Number of states with policies on trauma-informed care training in schools has tripled since 2017

February 25, 2021

The number of states with policies encouraging or requiring schools to provide professional development on trauma-informed care increased from 9 to 30 from September 2017 to September 2019, according to a new analysis of school health policies from Child Trends, the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois-Chicago and EMT Associates, Inc. In addition to professional development for trauma-informed care, policies supporting professional development for mental health and school resource officers saw the biggest change from 2017 to 2019 among the 200 topics examined: 33 states now have policies supporting professional development for mental health (up 18 from 2017) and 35 states have policies supporting professional development for school resource officers (up 16 from 2017).

“Building healthy, trauma-informed schools is critical as the country faces the challenge of helping children cope with the social and emotional tolls of COVID-19,” said Deborah Temkin, a school health expert and lead author of the policy analysis. “Our analysis shows that states are making important strides toward making schools safer, more supportive learning environments for staff and children. These strides are important because they mean many states are well positioned to address the challenges of returning to school and ensuring kids return to a healthy learning environment.”

The analysis is a companion to the newly updated National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) State Policy Database on School Health, which captures state statutes, regulations, and noncodified policies related to 200 school climate, health, and safety topics. The database also features an interactive Tableau dashboard, allowing users to quickly generate maps of which states address key school health topics. First developed in 1998, the database has long been a trusted tool for policymakers, researchers, advocates, and school communities to access state-level school health policy information in one convenient location.

“With the unprecedented disruption of COVID-19 comes an opportunity to rethink how we deliver on the promises of equity and excellence for every child. The database is an important resource for state leaders looking for innovative ways to support student and staff well-being during and after COVID-19,” said Robert Hull, NASBE president and CEO. “As they continue providing remote services and make plans for safe reopening of schools, policymakers can use the database to make meaningful and lasting systemic change that draws schools and communities closer together.”

In addition to previously included topics, the updated database covers policies combating the use of e-cigarettes on school campuses (adopted by 36 states), policies explicitly discouraging or prohibiting discussion of LGBTQ-related topics during sex education courses (which exist in 6 states), and policies encouraging (7 states) or requiring (12 states) the administration of school climate surveys to assess conditions for learning.