Below is an excerpt from, “State, federal lawmakers take action on trauma-informed policies, programs” by Elizabeth Prewitt on the Aces Too High website. The article highlights the Massachusetts bill “An Act Relative to Safe and Supportive Schools,” as well as other State and Federal efforts to promote trauma-informed schools in education policy.
Lawmakers around the country are beginning to take action to reduce the impact of childhood trauma—and the toxic stress it creates—on lifetime outcomes, particularly in education and health. The legislation being considered in Vermont to integrate screening for childhood trauma in health care, as reported recently on this site, is still percolating in the legislature. Another bill (H. 3528) being considered in Massachusetts seeks to create “safe and supportive schools” statewide. House Resolution 191 — which declares youth violence a public health epidemic and supports the establishment of trauma-informed education statewide — passed in Pennsylvania last spring and was ratified by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) at its annual meeting in August.
Prior to these efforts, the state of Washington passed a bill (H.R. 1965) in 2011 to identify and promote innovative strategies to prevent or reduce adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and to develop a public-private partnership to support effective strategies. In accordance with H.B. 1965, a group of private and public entities formed the Washington State ACEs Public-Private Initiative that is currently evaluating five communities’ ACEs activities. An APPI announcement about the launch of the project said that the 2.5-year evaluation (Fall of 2013-Spring of 2016) was undertaken “to contribute to the understanding of what combination of community-based strategies work best for reducing and preventing ACEs and their effects.”
According to APPI co-project manager Christina Hulet, the legislation has provided an important framework for the initiative to convene public and private entities to achieve collectively what individual partners could not do on their own. This is “the gold” of APPI, according to Hulet. While the evaluation design focuses on strategies to achieve better outcomes for children and families, it also seeks to document how costs are avoided or saved by ACEs mitigation. This is not a surprising objective at any time for cost-conscious states, but does reflect the budget-cutting environment of the 2011 legislative session when the bill passed.
Please read the complete article, and learn more about how States, like Massachusetts, and the Federal government are changing school policy to become more trauma-informed.