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PACEs in Early Childhood

Plymouth County Schools Receiving Trauma Informed Training


By Katie Rayner and Jennifer Cantwell

The Drug Endangered Children’s Initiative has made the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative’s (TLPI) Helping Traumatized Children Learn training available to schools in Plymouth County through a grant-funded opportunity provided by the Office for Victims of Crime in partnership with the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office, Plymouth County Outreach, and the United Way of Greater Plymouth County’s Family Center. TLPI is a joint program of Massachusetts Advocates for Children and Harvard Law School.

This opportunity is for schools and districts to receive training to develop an awareness of the prevalence of traumatic experience, its impact on academic behavior and relations and the need for a whole school approach. For the 2019-2020 school year, Carver, Marshfield, Rockland, Scituate and Silver Lake qualified to receive free training from TLPI.

There are five core ideas of Helping Traumatized Children Learn:

  1. Many students have had traumatic experiences
  2. Trauma can impact learning behavior and relationships at school
  3. Trauma-sensitive schools help children feel safe so they can learn
  4. Trauma sensitivity requires a whole-school process
  5. Helping traumatized children learn should be a major focus of education reform

According to TLPI a trauma sensitive school is one in which all students feel safe, welcomed and supported and where addressing trauma’s impact on learning on a school wide basis is at the center of its educational mission.

TLPI’s mission is to ensure that children traumatized by exposure to family violence and other adverse childhood experiences succeed in school.

TLPI was started by the Massachusetts Advocates for children, in 2002 when they created a task force to help vulnerable children. From there they worked with the Massachusetts State Legislature to make a Safe and Supportive Learning Environment grant program, where there were small amounts of funding provided to schools, to help them create trauma sensitive approaches. In 2004, they partnered with Harvard Law School to create TLPI, and in 2005 created the book “Helping Traumatized Children Learn,” since 2005 over 95,000 copies of the book have sold.

“Helping Traumatized Children Learn marks a major milestone in child advocacy. Based on evidence from brain research, child development, and actual classrooms, here is a road map for parents, schools, administrators, and policy makers that shows concrete and feasible steps for making schools the life raft for children who otherwise may be misunderstood and abandoned by the community.” said Martha L. Minow Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor Harvard Law School.

Since the publication of Helping Traumatized Children Learn, TLPI published a second book titled Helping Traumatized Children Learn: Creating and Advocating for Trauma-Sensitive schools. This book provides a guide on how to create a Trauma Sensitive School and an agenda of how to reach that goal. Along with the book comes an online learning community that go hand in hand in order to enhance the overall learning experience that comes with trauma sensitive schools.

TLPI has partnered with various organizations around the state. TLPI is working closely with the Drug Endangered Children’s Initiative, a collaboration of the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office, Plymouth County Outreach, and The United Way of Greater Plymouth County’s Family Center. One of the main goals of the Drug Endangered Children’s Initiative is to partner with TLPI to make schools more trauma informed, so that teachers and school staff can get a better understanding of how to handle children who have experienced trauma in their homes.

For more information visit the TLPI website


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