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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative: Locally Grown, Nationally Known

A Collaboration by Harvard Law School
and Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC)

November 23, 2013

The Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative (TLPI) is a nationally recognized collaboration between Harvard Law School and Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC), whose mission is to ensure that children impacted by family violence and other adverse experiences succeed in school.

To achieve this mission, TLPI uses multiple strategies to seek remedies for individual children, as well as laws and policies that provide schools with the knowledge and resources they need to meet the needs of all children.

TLPI’s advocacy is based on interdisciplinary research and collaboration across a wide array of professional disciplines: education, psychology, neurobiology, medicine, social work, and public policy.

The TLPI was founded and is directed by Susan Cole, a lecturer at Harvard Law School who also heads up their Education Law Clinic. On a pro bono basis, the clinic provides representation and mentorship to parents/guardians whose children have been affected by family violence or other adverse experiences and who are not getting the special education services they need.

She is assisted by Assistant Clinical Professor of Law Michael Gregory, whose teaching focuses on children and the law, as well as educational policy and reform.

The TLPI has released two excellent books:

Helping Traumatized Children Learn – Volume 1: A Report and Policy Agenda

Published in 2005, TLPI’s landmark report summarizes the research from psychology and neurobiology that documents the impact trauma from exposure to violence can have on children’s learning, behavior and relationships in school.

The report also introduces the Flexible Framework, a tool organized according to six core operational functions of schools that can help any school create a trauma sensitive learning environment for all children.

You can purchase a bound copy HERE, or join the more than 50,000 who have downloaded it for free as a PDF file HERE.

Helping Traumatized Children Learn - Volume 2: Creating and Advocating for Trauma-Sensitive Schools

Just out, Volume 2 of Helping Traumatized Children Learn: Creating and Advocating for Trauma-Sensitive Schools, offers a Guide to a process for creating trauma-sensitive schools-- safe, supportive learning environments that benefit all children--and a policy agenda to provide the support schools need to achieve this goal. Grounded in theory and practice in schools and with families, the Guide is intended to be a living document that will grow and change as more schools become trauma sensitive and add their ideas.

The policy agenda calls for changes in laws, policies, and funding streams to support schools in this work. Together, the online learning community and the book are designed to complement each other, helping to build a growing and increasingly visible trauma-sensitive learning community.

You can purchase a bound copy HERE, or download it free as a PDF file HERE.

Helping Traumatized Children Learn has been called, “a major milestone in child advocacy. Based on evidence from brain research, child development, and actual classrooms, here is a road map for parents, schools, administrators, and policy makers that shows concrete and feasible steps for making schools the life raft for children who otherwise may be misunderstood and abandoned by the community.”

We highly recommend both, to parents and professionals alike!

TLPI recently launched a new website, Trauma Sensitive Schools, where there is a wealth of information about the impacts of trauma and children, along with resources to help educators address and remedy them. The group was also prominently featured in a November 13, 2013 New York Times article, "Schools That Separate the Child from the Trauma," which describes the dramatic effects embrace of its recommendations has had in the Brockton, MA public schools.

NESCA is proud to support and indeed, to actively participate in the work of the TLPI, and to provide pro bono services through Massachusetts Advocates for Children.

NESCA's Role

NESCA Director Dr. Ann Helmus and Senior Neuropsychologist Dr. Stephanie Monaghan-Blout continue to serve on TLPI’s Working Committee and were involved in the formulation of Volume 1 of “Helping Traumatized Children Learn,” to which they contributed a article on "Trauma Sensitive Neuropsychological Evaluations." Both continue to work through Massachusetts Advocates for Children and the TLPI with children who have been traumatized.

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