July 2016

Things to Consider in July 2016 from the RTSC:

Why Preschool Suspensions Still Happen (And How To Stop Them)
This segment of NPR’s All Things Considered points out that one of the reasons why preschoolers (especially boys of color) are suspended so frequently is the paltry pay and poor training that many early learning teachers receive. In some areas of the country almost half of the students are living below the federal poverty level — and their teachers are living at the same level. The author suggests a simple solution:  first, don’t make suspension an option, and second: give teachers extra training and support.

Not only trauma but also the reversal of trauma is inherited
New epigenetic science is suggesting that the effects of trauma can be passed from one generation to the next.  This promising study sought to prove that the opposite is also true. Male mice were exposed to trauma in early postnatal life but lived in enriched conditions as adults – and, their behavior and the behavior of their offspring returned to normal.  This is the first time that environmental modifications (rather than pharmacological drugs) proved to be effective in reversing epigenetic alterations.

Non-Regulatory Guidance: Ensuring Educational Stability for Children in Foster Care 
The new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) emphasizes the importance of limiting educational disruption by keeping children in their home schools after they enter foster care or move from place to place within the system. If it is not in their best interest to stay in their home school (and there is now specific guidance about how to determine “best interest”), then the students must be enrolled in their new school without delay. A Q & A sheet entitled How Will the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Support Students In Foster Care? has also been published by the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, Education Law Center, and Juvenile Law Center. It gives succinct abstracts of the tenets of the new law that are most important to schools, parents, and other care providers.

At Any Skill Level, Making Art Reduces Stress Hormones
Using cortisol levels as a measure of stress, the researchers at Drexel University found that 75 percent of the participants’ cortisol levels lowered during their 45 minutes of making art. Their next area of study is to ascertain whether creative self- expression in a therapeutic environment or in end of life situations can help reduce client stress.

Useful Tools and Resources:

Seeking Input for a New Study: How Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities Cope
Researchers at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine are conducting a research study to learn about stress and coping among parents of children with specific learning disabilities. If you are parent of an elementary school-aged child with learning disabilities, your input will help inform the design of a new Resiliency Program for Parents of Children with Specific Learning Disabilities. Contact Emma Chad-Friedman, the project coordinator, with any and all questions! Her phone number is: 617-643-6036, and her email is: echadfriedman@partners.org.

Kids Count: Data Book 2016
Published annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, this seminal guidebook publishes national statistics on child well-bring using four domains to capture what children need most to thrive: (1) Economic Well-Being, (2) Education, (3) Health and (4) Family and Community. This year, Massachusetts is ranked number two in overall indicators of child well-being, and number one in education.

What other ACE surveys are out there? Here’s our list.
ACEs Connections has done the work of compiling all the Adverse Childhood Experiences studies that have been conducted throughout the world since the original survey was completed in 1997. Each of the studies has a link for further information. Massachusetts has not yet conducted an ACE survey.

Spotlight on SSI Benefits for Disabled or Blind Youth in Foster Care – 2016 Edition
Disabled or blind youth receiving Title IV-E federal foster care benefits usually cannot become eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) until foster care payments have stopped. Eligibility for foster care payments in most States usually ends at age 18. Beginning with SSI applications filed on or after August 1, 2016, SSA will accept an SSI application from a youth up to 180 days before his or her foster care eligibility will end due to age.

Quick Guide on Making School Climate Improvements
According to this guide, published by funding from the federal Department of Education, districts and schools can effectively improve school climate by engaging in five sets of activities. It offers strategies on how to effectively implement these sets of activities. It also offers advice on what to avoid.