#5: Building the Trauma-Informed Skillset in Schools
The Imprint is highlighting each of the policy recommendations made this summer by the participants of the Foster Youth Internship Program, a group of 11 former foster youths who have completed congressional internships.
The program is overseen each summer by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. Each of the participants crafted a policy recommendation during their time in Washington, D.C.
Today we highlight the recommendation of Isabelle Goodrich, a senior at Western Colorado University.
Congress should establish a demonstration program allowing school districts with “high concentrations of Black youth in foster care” to test new strategies for ensuring their workforce have trauma-informed skills and knowledge. And it should appropriate more money under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for states and school districts to increase trauma-informed practices and training, and hire more counselors, social workers and psychologists.
Students who are living in foster care experience all kinds of educational disruptions, and research shows that this is particularly true for Black youth in the system. Goodrich cites data from Los Angeles, where thousands of Black foster youth attend school, showing disproportionate rates of suspension, placement into special education and chronic absence.
These numbers, she writes, underscore the “universal need for increased trauma-informed training and support to help schools meet the needs of similar populations of students across the country.”
In Their Own Words
“When I was in high school, I entered foster care and faced many obstacles that made it difficult to complete my schoolwork or find the motivation to go to school, including homelessness, depression, and instability at home. Fortunately, I had a teacher who recognized my struggles. She never tried to ‘fix’ me, but she did help me try to find a path to success. While other teachers saw me as rude or disengaged, ‘staring off’ or ‘dozing off’ in class, my teacher met me where I was.”
The Imprint’s Take
More than one third of Black foster youth are chronically absent from school in Los Angeles. There is no way to interpret that as anything other than a failure to keep these youth connected to learning. California keeps particularly good data on this, and we wonder what is known about rates of chronic absence for foster youth in other regions.
Would a trauma-informed environment, staffed with more workers skilled in the arts of connecting with students outside of the traditional classroom relationship, put a dent in such a trend? It stands to reason, and is worth experimentation.