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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. 

EHF partner Rogers High School is moving the needle on graduation rates

Image courtesy Colleen Kirsten/Spokesman Review

Image courtesy Colleen Kirsten/Spokesman Review

Our friends at the Spokesman Review released a great story on how our partner Rogers High School is working to increase graduation rates.  In addition to moving to trauma-informed practices both inside and outside the classroom, Rogers has implemented multi-prong strategies to reduce truancy and offer alternative supports to struggling students.  Rogers goes beyond the classroom by partnering with local organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of Spokane.  In combination with Ferris, North Central, Lewis and Clark, and Shadle Park High Schools, Spokane Public Schools boasts a higher graduation rate than the state average!

Read the full article from the Spokesman to learn more about these exciting results!

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!