August 2016

Things to Consider in August 2016 from RTSC:

Education for Homeless Children and Youths Program: Non-Regulatory Guidance
There are a number of changes that the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has made to the McKinney-Vento Act that highlight and respond to the needs of homeless children and youths across the educational spectrum. There is an increased focus on services for preschool-aged homeless children, who make up a large cohort of the overall homeless population. This includes the explicit inclusion of preschools in the definition of “school of origin.” A number of changes also draw attention to the need for homeless youths in secondary school to be college- and career-ready, and the important role that school staff can play in the transition to postsecondary education.

5 Best Practices for Youth in Foster Care Post-ESSA
The American Youth Policy Forum discusses five topics especially relevant to students in child welfare as a result of changes brought about by the passage of ESSA (some of these changes go into effect in December 2016): Best Interest Determination (for school placement), Dispute Resolution (between child welfare agencies and schools), Transportation (how far and who will pay), Immediate Enrollment, and Collaboration (including annual trainings for all stakeholders).

How Prisons Overtook Schools as the Foremost American Institutions
State and local government spending on incarcerating citizens between 1979 and 2013 has increased at three times the rate of expenditures on K-12 education  — a 324 percent increase ($17 to $71 billion) for prisons and jails, compared to a 107 percent increase ($258 to $534 billion) for primary and secondary schools. More alarmingly, expenditures on jails and prisons rose 89 percent during that same time period while spending on post-secondary education like community colleges and public universities remained totally flat.

Authentic Voices Video Series: Sharing Our Perspective
This collection of videos from the Capacity Building Center at the Children’s Bureau for States tells two to four minute stories from foster and adoptive parents, children, youth, and professionals. Each video lends insight into issues of belonging, connection, development, and normalcy for children and youth in out-of-home care.

How Trauma is Changing Children’s Brains
This article from the National Education Association describes the efforts of Brockton Public Schools to ensure a holistic approach to students who may have suffered adverse events that can impact behavior and academic performance. As a result of training by the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, teachers are able to offer safe and comforting zones to those exposed to trauma by not punishing them for a neurological disorder created by Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs).

How to Help Students by Helping Their Parents
The poverty rate for children in Lawrence, Mass. Schools is 39%.  How was the school district able to raise the high school graduation rate from 52% in 2011 to 67% in 2014, when statistically, the toxic stress of poverty is one of the biggest health risks that children face today? Five ways in which Lawrence and other communities who are experiencing education turn-around are discussed – and they all involve improving student lives by supporting their parents and care-givers.

Trauma and Boys, Birth to 3: What’s Different?
The authors’ research explores the ways in which infant and toddler boys respond differently to traumatic events as a result of their slower developmental timetable, their different relationship with their mothers, and their tendency to externalize frustration and stress. As they mature these responses may lead to school failure, conduct disorders or juvenile delinquency.

Does America Have PTSD?
This article by Judith Edersheim, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the MGH Center for Law, Brain and Behavior and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, suggests that many civilians in this country are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder — and yet it goes unidentified and untreated. She states that 9/11, and any number of mass shootings and natural disasters, coupled with the toxic stress of poverty in our inner cities and rural areas, is creating a perfect storm of mental illness, substance use, and mass incarceration.

Shadow Children: Putting An End To Re-Homing Adopted Children In Massachusetts
Senate Bill 2050: An Act relative to the re-homing of children, currently awaiting action by the House Ways and Means Committee, would make adoptions safer and more likely to succeed by ensuring that adoptive families receive the services they need, including training for adoption applicants who wish to adopt internationally. It would also create penalties for those who advertise a child online, those who accept or solicit payment for placing a child, those who take a child in through re-homing, and those who cause a child to be re-homed.

Useful Tools and Resources:

What’s going on in there?
This series of easy-to-read fact sheets gives parents and educators insights from neuroscience about the minds of students from pre-school through 8th grade.

Violence Related Trauma Resources
Resources are categorized by topic (i.e., Coping with Grief After Community Violence and Community Policing) and link to various federal agencies – SAMSHA, CDC, Dept. of Justice, etc.)