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New KY Coalition Aims to Promote Trauma-Informed Education in Schools

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A new statewide coalition wants schools and communities to focus on trauma-informed education and care for students. More from Nadia Ramlagan (StockPhoto).
A new statewide coalition wants schools and communities to focus on trauma-informed education and care for students. More from Nadia Ramlagan (StockPhoto).
December 15, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- A new statewide coalition wants schools and communities to focus on trauma-informed education and care for students.

The Kentucky Coalition for Healthy Children, formed by more than two dozen organizations during the pandemic, wants to promote policies and programs that recognize how adverse childhood events affect children's social and emotional health, as well as other health issues for youth, such as diabetes, obesity, hunger and mental health.

Allison Adams is vice president for public policy at the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, the organization spearheading the effort. She said schools are a starting point to address health and education inequities.

"For some students, if they can't be in school, they might go hungry. And it's also where they could get counseling services," Adams said. "We're relying heavily on school systems for a lot more than just educating children."

The latest data from America's Health Rankings show more than 25% of children in the Commonwealth experienced two or more such adverse events in 2017 and 2019, including domestic violence, physical or sexual abuse, having a parent spend time in jail, racial discrimination and parental divorce, among others.

Adams believes the coalition will provide space for advocacy groups and community members to share expertise and information, identify potential solutions and mobilize advocacy efforts.

"As we're asking and putting more and more on education, on teachers and superintendents and principals in our schools, we have to also be willing to support them," she said. "We can't just keep asking them to do things and not provide the funding, the policy change."

She said the pandemic has placed unprecedented levels of trauma and stress on kids and families, and said when kids do return to regular school, educators will need new strategies.

"You know we used to ask the question, 'what's wrong with you?' And we really want our adults who are interacting with our children to change the mindset and say, 'what happened to you?' As you're trying understand where the child is coming from, so that we can meet the child where they are," she said.

More information about the Kentucky Coalition for Healthy Children can be found at kentuckyhealthychildren.org.

Disclosure: Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Health Issues, Smoking Prevention. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - KY