Day: March 22, 2021

Chicago Public Schools To Invest $24 Million In Student Trauma And Mental Health Programs – Block Club Chicago

This article ran on March 22, 2021 in Block Club Chicago  by Yana Kunichoff for Chalkbeat Chicago.

CPS plans to spend the money across three years to expand the number of behavioral support teams from 200 schools to closer to 500 and enlist more help from community groups through grants.

HERMOSA — At North-Grand High School in Chicago’s Hermosa neighborhood, a team of school counselors, case managers and a social worker make up the behavioral health team charged with supporting students with low attendance, discipline issues or trouble at home. 

In a couple of years, every Chicago school could have a team just like it. That’s the goal of a new district initiative to train school staff in trauma-informed student support practices. 

Monday’s announcement of a $24 million mental health plan offers a first look at how Chicago plans to spend some of the $1.8 billion in federal stimulus funds coming its way. Officials plan to spend the money across three years to expand the number of behavioral support teams from 200 schools to closer to 500 and enlist more help from community groups through grants.

At the center of that work is a recognized need for a culturally relevant and trauma-supported approach to helping Chicago students. What it won’t do, however, is bring in new staff, instead training support workers and educators already in school buildings. 

That work has only become more urgent since the pandemic, the district’s No. 2, LaTanya McDade, said. “We want every single school to be able to coordinate wellness support for our students,” she said. That should come from “the individuals that are already in the building, people who students already know and trust.” 

From the pressure of living in poverty to street violence and the foreclosure crisis that tore through many of Chicago’s communities, many students in Chicago Public Schools were handling a lot before the pandemic. Now, one year into the COVID-19 crisis that has left Black and Latino communities with higher rates of illness and death, students are facing anxiety, grief and even deeper economic uncertainty. Thousands of students have disengaged from school altogether

Chicago Public Schools has deployed a series of programs over the years to support its students in addressing those issues, from the 2013 creation of its Office of Social and Emotional Learning to the growth of restorative justice programs and paid summer school programs. The 2019 collective bargaining agreement between the district and teachers union also included a commitment to have one full-time nurse and social worker in each school by 2023. 

Still, what those supports look like on the ground can change school-by-school. Brooks College Prep on Chicago’s Far South Side has nearly 1,000 students and four counselors to cover both mental health and career counseling. At a ratio of 1 counselor to 250 students, the odds of students getting help appears better than at a school that shares a mental health specialist with another campus, but, students say, still not enough to get an appointment when they need one. 

Under the program, students might not have to wait to see a counselor. A discipline dean who is part of a school’s behavioral support team might notice that a student hasn’t been attending classes or is acting out, and reach out to them. They may also direct them to a community partner, which McDade said she hopes all schools can develop, to provide extra help outside the classroom. 

The program is modeled on “care teams” started by Liz Dozier, founder of Chicago Beyond, a nonprofit organization, that works with community leaders and invests in organizing projects related to young people in Chicago. Dozier previously served as principal of Fenger High School on Chicago’s South Side. A Fenger student, Derrion Albert, was killed during a fight among students in 2009, and the event — captured on a cell phone video — brought worldwide attention to the issue of youth violence.

By bringing together different staff to focus on students who were struggling with family issues or attendance, Dozier said she was able to create a web of supports for her students, many of whom were struggling with a range of problems, from neighborhood violence to poverty. “You could see at an individual level that things had begun to shift,” said Dozier. “You see a child showing up to school… and just living a whole and free life.” 

Chicago has not yet laid out specific plans for spending its additional federal stimulus funds. District leaders have said they will soon roll out an “unfinished learning” plan that will include efforts to re-engage students who have spotty attendance or who have fallen out of communication entirely with schools.

CPS Announces $24M Plan to Address Student Trauma, Mental Health – WTTW

This article was published on WTTW on March 22, 2021 by reporter Matt Masterson.

Chicago Public Schools officials have announced a new $24 million plan to expand behavioral health services and address student trauma. The three-year initiative will be funded, in part, by the $1.8 billion CPS received in federal stimulus dollars.

The school district on Monday released a new “Healing-Centered Framework,” which it said is a first-of-its-kind effort that aims to expand behavioral health teams to every CPS school and offer trainings to existing staffers on how to address students’ trauma, anger and depression.

“I feel like our district is ready and prepared to support our students, and I just want to thank all of you for being partners in this work to help us achieve all of our goals,” CPS CEO Janice Jackson said during a livestreamed announcement Monday morning. “Our goal is to be a healthy and safe district for all of our students, where they feel strong and they feel able to meet all of their full potential.”

CPS said it has already spent $1 million to expand existing trainings on a trauma-engaged curriculum. But the district is now committing to spend $8 million per year over the next three years with that money coming from grants, philanthropic donations and federal COVID-19 stimulus relief.

Beyond the additional support teams, those funds will also be used to add social-emotional learning or mental health supports through community partnerships; provide professional development opportunities for staff; and compile resources and supports for staff wellness.

The district said Monday’s announcement came as part of a partnership with the Children First Fund and Chicago Beyond, which invests in community organizations and research opportunities.

“As a former CPS principal, I’ve witnessed how traumatic experiences can disrupt a young person’s academic performance, personal relationships, and future opportunities in life,” Chicago Beyond Founder and CEO Liz Dozier said in a statement. “I’ve also seen how investing in healing can yield incredible results. Yes, increases in academic performance and attendance, but healing also allows kids to be kids and to feel empowered to show up in ways that are true and authentic to themselves. It’s been our privilege to help CPS articulate this bold vision for healing so that all CPS students can reach their full potential.” 

Chicago Public Schools announces ‘healing-centered’ plan to address trauma – ABC7

This segment was televised by ABC7 News on March 22, 2021 by general assignment reporter Michelle Gallardo.

CHICAGO (WLS) — Monday morning Chicago Public Schools announced a multi-year partnership to create a “healing-centered framework” multi-year plan to address trauma from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press conference, CPS officials acknowledged the trauma school-aged children have experienced over the last year, and said the new framework will help them cope.

Beyond just the COVID pandemic, in the past 12 months Chicago’s students have also had to confront gun violence and civil unrest, as well as economic instability and insecurity. These myriad challenges outside the classroom can often impede learning inside.

“At its core, trauma is an equity issue,” said CPS CEO Janice Jackson. “We’ve seen throughout this pandemic how students who live in our underrepresented communities have been disproportionately impacted, not only by this terrible disease, COVID-19, but the impact of closures, lack of resources, etc.”

Calling it a “healing-centered vision,” designed with both students and staff in mind, the framework was built taking into account feedback from hundreds of teachers, parents and students, some of whom spoke about their needs Monday morning, starting at a very basic level.

“To me, healing is about being surrounded by the people who care and love me,” said Cheyanne Ligutan, Lake Tech High School student.

The plan is being done in partnership with Chicago Beyond and the Children First Fund, and funded by a $24 million investment over the next three years.

The plan outlines five steps, including an evaluation into whether the existing physical environment inside each and every school promotes that very wellness and belonging.

“Holistic healing is as much about the culture and climate of a school, it’s about investing in the support to empower and strengthen our children, and the adults that serve them,” said Liz Dozier of Chicago Beyond.

CPS said through this framework it is committing to, in the next three years: Expanding behavior health teams to all CPS schools with targeted support to reach students most affected; having at least one staff member in every building trained in group intervention to support students coping with trauma, anger and depression, among other mental health needs; expanding the number of schools with at least one community partner to provide support for social-emotional learning or mental health; curating professional development opportunities for staff; developing resources for families and caregivers; building a comprehensive set of resources for staff wellness; and establishing a network of community partners to support each school’s needs.

The steps spoken about Monday represent a five-year vision for the district, which also committed to reevaluating the way CPS supports students and staff following traumatic events.

Chicago Public Schools Begins 3-Year Outreach Program To Address Trauma After COVID-19 Pandemic – CBS

This segment aired on CBS 2 on March 22, 2021 by the CBS 2 reporting staff.

There is no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has been traumatic for Chicago Public Schools students and staff. Monday a $24 million, three year outreach program hopes to help the healing begin.

“We were not able to forecast some of the needs that are the result of COVID-19, but now I feel strongly that the district is poised to address the many needs that I know our students will need served as they return back to school,” said Dr. Janice Jackson, CEO of Chicago Public Schools.

They call it a “healing centered framework.” It includes expanding behavioral health teams to all CPS schools; having at least one staff member in every building trained to support students on topics like trauma, anger and depression; and increasing the number of schools that turn to community partners for mental health support.

Chicago Public Schools Releases ‘Healing-Centered Framework’ a Multi-Year Plan to Address Trauma

Today, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), in partnership with Chicago Beyond and the Children First Fund: the Chicago Public Schools Foundation, announced a first-of-its-kind, multi-year effort to build upon the district’s foundation of supports through the ‘Healing-Centered Framework,’ a transformative roadmap and collection of resources for CPS to proactively and responsively meet the wellness needs of each individual student. The effort, which is funded by a $24 million investment over the next three years, will ensure every school has a behavioral health team and a trusted adult in the building to support students, and more. The initiative is centered around comprehensive and holistic healing and has been shaped by ideas and feedback from hundreds of teachers, staff, students, administrators, CPS families, and community partners. The Framework focuses not only on the wellness of students but on the wellness of the adults like school staff, families, and caregivers that support them.

“Fundamental to our commitment to educate the whole child is a focus on our students’ social and emotional wellbeing,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “Trauma is a debilitating force that can derail a student’s focus, and as educators we need to ensure our students feel entirely supported both in and out of the classroom. Now more than ever, we are committed to the mental and emotional wellbeing of our students and I’m proud to be able to expand our already robust SEL supports for every CPS student.”

Click the links below to read the Chalkbeat article or visit CPS website to learn more about the Healing Centered Framework. To watch the full live of CPS welcome launch click here.