The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) would like to continue to build their capacity to provide educators with tools, resources, and training needed to understand trauma and support students with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) that these educators work with in their schools and classrooms. WVDE requested the Region 5 Comprehensive Center (R5CC) team's support in helping the state achieve this goal.
Research has shown the extensive impact that childhood trauma has on individuals throughout their lifespan. Oral et al. (2016) defines trauma as negatively perceived situations that are outside of one's control, which impact both physical and psychological aspects of the body and which can lead to an array of negative outcomes, including alcoholism, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, smoking, and illicit drug use. The 2016 National Survey of Children's Health found that 52.4 percent of children under age 18 in WV have had at least one ACE, compared to the national average of 46.3 percent. This initiative aligns with West Virginia's American Rescue Plan (ARP) goal of Supporting Students and Educators Social, Emotional, and Mental Health Needs.
Approach to Capacity-Building Services
This initiative builds upon efforts underway in West Virginia to support student well-being by focusing on cross-agency collaboration to deliver high-quality, relevant, and useful resources to LEAs, students, and families. The R5CC team continues its co-facilitation of a statewide collaborative of mental health agencies, institutes of higher education, and other educational organizations working to build awareness of mental health professional shortages, to identify effective recruiting strategies into the field, and to promote best practices in schools. The R5CC team also continues to strengthen WVDE's capacity to address the mental health crisis in WV schools through the implementation of a Networked Improvement Community, comprise of Department champions and county school systems, to achieve school-level design and implementation for all domains of WV’s Tiered Systems of Support (WVTSS), with particular emphasis on behavior and mental health. R5CC also assists the Department with the alignment of learning resources with school counselor and school psychologist policies and practices.