A little over two years ago, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law “The Safe and Supportive Schools Framework.” This statute creates the conditions for schools to become safe and supportive by establishing a statewide framework that incorporates trauma sensitivity. The law, signed August 13, 2014, also established the Safe and Supportive Schools Commission to provide the legislature and the state with recommendations on how best to ensure that all schools have the time and capacity to create trauma-sensitive safe and supportive learning environments. The law gave momentum to the state’s trauma-sensitive schools movement, already considered a national leader.
The budget, signed by current Governor Charlie Baker in July, includes $400,000 to support a full-time staff member in the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to carry out provisions in the law. As reported on the website of the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative (TLPI), the budget language “provides for continuation of the Safe and Supportive Schools grant program as well as statewide and regional conferences, expert technological assistance in upgrading the usability of the online self-assessment tool and an evaluation of the grant program.”Susan Cole, director of TLPI and co-chair of the Massachusetts Safe and Supportive Schools Commission, said that the trauma-sensitive schools movement continues to grow across the country. One of the indications is that 100 TLPI publications are downloaded daily from the TLPI website. Hawaii, Wisconsin and Kansas are just a few of the states joining the trauma-sensitive or trauma-informed schools movement, according to Cole.
Cole said the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is presently inviting the state’s schools and districts to apply for Safe and Supportive Schools grants. In addition, five demonstration schools that are using TLPI’s inquiry based process to become trauma-sensitive are underway in the state. She had high praise for the recent work of Laura Porter, Kimberly Martin and Robert Anda, authors of Self-Healing Communities, saying it provides an umbrella or “cradles” the principles underlying the whole school community, where all children are safe and supported in every part of the building. She emphasized the importance of “setting conditions for the school community to flourish” to remove barriers rather than mandating requirements.
For additional information and resources (from a variety of states and organizations) compiled by TLPI, click here.