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October 2017

Things to Consider in October 2017

A Community Approach to Trauma Sensitivity by Janie Crecco, MA, MSEd

On November 14, 2017, the Recruitment, Training and Support Center (RTSC) at the Federation for Children with Special Needs will present their 6th Annual Making a Difference Conference for Special Education Surrogate Parents, Foster, Kinship and Adoptive parents, and the wonderful professionals that serve them both through the child welfare system and in the community. We have chosen a theme that is both topical and long-standing – “A Community Approach to Trauma-Sensitivity.” 

While the idea of trauma-sensitivity has evolved within the last decade or so, a community approach to education, health, parenting (“it takes a village”) and other social issues has been around a long, long time.

 

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Death to the Behavior Chart! 3 Reasons to Resist the Lure of Punishments and Rewards
This article offers great advice from a seasoned teacher: “I don’t have a color chart like you had in kindergarten. A few years ago, my students told me that when they had to change their color, it made them feel sad and embarrassed. I don’t want you to feel sad and embarrassed in my class. I want you to feel happy. So you still have to follow the rules, but if you do something wrong, I’ll just give you a look, like this.” (I demonstrate my best teacher glare, and they giggle.) “Or I’ll look for a student sitting near you who is doing the right thing, and I’ll tell them they’re doing a good job—that’s a clue to look and see what you should be doing. If that doesn’t work, you and I will need to have a conversation, but just the two of us will talk about it—you won’t get in trouble in front of the whole class.” Link here to learn more about changing up behaviors (by both students and teachers) in the classroom: How Ending Behavior Rewards Helped One School Focus on Student Motivation and Character.


Strong Friendships in Adolescence May Benefit Mental Health in the Long Run
This article discusses new scientific evidence demonstrating that adolescents who put close friendships first at the age of 15 tended to have lower social anxiety, a higher sense of self-worth, and fewer depressive symptoms by the age of 25, compared with their counterparts who did not prioritize such friendships. Also see a brief written by the Center on Children and Families at: Care and Connections — Bridging Relational Gaps for Foster Youths.


Remembering Trauma: Connecting the Dots between Complex Trauma and Misdiagnosis in Youth
Part 1 of this short film (16 minutes) highlights the story of a traumatized youth from early childhood to older adolescence, illustrating his trauma reactions and interactions with various service providers (including probation officer, school counselor, and therapist). Part 2 incorporates scenes from Part 1, with poignant commentary from real world professionals who work across child-serving settings, including school, juvenile justice and mental health.


Portraits of Change: Aligning School and Community Resources to Reduce Chronic Absence
This study from Attendance Works and the Everyone Graduates Center at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education indicates that high chronic absence level in a school often is an indicator of systemic barriers present in the community (such as lack of access to healthcare, environmental hazards, poor transportation, community violence or unstable housing) or barriers within the school (such as a negative climate and problematic disciplinary practices). It can also indicate barriers due to race and disability biases, including a lack of an engaging curriculum, supplies and materials needed to adapt instruction and support students with disabilities. Inspiring examples found throughout the country demonstrate that chronic absence can be turned around, even when it reaches high levels in a school or district or among a particular student population. What works is taking a data-driven, comprehensive approach that begins with engaging students, families and community partners.


Five Things to Know about Parental Depression
Based on a seminal study completed by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine 10 years ago, Child Trends defines some correlates between parental depression and child well-being, stating that not enough research has been done on the subject. They offer some suggestions to help improve outcomes of children growing up in households where parental depression is a concern.


Liar, Liar: Looking Beyond the Lie
From the ACEs Connections Blog: “If my brain has developed in a way that makes it wired to believe that lying is essential for my survival, then why, when I am removed from that situation wouldn’t I just stop? Simple, my brain hasn’t developed new pathways, and my brain hasn’t decided that you are a safe person. Somewhere in the child welfare system, we have decided that a child should just “know” that when they are removed they are safe. But when I ask adults around the country how long it would take for them to feel comfortable if they went to live at a stranger’s house, the room usually goes silent. Trust doesn’t just happen, and new pathways in the brain have to be configured to overcome the previous trauma.”


Three Questions for the ‘Program Kid’
This interview of Thomas Stewart, a member of Youth MOVE Massachusetts by Lisa Lambert, director of PPAL, is a first-person accounting of three questions he has been asked many times: “Why don’t you like doing the things you once loved?”, “Why do you shut down over seemingly basic things?”, and “Why does the GPS say 30 minutes but it takes you 45”? Read his compelling answers. 


Signs of Reactive Attachment Disorder and Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder at Age 12 Years: Effects of Institutional Care History and High-Quality Foster Care
This clinical article, written by well-know researchers and authors in the Boston area, examines signs of reactive attachment disorder and disinhibited social engagement disorder at age 12 years in 111 children who were abandoned at or shortly after birth and subsequently randomized to care as usual or to high-quality foster care, as well as in 50 comparison children who were never institutionalized. Consistent with expectations, those who experienced institutional care in early life had more signs of reactive attachment disorder and disinhibited social engagement disorder at age 12 years than children never institutionalized. Analyses within the ever institutionalized group revealed no effects of the age of placement into foster care, but number of caregiving disruptions experienced and the percentage of the child’s life spent in institutional care were significant predictors of signs of attachment disorders assessed in early adolescence.


95 Percent of Homeless Youth Who Experienced Sex Trafficking Say They Were Maltreated as Children
Highlighting the enormity of the problem, this article details the results of the largest study of its kind to date. For victims of sex trafficking, 63 percent reported involvement with the child welfare system and a staggering 95 percent reported a history of child abuse and/or neglect. The largest number (49 percent) had been sexually abused as children, followed by 33 percent experiencing physical abuse. More than half reported that the maltreatment began when they were 5 years of age or younger, and all but a few described the onset of maltreatment as age 10 or younger. Forty one percent reported having been removed from their family of origin and placed in out-of-home care by the child welfare system. One out of four described 10 or more different placements, and several said that they lived in too many places to count.


Live in a Poor Neighborhood? Better Be a Perfect Parent
This controversial article, which first appeared in the New York Times, follows the struggles of a parent named Eline, whom the author states “did not need parenting classes; she already loved and cared for her children. She needed a home that wasn’t infested with rats. The city should have helped her find one. She needed support to care for her son’s medical needs, as well as her own. The city should have provided her with a visiting nurse service. And it should have given her the financial assistance that went to the foster parents. The trauma of this approach cannot be underestimated: studies show that foster care, even for short periods of time, can carry risks to children and diminish outcomes.”


School Mornings without the Stress
The author offers many good suggestions for any child who is showing school avoidance, including those in congregate care.


Milwaukee Advances Tiny Homes Plan for Young Adults Leaving Foster Care
A win-win idea for everyone! The project would provide job training opportunities for residents in trades like carpentry, plumbing and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning work. Students could also be involved in designing and building the homes.


Useful Tools and Resources


Child Well-Being and Adverse Childhood Experiences in the US
This special issue of Academic Pediatrics includes over 100 articles on the subject and is free for download. It also contains new national research with inspiring commentaries from a wide range of leaders.

Resource List — ACE Surveys
The lists includes the original ACE study, adapted surveys, and expanded surveys.

Children’s Medical Center at UMass Memorial Center
This website includes many helpful links and services offered by the Child Protection Program (CPP) at the UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center in Worcester, MA.

Massachusetts’s Children 2017
This document offers bulleted statistics on abuse and neglect, adoption and kinship care, child poverty and income support, the child welfare workforce as well as other areas of interest.


Featured Article Continued… 

On November 14, 2017, the Recruitment, Training and Support Center (RTSC) at the Federation for Children with Special Needs will present their 6th Annual Making a Difference Conference for Special Education Surrogate Parents, Foster, Kinship and Adoptive parents, and the wonderful professionals that serve them both through the child welfare system and in the community. We have chosen a theme that is both topical and long-standing – “A Community Approach to Trauma-Sensitivity.” 

While the idea of trauma-sensitivity has evolved within the last decade or so, a community approach to education, health, parenting (“it takes a village”) and other social issues has been around a long, long time. John Dewey, Jane Addams, and urban planner Clarence Perry, all advocated for schools that served as the center of neighborhood social life, partnering with neighborhood-based social services, and also educating children. The Industrial Age of the early 20th century was not dissimilar from our own Age of Information and Technology (sometimes referred to as the Third Industrial Age), as social reformers both in the early 1900s and today seek ways to improve the lives — of newly arrived urban residents, families living in impoverished inner cities or rural areas, and struggling new immigrants — through community-based education and development. 

In the 1930’s, Charles Manley and Charles Stewart Mott, ironically from Flint, Michigan, developed programs to serve the children and working parents of Flint in vacant school buildings in the evenings. Their model is still used today, with credos such as:

  • Use of community resources in the schooling/education curriculum
  • Opportunities for parents to become involved in the learning process of their children and the life of the school
  • Partnerships with business, industry, and schools; Everyone shares responsibility for educating all members of the community

The movement lost steam when federal funding was pulled in 1981. 

In the early 2000’s, interest in the community school idea was somewhat revitalized. But after the Great Recession, with a dwindling amount of funding for education at both the local, state and federal levels, the idea is sounding better and better. 

With a growing rate of children attending public schools with elevated Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and burgeoning mental health crises for students and faculty throughout the country, community schools don’t just make sense – but may just be the answer to many issues challenging schools today. Here is the modern definition of a well-developed full-service community school:

“A community school, operating in a public school building, is open to students, families, and the community before, during, and after school, seven days a week, all year long. It is operated jointly through a partnership between the school system and one or more community agencies…. To achieve their desired results, most community schools over time consciously link activities in the following areas: quality education; positive youth development; family support; family and community engagement in decision making; and community development.”[1]

In October, we will present a Webinar on “Tipping the Scales,” presented by Joan Wasser Gish, the Director of Strategic Initiatives, Center for Optimized Student Support at the Lynch School of Education, Boston College. She will explain how scientific evidence shows that when students receive comprehensive supports and opportunities that are integrated alongside academic instruction, they can thrive academically, closing achievement gaps and reducing dropout rates, regardless of socio-economic status.

At our 6th Annual Making a Difference Conference, many experts in the fields of both community partnerships and trauma-informed schools, will present nine workshops (plus keynotes) addressing these systemic issues.  

Please join us for both events. To register for either, event please visit our website at www.fcsn.org/rtsc.

[1] Coalition for Community Schools. (n.d.). Community schools: Partnerships for excellence. [Program brochure]. Institute for Educational Leadership: Washington, DC.

*Disclaimer: While every effort is made to ensure that the contents of Consider This… is accurate, the Federation for Children with Special Needs makes no representations or warranties in relation to the accuracy or completeness of the information found within the enclosed articles. The contents within this transmission are provided in good faith, and nothing included in it should be taken to constitute or imply professional advice, an endorsement or a formal recommendation.