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Day Treatment Schools Help MO Students Coping with Trauma

The curriculum at trauma-informed schools includes resilience-building activities and coping strategies. (Annie Spratt/Pixabay)
The curriculum at trauma-informed schools includes resilience-building activities and coping strategies. (Annie Spratt/Pixabay)
August 16, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - They're not bad kids, they've just experienced some bad things. That's how several hundred Missouri students about to enter what are known as "day treatment schools" are being described.

The nonprofit Cornerstones of Care operates facilities in Kansas City, St. Louis and throughout the Midwest that focus on trauma-informed care. They factor in a child's background when deciding how they'll approach learning. Chief executive Denise Cross said a common denominator connects the students.

"Most of our children have experienced some kind of trauma in their lives, and they need a little extra attention," she said. "And they need additional tools to help them cope and be able to respond appropriately, and be able to learn, then, in a school setting."

Students at day-treatment schools can speak with therapists, and the classrooms are typically much smaller than traditional classrooms, so kids can get individualized attention. Cornerstones of Care partners with school districts with the ultimate goal of transitioning children back to their home schools.

Cross cited a growing appreciation for the need to create safe and healthy learning environments for children who have experienced everything from violence to family members in prison.

"So that they can be successful and they're not out of school," she said, "because we need them to be able to learn so that they can be successful, not only in the school settings but in their future."

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed the economic costs of untreated trauma. Trauma-related alcohol and drug abuse alone are estimated at more than $161 billion annually. The National Council for Behavioral Health has noted that many promising practices are available for treating trauma.

Kevin Patrick Allen, Public News Service - MO