spokesman review

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. 

Highlights from the 2015 White House Conference on Aging

President Obama delivers remarks at the White House Conference on Aging.  July 13, 2015.  Courtesy of the White House YouTube channel.

In case you missed yesterday’s Boomer U article in the Spokesman Review, it gave a great overview of the discussion at the 2015 White House Conference on Aging in Washington DC last week.  As the article explains, our partners at Aging and Long Term Care of Eastern Washington (ALTCEW) came together with Area Agencies on Aging from across the state to generate recommendations for the conference, which took place last Monday, July 13.  This conference, which has occurred every 10 years since the 1960s, has had a key role in shaping U.S. policy on aging for the past 50 years.  Priorities presented at this year’s conference included ensuring retirement security, providing long-term services and supports, supporting healthy aging, and protecting elders from abuse and neglect.  According to ALTCEW executive director Lynn Kimball, while these priorities were consistent with the Washington state recommendations, “it is really up to each state and community to prioritize what needs to happen for healthy aging to occur.”  We could not agree more, which is why we are working with partners like ALTCEW through our Rural Aging Services Initiative to help seniors gain access to needed supports that allow them to live full meaningful lives with independence and dignity in their homes and communities of choice.  One of our favorite quotes from the article came from Washington State Council on Aging member Phillip Lemley:

The biggest thing that caught my ear was that we must change the prospect of aging from fear to optimism.

Check out the full article here, or download below.

As part of our Rural Aging Services Initiative, we are currently working with ALTCEW to expand supports for caregivers in Whitman County.  Stay tuned for more on this partnership as we work together to better serve rural seniors in our region.