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Kentucky coalition focuses on trauma-informed education when schools return

Gov. Beshear released guidelines for Kentucky schools wanting to return to in-person learning in January.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — A statewide coalition formed amid the pandemic wants Kentucky schools and communities to focus on trauma-informed education and care for students.

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky is leading the effort joined by more than 20 organizations, promoting policies that recognize how different childhood events will impact a child's physical, social and emotional health.

Alison Adams with the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky said the pandemic has placed unprecedented levels of trauma and stress on children and families. When children do return to in-person learning, Adams said educators will need new strategies.

"You know we used to ask the question, 'What's wrong with you?' And we really want our adults who are interacting with our children to change the mindset and say, 'What happened to you?' as you're trying understand where the child is coming from, so that we can meet the child where they are," Adams said.

The coalition said data from America's Health Rankings show more than 25% of children in the state have experienced two or more adverse events like domestic violence, physical or sexual abuse and more in 2017 and 2019.

Adams said with society putting more on education, the coalition would be able to mobilize advocacy efforts to help support them.

"As we're asking and putting more and more on education, on teachers and superintendents and principals in our schools, we have to also be willing to support them," she said. "We can't just keep asking them to do things and not provide the funding, the policy change."

More information about the coalition can be found at kentuckyhealthychildren.org.

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