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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: June 10, 2022 11:01 AM
From: Representative Napoleon J. Nelson
To: All House members
Subject: Establishing School Trauma Records

While we may disagree on many things, one thing that we broadly do agree to is the impact traumatic events have on our young people. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), events that negatively influence the development of a child, impact over two-thirds of all school-aged children, leaving behind in its wake trauma that may go unnoticed until it grows into negative behaviors such as social withdrawal, violent outbursts, or worse.
Our Commonwealth has taken some steps to respond to this crisis by offering grants for school districts to implement trauma-informed approaches to learning, but we must go further if we are to truly help our youth. I plan to introduce legislation that will establish notification systems amongst school districts and county agencies that will alert a school to a traumatic event. In so doing, schools may have greater opportunities to receive funding under the School Safety and Security Grant Program, thereby increasing services and supports to schools and students.
This approach, developed in consultation with Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services (DHS) and Department of Education, would help to call out ACEs within a school district while balancing the confidentiality of the family, the needs of the students, and the ability to engage in the school’s multiple systems of support. Such actions afford our school districts to be better able to work alongside our DHS and law enforcement partners to meet the mental health needs of our young people.
Our investments in trauma-informed education are being blunted because too many of our human service and law enforcement agencies do not have the adequate legal authority to inform our educators of trauma. By enabling county agencies and schools to engage in information-sharing exercises as outlined in this legislation, we can lessen the impact of ACEs throughout the state. Please join me in co-sponsoring this much-needed legislation.

Introduced as HB2301