Practices to Increase Healing & Trauma-Informed Services at School-Based Health Centers
This toolkit aims to provide resources and lessons learned on how school-based health centers (SBHCs) can increase trauma-informed practices and student resilience. Each section includes a description of the focus area, project highlights, resources from the two projects, and examples of how SBHCs and schools can implement effective practices to support students with trauma exposure. Becoming a more trauma-informed system that increases student resilience is more than a one-time intervention or training. It involves a perspective and culture shift that requires commitment and time.
“To ensure that all children, especially Black youth, have the privilege to live full lives, educators must confront racism and the resulting trauma from it. If not, we are not really doing equity work, and we are not really trauma-informed or trauma-sensitive. We are just saying we are.”
– Dena Simmons, EdD
The California School-Based Health Alliance believes that engaging in anti-racist practice is essential to comprehensive trauma-informed services. We recognize that sociocultural trauma that students experience – such as oppression, racism, sexism, inequity, homophobia, implicit bias, micro aggression, ableism, xenophobia, and classism – informs their daily lives.
These cultural contexts can compound the effects of more commonly referenced trauma such as violence, sexual assault, natural disaster, loss, medical trauma, child abuse and neglect, and forced displacement.
When creating more trauma-informed schools it is necessary to address all the ways that trauma can affect students, families, and communities, and to approach the work with cultural humility and deep self-reflection of power and privilege.
The Power of Resilience
Trauma-informed practices should also take into consideration resilience and the strength and protective factors that students and communities possess. Many students thrive even while experiencing trauma. Providers must build upon the strength and capacity that is already inherent in the students and communities that they serve.
Like trauma, resilience can be passed between generations and positively impact individuals, families, and communities. The human brain always retains the capacity to adapt and grow.
The self healing skills we define as resilience can ripple into families and communities and be passed to the next generation.
Image courtesy PACEs Connection
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From 2015 to 2020, the California School Based Health Alliance (CSHA) helped develop and support two important projects designed to improve the ways schools and SBHCs address the impacts of trauma on students and schools.
This toolkit is a collection of lessons learned from these projects together with resources to help SBHCs across California more effectively support schools and students in addressing trauma and chronic stress.
- The Young Men’s Empowerment Collaborative, through a series of interventions at SBHCs in West Contra Costa Unified School District, aimed to help young men of color who had witnessed or been exposed to violence. Funded by the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice.
- The Oakland Opportunity Fund, through SBHCs in Oakland Unified School District, aimed to mitigate the impacts of trauma in students and school environments by increasing trauma screening and intervention and improving school culture and climate to be more trauma-informed. Funded by The San Francisco Foundation.
Our Framework for Trauma
CSHA recognizes sociocultural trauma such as oppression, racism, sexism, inequity, homophobia, implicit bias, micro aggression, ableism, xenophobia and classism that students experience in their environments informs their daily lives.
These cultural contexts can compound the effects of more commonly thought of trauma such as violence, sexual assault, natural disaster, loss, medical trauma, child abuse and neglect, and forced displacement.
When creating more trauma-informed schools it is necessary to address all the ways that trauma can affect students, families, and communities and to approach the work with cultural humility and deep self-reflection of power and privilege.