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