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New Orleans Trauma-Informed Schools Learning Collaborative

Starting in 2013, the New Orleans Health Department assembled a number of community agencies to provide crisis response and clinical services to schools following student-involved violence and other public facing traumatic events.  We quickly realized that our work was necessary, but not sufficient to promote healing and resilience.  If students were leaving services and going back to classrooms where they didn’t feel safe or where they were facing discipline policies that only sought to punish rather than provide opportunities for growth or change—what were we doing?

In the Spring of 2015, we coalesced as the New Orleans Trauma-Informed Schools Learning Collaborative.  The is a multi-agency collaboration with representatives from The New Orleans Health Department, Children’s Bureau of New Orleans, The Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies, Louisiana Public Health Institute, Mercy Family Center’s Project Fleur-de-lis, NOLA Public Schools and Tulane University.  We put a call out to all New Orleans public schools to find partners for the collaborative.  We built the collaborative with 5 schools during the 2015-16 school year and received our first funding for the work through the Department of Justice and United Way.

The following year, we received funding from the National Institute of Justice to rigorously test whether the strategies we were using helped schools move forward with trauma-informed practices.  That project, Safe Schools NOLA, allowed us to expand the work of the collaborative to 6 additional schools over 4 years (2016-2020).  In doing that work, we also realized our next challenge.  We built a model that relied on the training of teachers and leaders in the school—but many of those teachers and leaders leave, which threatens the integrity of the work. 

The current iteration of our work aims to build capacity not just in the schools, but in the organizations that run them, so they have the tools they need to initiate and sustain the work themselves.  With support from the Department of Justice, United Way of Southeast Louisiana, and Baptist Community Ministries, we have developed the Training of Trainers in Trauma-Informed Schools.  Participating schools and charter networks send staff to become certified in the implementation model we’ve developed to create trauma-informed schools.  Those staff then spend a school year implementing the model with our support to become certified in implementation.  And then they teach a new cohort of school and network staff how to do this work to complete their certification as a Trainer for Trauma-Informed Schools.  And so on and so on, we hope.

 

A Group of New Orleans Trauma-Informed Learning Collaborative Members