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Supporting Schools in Implementing Trauma-Informed Approaches

Launch date: June 2012 End date: N/A

In 2012, the New Orleans Health Department worked with New Orleans’ schools to create a process that links schools with counseling and victim assistance resources following a student-involved homicide. The Health Department has coordinated responses to 48 student-involved homicides and other traumatic events involving public school students, ensuring that schools have the critical resources that they need to respond to students’ grief and trauma. 

Building on this, the Health Department, in partnership with local experts in trauma, launched a learning collaborative in 2015 to support schools in implementing trauma-informed approaches. This collaborative effort is providing assistance for five schools to become trauma-sensitive schools — aware of the prevalence of trauma and capable of responding to traumatized students’ unique needs.

Why part of murder reduction strategy

Exposure to violence is damaging to youths’ growth and development and increases the likelihood for involvement in violence later in life. Schools can play an important role in providing aid to students who are experiencing psychological trauma, thereby preventing future violence.

Risk/protective factors addressed: High emotional distress; exposure to violence; commitment to school; deficits in social cognitive or information-processing abilities

Performance indicators and results

Initiative partners

  • Trauma Faculty: Project Fleur-de-Lis, Tulane University Department of Psychology, Children’s Bureau of New Orleans, The Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies (IWES), Strategies for Youth Development, Louisiana Public Health Institute, Metropolitan Human Services District
  • Participating Schools: G.W. Carver Preparatory Academy, KIPP Believe Primary School, Lawrence D. Crocker College Prep, Success Preparatory Academy, New Orleans Charter Math and Science High School, KIPP Renaissance High School
  • Funder: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention as part of the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention

Amanda Aiken – Senior Director of Schools, New Orleans College Prep (Former Principal, Lawrence D. Crocker College Prep)

As part of the Supporting Schools in Trauma-Informed Approaches initiative, the Health Department and NOLA FOR LIFE have supported us by providing financial resources and technical support, spearheading this work, organizing the collaborative, and supporting us in applying for more funding to continue the work. We are starting to realize that significant numbers of our youth have been exposed to trauma, often as a result of witnessing violence. The trauma-informed approaches work allows the schools involved to provide practices and services to scholars that will start to help the healing process. Also we know that violence in cyclical. Trauma-informed approaches help victims of violence address stress, trauma, and other social emotional issues to prevent the reoccurrence, or retaliation that often stems from witnessing violence or being a victim of violence. 

This work has really expanded our social emotional support to not only scholars but also to families, thus stabilizing the family unit. In addition, the trauma-informed approaches really challenged some of our discipline practices and have pushed us to continue to make changes to reduce suspensions and expulsions. We were formally introduced to restorative approaches through the trauma-informed collaborative and this has significantly reduced the occurrence of ongoing fights at our school.

NOLA FOR LIFE is an incredibly innovative strategy that addresses violence and violence reduction through a dynamic and multi-leveled approach.

Download the PDF report