Crittenton Services’ President and CEO, Kathy Szafran, served as an expert panelist at the "Trauma-Informed Approaches in School: Supporting Girls of Color and Rethinking Discipline” Conference held at the White House yesterday, Monday, September 19, 2016. The conference was hosted by the White House Council on Women and Girls, together with the U.S. Department of Education, the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, and the National Crittenton Foundation.
The conference built upon the Administration’s commitment to promoting policies and practices that support the needs and potential of underserved populations, including marginalized girls, young women and their families. Despite progress made over the recent years in academic achievement, access and school support, girls, and particularly girls of color, continue to disproportionately face barriers in education.
Szafran was a member of the “Exploring Trauma-Informed Approaches to Supporting Girls of Color” panel – a group of experts Rebecca Epstein, Executive Director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality, referred to as the “Dream Team” who could help “connect the dots between trauma and school discipline.”
Szafran addressed the unique challenges that rural communities face to provide trauma-informed care in comparison with urban areas. She explained, “When you’re from rural areas there are very, very limited resources. We’re looking at crisis for young girls who have no commonality, no shared cultures. When they come into residential treatment, they feel very much alone, and when trying to create an environment for them to return back to and have a community to embrace them, frequently, it doesn’t exist.”
Szafran also spoke about Crittenton’s Trauma-Informed Elementary Schools (TIES) Program and implementing trauma-informed approaches in school. The TIES Program brings trauma-informed services to early elementary school classes, grades Pre-K through grade 1. The goal of the program is to bring early intervention to children who exhibit symptoms of chronic stress, or trauma, in the classroom—symptoms that interfere with the child’s ability to learn, such as disruptive, defensive, or withdrawn behavior. Szafran said, “Our therapists are training teachers how to observe and indicate trigger behaviors – behaviors that are indicative that a child is being affected by trauma in their home environments. The responsibility is then to help teach the teacher ways of self-help regulation within the classroom and become a bridge between the home and the school. That’s what we feel is most critical.” Szafran went on to explain that it’s a truly generational process for many children whose parents have also had very similar traumatic experiences. The TIES program is currently in its second year and has expanded into eleven WV elementary schools in Hancock, Tyler, Ohio and Wood counties.
You may also view the panel discussion at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cro37ByMECo. Kathy Szafran’s panel discussion begins at the 3 hour 24 minute mark. Szafran speaks about the challenges to trauma-informed care that rural communities face at the 3 hour 38 minute 27 second mark. She also speaks about implementing trauma-informed approaches in school at the 3 hour, 59 minute, 15 second mark.