Trauma-informed schools

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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