Trauma Sensitive Schools Training Generates Positive Outcome for Teachers and Students
2023 marks 15 years that Wellpoint Care Network has been at the forefront of the Trauma Informed Care (TIC) movement.
Knowing what we do about the impact of adversity on the developing brain, Wellpoint Care has taken educational innovation one step further with our Trauma Sensitive Schools approach.
Our approach, built on the Seven Essential Ingredients of Trauma Informed Care framework, infuses schools with the core values of safety, trust and collaboration. It acknowledges the prevalence of trauma exposure among students and empowers educators to recognize common, as well as hidden, barriers to learning.
One of the many people who have benefitted from this training is Jodi Weber, Assistant Executive Director at Seeds of Health. Seeds of Health operates five charter schools in the Milwaukee area, including one K-8 and four high schools that predominantly serve students of color, Spanish-speaking families and low-income communities.
“We’re always looking for new and better ways to understand the students we work with, and to make our culture and climate at our school buildings successful for students,” said Weber. “I saw the Trauma Sensitive Schools training advertised, and I thought it was a great fit because mental health has always been something I’m passionate about.”
Weber was first introduced to Wellpoint Care Network’s Trauma Informed Care framework in 2018. She became a certified trainer, and began doing small group trainings for all principals and staff at every school operated by Seeds of Health.
“During our new staff orientation, I do a four-hour overview of Trauma Informed Care and strategies. We know it’s not a curriculum, it’s a philosophy, it’s a belief.”
One of the biggest concepts she emphasizes to those she trains is asking not, ‘What’s wrong with that student?,’ but ‘What happened to that student?’
“I think that’s a really powerful philosophy and way of reframing kids,” said Weber. “We used to blame kids and not look at their past. I think once we break down our kids and their home life and what has happened to them, we can understand their behaviors and begin to work better with them. We’re better prepared when kids are having tough days and not thinking rationally. We’re understanding their past so that we’re able to give them breaks and tools, whether it’s sensory integration or calming corners or fidgets.”
After seeing the impacts that Trauma Informed Care was having in the schools regarding our Wellpoint Care Network model, Seeds of Health decided to take the next step and contract with Wellpoint Care for on-site therapy in 2020. A second therapist was added in 2021 to expand services and reach more students.
“Being able to have that therapy on-site has been amazing,” said Weber. “We’ve had some kids with mental health issues that we’ve been able to refer right over. No one leaves school, and no transportation is needed.”
“A lot of the communities we work with, mental health is a stigma and it’s not recognized. We’ve seen a lot of our kids suffer because they haven’t been able to have access to mental health services. I think it’s getting our kids to recognize that it’s okay to seek help, as well as our parents. A lot of our parents don’t trust outside organizations. So, if we’re saying this is someone we know and it’s right here, we’ve been able to open up parents’ eyes that kids do suffer from anxiety or do have issues and these are real issues.”
Another benefit is that kids can get immediate care, there is no delay in finding a therapist, and then getting put on a wait list.
“Recently, we had a serious trauma where we lost a student to gunfire,” added Weber. “Our therapist was really able to help us talk to our kids about that. Our staff were grieving. That was really hard, so Wellpoint Care provided that extra wraparound care.”
Overall, Weber says the mental health of students is important and should be a conversation in all schools, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nationwide, young kids and adolescents are really suffering from more and more mental health problems. The inequities that we see, our families not being able to access mental health resources or they have the language barriers. I saw a lot of kids denied access and that’s where I started this mission to have it right in school. We often saw kids missing days of school, full days because of one appointment. The training and resources from Wellpoint Care Network changes that narrative.”
To learn more about the Training and Consulting Wellpoint Care Network offers, click here.