school district

Trauma Informed Care Cuts Out-of-School Suspension Rates

“I always hate blaming a school because they can’t help who walks through the door,” Fred Schrumpf, Director of Community Partnerships for Spokane Public Schools, recently told the Spokesman Review in a front page article on new approaches to student discipline. Alarmed by Spokane’s high dropout rate, which floated around 30% five years ago, Schrumpf and others began looking at alternative approaches to student discipline.

Empire Health Foundation partnered with Schrumpf and Rogers High School to educate teachers in trauma-informed curriculum. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), such as abuse or neglect are the second greatest predictor after special education status of health outcomes, behavior and academic failure. If we fail to equip teachers with the tools and education they need to understand how a student’s trauma is likely the root cause of their emotional and behavioral needs, the toxic stress presents a huge barrier to these young folk’s academic success.

Teachers at "Help for Billy” book study

Teachers at "Help for Billy” book study

Through the partnership, Rogers staff has been exposed to a series of professional development opportunities including training by Sound Discipline, Circle of Security and a 6-week “Help for Billy” book study led by Schrumpf among other interventions. As one teacher said, "I really learned strategies to work with the students in my class and how to help them regulate." In the 2015 – 2016 academic school year, Rogers saw a 42% decrease in out-of-school suspension, and the overall rate of disciplinary incidents dropped by 32%. "This work is very much needed at this time in education,” said another teacher, “I love it. Can we have more of this training?"

Projects like these and others led by Spokane Public Schools helped to nearly halve the dropout rate to 15.5% in 2015, but Spokane’s discipline rate was also the highest in the state that year with near 8% of students suspended or expelled. There is much more work to be done. Transforming our region into the best place for young people to learn starts in nurturing healthy homes as well as schools. Our subsidiaries Rising Strong and FIN are working to reduce ACEs upstream by keeping families united, and Empire Health Foundation remains committed to mitigating the effects of complex trauma in our community. 

Addressing Trauma in Eastern Washington

I think that if parents understood the incredible negative impacts of ACEs, it potentially could modify their actions with a child.
— Antony Chiang, President, Empire Health Foundation

Our work to prevent and mitigate Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, in Eastern Washington has given us many opportunities to contribute to the conversation about trauma in our region, the latest of which can be found in the Inlander's story detailing Spokane Regional Health District's work to develop a trauma toolkit for use in Spokane schools.  

Check out the full article on their website or download a PDF below:


Highlights from First Lady Inslee's Visit on Oct. 21, 2015

Update:  Check out First Lady Inslee's Facebook post about her visit to Garfield Elementary!

First Lady Inslee and Spokane Public Schools Director of Nutrition Services Doug Wordell at Garfield Elementary.

First Lady Inslee and Spokane Public Schools Director of Nutrition Services Doug Wordell at Garfield Elementary.

First Lady Trudi Inslee came to Spokane on October 21st as part of Washington Nonprofits' Community Impact Project.  Empire Health Foundation was honored to host Mrs. Inslee and showcase how two of Governor Inslee's signature health initiatives -- Healthiest Next Generation and Healthier Washington -- are being implemented locally.

Mrs. Inslee started the day at Garfield Elementary in Spokane Public Schools where she learned about Spokane Public Schools' effort to bring scratch cooking to eight of its elementary schools.  At Garfield, Mrs. Inslee heard about how this launch built off of success in the Cheney School District under the leadership of their Superintendent Dr. Deb Clemens.  Mrs. Inslee enjoyed a delicious meal with a smart and inquisitive group of sixth graders.  A huge thanks to Garfield and Spokane Public Schools for hosting the First Lady.

In the afternoon, Mrs. Inslee joined with leaders of community nonprofits at the Philanthropy Center to discuss Eastern Washington's multi-sector efforts to achieve the Triple Aim of better health, better care at lower costs.  A particular highlight was hearing from Better Health Together Community Health Worker Georgie Tarrant about her tireless work to connect chronically homeless and medical fragile members of our community to housing and other needed services.  


Thanks to Washington Nonprofits for your leadership in this effort and Mrs. Inslee for coming to Spokane!

USDA proposes healthier food recommendations for adult and child day cares

We were excited to find this article in the Washington Post detailing a step in the right direction for federally funded meal programs in adult and child day cares working toward healthier kitchens.  The USDA has proposed changes to nutritional requirements for the Child and Adult Care Food Program, including eliminating reimbursements for grain-based desserts like cookies and cake, and no longer offering juice to children under 1 year of age.  Nationwide, this program serves nearly 4 million people per year, so it is crucial that this system incentivizes day cares to provide healthy, wholesome food.  According to one expert, "food choices people make in early childhood are the building blocks for the healthy habits of their lifetime,” which is why we have chosen to partner with school districts in our region convert to healthy scratch cooking as part of our obesity prevention work.

The USDA was also attentive to the need for these changes to be financially sustainable, proposing "requirements that wouldn't boost costs since providers won't be paid more."  Sustainability is also a lynchpin of our work -- in fact, Cheney School District, our first obesity prevention partner, was able to achieve net positive financial results within the first two years of the scratch cooking program, making this a truly sustainable systems change!

You can download the entire Washington Post article here:

Sustainably moving the needle on Obesity

In 2011 we partnered with Cheney and Othello School Districts to launch our first initiative to reduce childhood obesity rates.  The first two years showed both a decline in the percentage of overweight/obese students and an increase in revenue for the school districts' nutrition services.  A sustainable switch to healthy scratch cooking and a variety of calorie-out strategies have continued to move the needle toward a healthier Eastern Washington!

Building on the success of our first three years of the obesity prevention program, we partnered with Spokane Public Schools starting in 2014, bringing the number of scratch-cooked meals in our 10 partner school districts to over 3 million per year!