Trauma-informed schools

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
  • This strategy can help address educational disparities, promote healthy childhood environments, and prevent violence. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve these outcomes are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program basics

  • School-wide reform that seeks to change culture into a learning environment that is safer, more supportive, and more trauma-informed
  • Programs generally include training for school staff to ensure they have the information and skills needed to assist children who have experienced trauma
  • Generally include revisions to disciplinary policy, social-emotional instruction, and culturally adapted curriculum about trauma
  • Often include parent education and engagement and community partnerships to support students

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Strong (second-highest tier)

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Strong (second-highest tier)

Ranked as having the second-highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps


Target population

All school-aged children

Program cost

Not available

Implementation locations

  • Nationwide

Dates active

Not available

Outcomes and impact

  • Trauma-informed programs may result in a decrease in behavioral issues among students
  • Studies show that interventions can ease and decrease trauma-related symptoms in students
  • Some evidence that trauma-informed schools increase understanding of trauma and frequency of trauma-informed practice use among school staff
  • School-wide interventions may improve student resilience, coping skills, ability to pay attention in class, and attendance
  • Interventions are associated with improved graduation rates, academic achievement, classroom behavior, and student safety

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Foster strong relationships between school staff and mental health professionals.
  • Establish clear commitments to changing school culture.
  • Introduce trauma-informed practices carefully and with sensitivity to the school’s culture to build teacher buy-in.
  • Expand the role of school counselors to support successful school-wide implementation.
  • Provide information and training to all levels of staff in order to help them recognize trauma-related behaviors and understand how to best assist students.
  • When possible, engage parents and caregivers with the trauma-informed policies and communicate any changes or improvements in the student’s behavioral patterns with their parent or caretaker.

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