely to make a report.)

How Is TCI Effectiveness Measured?

From 1994-1997, the RCCP and child caring agencies in the Northeastern United States and the United Kingdom conducted joint evaluation projects that introduced TCI into residential treatment settings and evaluated its effect on the organizations. Throughout the life of this joint evaluation project, critical incidents were collected and an advisory group from the agencies met with the Cornell Team. Other data collection methods were pre-/post-tests, surveys, and interviews with staff, supervisors, and young people. All levels of residential child care personnel at both sites attended TCI training. Supervisors attended additional training, to assist them in monitoring and supporting the model. Results from both of the project sites indicated a decrease in physical restraint episodes, fighting incidents, physical assaults, runaways, and verbal threats. Results also indicated that after attending TCI training staff felt more confident in their ability to manage any crisis situation, work effectively with co-workers, and help young people learn to cope more successfully with crisis. Staff reported they were less afraid to manage crisis situations and were more focused on the needs of the young people. They also reported an increase in knowledge about agency policy and procedures for crisis management. For additional information about TCI, please download a copy of the "TCI Systems Bulletin" by clicking the icon in the sidebar of this page. 

Where Is TCI Being Practiced?

Worldwide, over 3000 professionals have been certified as TCI trainers. Trainers are located throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Bermuda, Vietnam, and the Republic of Korea.    




To Get Information About: (email is preferred to phone call)
Main RCCP contact - general information Kaitlyn Martin
TCI Training Dates Click here
TCI Registration Process Click here
Individual TCI Registration or Payment Issues - USA Alissa Burns Medero
Individual TCI Registration or Payment Issues - NYS OCFS Sponsored ONLY Debra Mojica
Individual TCI Registration or Payment Issues - UK/Ireland Angela Stanton-Greenwood
Bringing TCI to Your Agency via Onsite Training or TCI System Implementation Alissa Burns Medero
Individual TCI Trainer Certification Status or Other Certification Issues Kris Carlison
Holly Smith
Implementing TCI Training for Your Staff Andrea Turnbull