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California's First Surgeon General: Screen Every Student for Childhood Trauma []


By Patrice Gaines, NBC News, October 11, 2019

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris has an ambitious dream: screen every student for childhood trauma before entering school.

"A school nurse would also get a note from a physician that says: 'Here is the care plan for this child's toxic stress. And this is how it shows up,'" said Burke Harris, who was appointed California's first surgeon general in January.

"It could be it shows up in tummy aches. Or it's impulse control and behavior, and we offer a care plan. Instead of reacting harshly and punitively, every educator is trained in recognizing these things. Instead of suspending and expelling or saying, 'What's wrong with you?' we say, 'What happened to you?'"

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MN has required developmental screening for all 3-4-year-olds that is funded through the State, and implemented at the local level by the school districts, who utilize an interdisciplinary team of health care and educators. I have often thought that we could leverage this existing practice to better understand which children have experienced childhood trauma. This would give the receiving schools an opportunity to look at incoming classes of Kindergartners and better prepare their staff and classrooms for students' needs.

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