Rep. Sappey to introduce trauma informed education legislation [DailyLocal.com]

WEST CHESTER — State Rep. Christina Sappey, D-Chester, and Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, R-Lehigh/Berks, will be introducing legislation aimed at creating trauma-informed school environments in Pennsylvania.

“House Bill 1415 seeks to ensure that adverse childhood experiences are recognized in the school setting, where children arguably spend the most time, so they get the support they need to reach their full potential,” Sappey said.

Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs include all forms of abuse, neglect and other potentially traumatic experiences that occur under the age of 18. The more ACEs one child has, the greater the probability for high-risk health behaviors, chronic health conditions, emotional and behavioral dysfunction and early death, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This legislation would help teachers and staff in schools to get the training they need to recognize the signs of childhood trauma and assist in overcoming the hurdles students face in school due to the severe impacts on their brain development and functionality, as revealed by decades of research,” Sappey said.

This bill would instill trauma-informed and focused policies, procedures and practices inside the classroom, such as requiring newly elected school board members, educators and other school staff members who have direct contact with children to complete training on trauma-informed approaches to education.

Some aspects of the required training would include identifying the signs of trauma among students, how to utilize multi-tiered support systems, and recognizing schoolwide policies related to positive behavior supports, restorative justice and resiliency.

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Read the entire article from 5/9/2019 here:  https://www.dailylocal.com/new...20-875b3cdf7c1f.html

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Daun, 

Your comments are very important.  While we would all like to see our schools move towards being trauma-informed and sensitive environments for children, as well as for the adults who are with them each day, it is no simple task to accomplish.  It can be done poorly and incompletely with limited and temporary results if not approached with the right attitudes, resources, and implementation strategies.  Indeed, "training" is likely to be a small part of the solution, since being "informed" does not automatically change behavior and attitudes much less decades of tradition and implicit bias.  Real change needs to start inside the hearts and minds of the people who will implement systemic changes. Perhaps the first kind of trauma that will need to be addressed is the very real stress that teachers experience  in the face of what can seem like constant organizational change.  Learning a "new way" to do something almost always leads to a period of disruption in which both the "old way" and the "new way" seem somehow "wrong," and this can lead to a sense of confusion and self-doubt which requires a caring supportive coping context in which to take risks and engage in the change process. 

 

Quoting:  "This bill would instill trauma-informed and focused policies, procedures and practices inside the classroom, such as requiring newly elected school board members, educators and other school staff members who have direct contact with children to complete training on trauma-informed approaches to education."

 

Hmmm, great start towards the goal !   

 

Meanwhile, we must all realize that State "requirements" imply a large cascade of change at ground level. We all need to acknowledge, up front, the radical paradigm shifts and related culture shifts which will be required in most all districts across the state.

 

Trauma-Informed Education(TIE) is much more than another "program". That sort of approach would be the kiss of death for TIE.

 

Importantly, the research says that successful efforts are championed by district and Board leadership, from the start, starting at the top of the top. Although the legislation is a great, great first step, unfortunately we can't "instill" or force this kind of paradigm shift legislatively, Acceptance and transition will not be easy. Districts need to sell (and educate) first, starting with "ACE Science" for teachers and administrators and staff..

 

Funding requirements need to be understood and committed to, long term.  Timing expectations and plans must be well managed.  Most experts cite a 3-4 year "rollout" period of learning, debugging and acceptance before fidelity is reached.  As part of the required resources,  the leadership resource will need to lead:  Lead culture shifts and champion investments in a variety of clear, strong and unwavering supports -- "statement supports" -   for the front line, first-responder-teachers and other adults in the building(and yard and transportation).   

 

Staffing support is central to success, for the safety of all.  "Safety" (for all) is the foundational premise of TIE, but at the same time, staff safety seems often skipped or quickly forgotten or phased out.   The research sheds clear light on TIE staffing support as crucial, Daily.  On-going.  The research emphasizes "on-going".  The set of required supports  will not decrease, they will increase over  early years. 

 

  Staffing supports are of equal or greater priority than child supports.  As in air travel:  "Adults please put on your own oxygen mask before trying to help others." 

 

 Then implementation research needs to be reflected at the point of broad roll-out planning.  And, and, and.  Much more.  We must thoroughly understand and carefully plan and support a TIE paradigm shift, from the start, if we wish fruitful change over time.

 

As Sandra Bloom says:

"Trying to implement trauma-specific clinical practices,  without first implementing trauma-informed organizational culture change,  would be like throwing seeds on dry land.”

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