Trauma-Informed Schools

A Model for Creating a Supportive Trauma-Informed Culture for Children in Preschool Settings
Holmes, C., Levy, M., Smith, A., Pinne, S., & Neese, P. (2014). A Model for Creating a Supportive Trauma-Informed Culture for Children in Preschool Settings. Journal of Child and Family Studies J Child Fam Stud, 24(6), 1650-1659. doi: 10.1007/s10826-014-9968-6

Abstract from Article: “The all too common exposure of young children to traumatic situations and the life-long consequences that can result underscore the need for effective, developmentally appropriate interventions that address complex trauma. This paper describes Head Start Trauma Smart (HSTS), an early education/mental health cross-systems partnership designed to work within the child’s natural setting—in this case, Head Start classrooms. The goal of HSTS is to decrease the stress of chronic trauma, foster age-appropriate social and cognitive development, and create an integrated, trauma-informed culture for young children, parents, and staff. Created from a community perspective, the HSTS program emphasizes tools and skills that can be applied in everyday settings, thereby providing resources to address current and future trauma. Program evaluation findings indicate preliminary support for both the need for identification and intervention and the potential to positively impact key outcomes.”

‘Am I safe here and do you like me?’ Understanding complex trauma and attachment disruption in the classroom
O'neill, L., Guenette, F., & Kitchenham, A. (2010). ‘Am I safe here and do you like me?’ Understanding complex trauma and attachment disruption in the classroom. British Journal of Special Education, 37(4), 190-197. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8578.2010.00477.x

Abstract from Article: “Elementary and special education teachers and school counsellors currently provide support to children presenting learning disabilities and behavioural problems symptomatic of the more hidden diagnosis of complex trauma resulting from abuse or severe attachment disruption. Specific disorders such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) may be diagnosed in such children, but not the aetiology of complex trauma, resulting in missing information in the development of remedial and behavioural interventions. The evolving field of trauma counselling provides important information to special education teachers and school counsellors who work with children who have experienced trauma. In this review article authors Linda O'Neill of the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), Francis Guenette who is a doctoral student at the University of Victoria and Andrew Kitchenham of the University of Northern British Columbia summarise attachment, neurobiological, and complex trauma research that can be used in school settings to understand better the needs of these children. They conclude by suggesting that teachers and school counsellors would benefit from training on the consequences of childhood trauma and attachment disruption to develop interventions that will be effective and to identify what types of behaviours children can control and those they cannot.”

Building Trauma-Informed Schools and Communities
Walkley, M., & Cox, T. L. (2013). Building Trauma-Informed Schools and Communities. Children & Schools, 35(2), 123-126. doi:10.1093/cs/cdt007

Abstract from Article: “Traumatic events such as the school shootings in Sandy Hook and Columbine naturally call national media attention to the need for support services to assist the affected children and families. Much less in the media eye are the children attending school each week affected by toxic stress and trauma as a result of adverse childhood experiences such as chronic neglect and family violence. Regardless of the root of the trauma, those working in a capacity to support children can benefit from gaining a deeper understanding of how trauma affects child development and what intervention efforts have been effective in helping children heal. In addition, student support staff can be instrumental in advocating for changes in school and service system policies and protocols that exacerbate, rather than ameliorate, the experiences of trauma-affected children. This article focuses on the impact of trauma on development and the promise of trauma-informed schools. It examines how this approach may hold the key to improving the emotional and physical safety of students, while also improving academic and behavioral outcomes.”

Creating Trauma-Informed Classrooms
Call, C., Purvis, K., Parris, S., & Cross, D. (2014) Creating Trauma Informed Classrooms (National Council of Adoption Publication), 75, 1-10. 

This publication discusses the importance of recognizing the impact of trauma and how to successfully implement trauma-informed classrooms.

Creating Trauma-Sensitive Classrooms
Statman-Weil, K. (2015) Creating Trauma-Sensitive Classrooms (NAEYC Publication), 72-79.

According to the article, “26% of children in the United States witness or experience trauma before the age of 4. Since the effects of trauma can be profound, it is imperative, therefore, that early childhood settings be safe, trauma-sensitive spaces where teachers support children in creating positive self-identities”(2015).  The article discusses how to support children who have experienced trauma and it includes useful resources on childhood trauma.

Implementing Trauma—Informed Practices in the School Setting: A Pilot Study
Perry, D. L., & Daniels, M. L. (2016). Implementing Trauma—Informed Practices in the School Setting: A Pilot Study. School Mental Health, 8(1), 177-188. doi:10.1007/s12310-016-9182-3

Abstract from Article: “There is a proven link between healthy socioemotional development and academic success (SAMHSA in SAMHSA’s concept of trauma and guidance for a trauma-informed approach. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, 2014; Alisic et al. in J Clin Psychiatry 69:1455–1461, 2008; Landolt et al. in J Trauma Stress 26:209–216, 2013). In order to achieve academic success, school systems serving children who have been exposed to trauma must deal with the unique challenge that come with resultant activation of the brain’s stress response (Perry in J Calif Alliance Ment III 11(1):48–51, 2000; Ford in Treatment of complex trauma: a sequenced, relationship-based approach. Guilford Press, New York, 2013; Schore in Infant Mental Health J 22(1&2):7–66, 2001). This warrants an alteration in how our educational system understands and responds to the needs of youth exposed to trauma (Bailey in I love you rituals. Harper Collins, New York, 2000; Stein and Kendall in Psychological trauma and the developing brain. Haworth Press, Binghamton, 2004; Badenoch in Being a brain-wise therapist: a practical guide to interpersonal neurobiology. WW Norton & Company, Inc., New York, 2008). Within the City of New Haven, the pressure to meet national expectations coupled with the reality that many schools within the city are impacted by the ripple effects of community-wide chronic stress creates added challenges. The New Haven Trauma Coalition was created to address the negative mental health and social effects of adversity, trauma, and chronic stress on families and school-aged children in the New Haven area. This paper reviews the process of implementing a trio of Direct Services in one public pilot school in the City of New Haven. It provides recommendations on how to successfully implement trauma-informed practices during the first year of implementation and utilizes a mixed-methods approach to outline findings obtained during implementation of three separate Direct Service components: Services Professional Development, Care Coordination, and Clinical Services.”

Making Space for Learning: Trauma-Informed Practice in Schools
Australian Childhood Foundation. (2010). Making Space for Learning (Resource Guide). 1-100.

A resource guide on the impact of trauma on students’ performance at school and how schools can best support traumatized students. It’s directed to teachers, principals and counsellors.

Student perspectives on how trauma experiences manifest in the classroom: Engaging court-involved youth in the development of a trauma-informed teaching curriculum
West, S. D., Day, A. G., Somers, C. L., & Baroni, B. A. (2014). Student perspectives on how trauma experiences manifest in the classroom: Engaging court-involved youth in the development of a trauma-informed teaching curriculum. Children and Youth Services Review, 38, 58-65. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2014.01.013

Abstract from Article: “This study explores how the lived experience of court-involved youth impacts learning and school culture, and solicits youth voice in creating a trauma-informed intervention to improve student educational well-being. Thirty-nine female students, with ages 14 to 18, participated in focus groups to describe externalizing behaviors that they have both witnessed and personally struggled with in the classroom, discuss the perceived causes of these behaviors, and their suggestions for improving school culture to reduce these behavior manifestations in the classroom. Two major categories of behavior were identified, including: “anger emotions” and “aggressive actions.” Students described the causes of behavior as, “environmental influences” and “triggers.” The most common solutions that students gave to reduce externalizing behaviors in school settings included “encouraging respect of others” and “improving behavior management to enhance student engagement.” An additional solution suggested by the students included the “monarch room as support.” The Monarch Room is an alternative intervention to traditional suspension/expulsion polices that provides students in need of specific emotional support an opportunity to redirect/de-escalate externalizing behavior or mood in the school setting. This study highlights the need for trauma-informed approaches in school settings, and the importance of the inclusion of a youth voice in developing and implementing these intervention models.”

Trauma-Informed Schools
Wiest-Stevenson, C., & Lee, C. (2016). Trauma-Informed Schools. Journal of Evidence-Informed Social Work, 13(5), 498-503. doi:10.1080/23761407.2016.1166855

Abstract from Article: “Violence has impacted every aspect of daily life. These tragedies have shocked the world. This has resulted in school communities being fractured. Additionally, The National Survey of Children Exposed to Violence found that 60% of the children surveyed have been exposed to some form of trauma, either in or out of school. Traumatology research has shown most people respond to a wide range of traumatic events in similar ways. The common responses include traumatic responses, posttraumatic stress responses, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In this article the authors outline the impact of trauma on children within school systems; discuss the mental health services schools are providing; present a trauma-informed school model; identifies tools which can be utilized in schools; and provide resources needed for a trauma-informed school, along with additional tools and resources. The authors discuss future recommendations for the community and schools as traumatic events continue to grow and impact a large number of children.”

Teachers' perspectives on providing support to children after trauma: A qualitative study.
Alisic, E. (2012). Teachers' perspectives on providing support to children after trauma: A qualitative study. School Psychology Quarterly, 27(1), 51-59. doi:10.1037/a0028590

Abstract from Article: “A considerable number of children are exposed to extreme stressors such as the sudden loss of a loved one, serious traffic accidents, violence, and disaster. In order to facilitate school psychologists' assistance of teachers working with traumatized children, this study aimed to explore elementary school teachers' perspectives. Using a qualitative design, the study explored the perspectives of a purposively varied sample of 21 elementary school teachers (ages 22–55 years; with 0.5–30 years of teaching experience; 5 men). The teachers participated in semistructured interviews, which were transcribed and analyzed in line with the method of “summative analysis” by F. Rapport. Even though some teachers expressed confidence in working with children after traumatic exposure and many referred to a supportive atmosphere within the school, the most prominent themes in the participants' narratives reflected uncertainty about, or a struggle with, providing optimal support to children. They searched for a clear role definition as well as a good balance in answering conflicting needs of the exposed children and classmates, wished for better knowledge and skills, and experienced difficulties related to the emotional burden of their work. The findings suggest a need for further research into this understudied topic. In addition, the identified themes can be used by school psychologists to systematically explore individual teachers' strengths and difficulties and to provide them with tailored advice and training.”

Toward a Blueprint for Trauma-Informed Service Delivery in Schools
Chafouleas, S. M., Johnson, A. H., Overstreet, S., & Santos, N. M. (2015). Toward a Blueprint for Trauma-Informed Service Delivery in Schools. School Mental Health, 8(1), 144-162. doi:10.1007/s12310-015-9166-8

Abstract from Article: Recognition of the benefits to trauma-informed approaches is expanding, along with commensurate interest in extending delivery within school systems. Although information about trauma-informed approaches has quickly burgeoned, systematic attention to integration within multitiered service delivery frameworks has not occurred yet is essential to accurate, durable, and scalable implementation. In addition, there is a critical need to concurrently build a strong evidence base regarding trauma-informed service delivery in schools. In this paper, the literatures on trauma-informed approaches and multitiered frameworks for school-based service delivery are connected with the goal to provide suggestions toward building blueprints for trauma-informed service delivery in schools. Drawing from the literature on implementation blueprints for school-wide positive behavior supports, sections are organized around current knowledge about trauma-informed approaches with regard to blueprints for (a) implementation, (b) professional development, and (c) evaluation. Critical issues, strategy recommendations, and directions for research are discussed.