Many more states back trauma-informed care in schools

Trauma-informed care better prepares educators to help children cope with COVID's emotional toll
By: | February 25, 2021
Some 33 states now promote professional development in mental health (up 18 from 2017. (AdobeStock/andreaobzerova)Some 33 states now promote professional development in mental health (up 18 from 2017. (AdobeStock/andreaobzerova)

The number of states that require or encourage schools to train teachers in trauma-informed care has tripled in recent years, a new study has found.

Professional development in mental health care and training for school resource officers increased the most among 200 school health policies examined in the report by the nonprofit research organization Child Trends, the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois-Chicago, and EMT Associates, Inc.

Some 33 states now promote professional development in mental health (up 18 from 2017) while 35 states have policies advocate training for school resource officers (up 16 from 2017).

Trauma-informed care will better prepare educators to help children cope with COVID’s social and emotional toll, said Deborah Temkin, a school health expert and lead author of the analysis.


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“Our analysis shows that states are making important strides toward making schools safer, more supportive learning environments for staff and children,” Temkin said. “These strides are important because they mean many states are well positioned to address the challenges of returning to school and ensuring kids return to a healthy learning environment.”

Child Trends’ analysis is a companion to the newly updated National Association of State Boards of Education State Policy Database on School Health, which covers state statutes, regulations and policies pertaining school climate, health and other safety topics.

The interactive database allows users to generate maps of which states address certain health topics, including: .

  • Policies combating the use of e-cigarettes on school campuses (adopted by 36 states),
  • Explicitly discouraging or prohibiting discussion of LGBTQ-related topics during sex education courses (which exist in 6 states),
  • Encouraging (7 states) or requiring (12 states) school climate surveys to assess conditions for learning.

“With the unprecedented disruption of COVID-19 comes an opportunity to rethink how we deliver on the promises of equity and excellence for every child,” said Robert Hull, president and CEO of the National Association of State Boards of Education.


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