Trauma-Informed Care and Support | The Latest News | November 2021


SRI Education News | November  2021

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Trauma-Informed Care and Support

Students supporting each other

SRI Education researchers investigate schoolwide, classroom, group-based, and individualized programs from preK through post-secondary that support children and educators who experience trauma and promote the use of evidence-based and effective strategies through dissemination and technical assistance.

Students who have witnessed or experienced traumatic events such as abuse, poverty, loss of a loved one, or family/community violence or substance use, are at an increased risk for developing behavioral, social-emotional, and academic difficulties. These students often report depression, anxiety, and even somatic symptoms that can be extremely disruptive to their school life. Trauma-informed programs integrate knowledge about trauma and its impacts with skill and resiliency-building so that students can address and manage their trauma-related symptoms in and out of school.

Below is information about recent research findings and newly developed resources for state and local educators to help them foster the emotional health and well-being of students and staff.

Events and Related Resources

Trauma Summit logo and virtual summit announcement

In August 2021, the Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia (REL AP) at SRI Education and the Cross-State Collaborative to Support Schools in the Opioid Crisis hosted a 2-day Virtual Summit: How to Support Students and Educators Dealing with Trauma. This summit was for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers who support preK-12 educators and students experiencing trauma. Resources compiled for the summit are available online at this website:

Earlier in 2020 and 2021, REL Appalachia (REL AP) staff held a total of three webinars, in which they shared research, resources, and strategies to support students and educators in the context of trauma.

  • Module 1: Impacts and symptoms of trauma and relevant strategies to support students. REL AP staff shared research and resources to build participants’ knowledge of the impacts and symptoms of trauma, as well as relevant strategies to support students who exhibit such symptoms.
  • Module 2: Implementation of Practices and Strategies to Support Students and Educators. REL AP staff shared concrete classroom and school-based practices to support students and educators in the context of trauma, including strategies to address implementation barriers.

Technical Assistance to Support Trauma-Informed Programs

Isolated child watching others play

Handle With Care 2.0 (HWC 2.0) Implementation Supports and Trauma-Sensitive Training

Since late 2018, SRI Education staff have provided technical assistance (TA) to the developers and implementers of the Handle With Care (HWC) program. HWC brings community law enforcement and first responder organizations together with schools to support students experiencing trauma. The West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice (WVCCJ), housed at the West Virginia State Police, founded HWC in 2013 because they saw a need for more collaboration between law enforcement and schools. Now, schools in more than 30 states have adopted the freely available program and its popularity continues to grow. Over the course of the last three years and via multiple funding streams, SRI partnered with WVCCJ and the West Virginia Department of Education to develop materials to support school teams to monitor program implementation and student outcomes, to create training for all school staff on supporting students experiencing trauma, and to offer light support to local agencies to coordinate and collaborate to improve support for the community’s children and youth. The totality of SRI’s work spans 3 federally-funded projects and includes an evaluation, which is explained below; SRI’s TA support for HWC began under REL Appalachia and continues under a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Within the next month, we anticipate the release of a portfolio of materials, including two Excel workbooks and an accompanying guide that explains a continuous improvement approach to monitoring implementation and student outcomes data. You can learn more about the program by visiting the website:

Research on Trauma-Informed Programs

Stressed  student

Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS)

SRI researchers, in partnership with the University of California at Los Angeles and Stanford University, conducted a study of the efficacy of the Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) program in a diverse Northern California school district. The project was funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Special Education Research in the Institute of Education Sciences. The CBITS program is a school-based intervention for middle school and high school students who experience acute or chronic trauma; they may have witnessed or been the victim of community or school violence, accidents or injuries, physical abuse or domestic violence, or natural or man-made disasters. It is designed to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and behavioral problems and to improve functioning, grades and attendance, peer and parent support, and coping skills.

Findings: Overall, students who received CBITS reported significantly reduced post-traumatic stress symptoms and marginally significant improvements in internalizing symptoms. Relative to counterparts in the comparison group, students exhibiting externalizing behaviors in the CBITS group reported significantly reduced post-traumatic stress, dissociation, anger, internalizing and total behavior problems, and also significantly improved scores on a standardized literacy assessment at posttest and follow-up. Students with internalizing behavior problems showed differential academic effects at 1-year follow-up; those in CBITS did significantly better on standardized math tests.

Publications: Sumi, W. C., Woodbridge, M. W., Wei, X., Thornton, S. P., & Roundfield, K. D. (2021). Measuring the impact of trauma-focused, cognitive behavioral group therapy with middle school students. School Mental Health, 1–15. doi: 10.1007/s12310-021-09452-8

Students walking to school

Bounce Back in Project SECURE

Project SECURE is a multitiered approach to improve socioemotional skills, reduce bullying, and address trauma and stress for elementary school students developed and implemented in a local urban school district in Northern California. In Tier 1, all teachers in participating schools deliver Second Step, an evidence-based social-emotional learning curriculum, weekly with students in their classrooms. In Tier 2, students who have elevated traumatic stress can participate in Bounce Back, a targeted group-based intervention delivered by school social workers to reduce the symptoms of trauma (e.g., stress, anxiety) and build coping skills. In Tier 3, the Citywide Student Assistance Program (SAP) team, a multidisciplinary group of representatives from the school district and department of public health, connects high-risk students and their families to appropriate school-based and community services as needed.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, SRI Education has conducted a 4-year randomized controlled trial in partnership a local Northern California school district. The objective was to evaluate the efficacy of Second Step and Bounce Back in 36 elementary schools in the district. SRI collected school climate surveys completed by teachers, parents, and students; surveyed students and parents to measure students’ emotional and social functioning; and compiled information on students’ academic and behavioral outcomes from school records. SRI researchers are currently analyzing these data to assess the extent to which Second Step and Bounce Back improve students’ academic and behavioral outcomes, with final results expected in early 2022.

Findings: Preliminary findings from the study of Bounce Back indicate that students who received the Bounce Back intervention reported significantly reduced symptoms of anxiety than students in the comparison group. Interestingly, the results were not differentiated by the delivery of Second Step; in other words, there was no “added effect” for students in schools implementing Second Step. These significant reductions in emotional problems are consistent with previous Bounce Back research (Langley et al., 2015; Santiago et al., 2018). Publications are forthcoming.

The study presented here is supported by the National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice, through Grant 2016-CK-BX-0002. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Justice.

Handle With Care logo

Evaluation of Handle with Care 2.0 in West Virginia

SRI researchers are conducting an evaluation of the Handle with Care (HWC) 2.0 program to examine the implementation and outcomes of HWC 2.0 in six schools in West Virginia. The evaluation will compare school, staff, and student outcomes in these HWC 2.0 intervention schools to other schools in West Virginia that are similar but do not implement HWC 2.0 supports. The implementation study will evaluate the extent to which local first responder organizations and school personnel implement the HWC 2.0 program as intended. SRI researchers will share  the information learned from the implementation study with program developers and technical assistance providers to inform program improvements and the supports that are provided to schools. In the outcomes study, researchers will gather information on the impact of the program by comparing treatment and comparison sites on a range of school (e.g., school climate), staff (e.g., knowledge and self-efficacy in how to support students experiencing trauma), and student-level outcomes (e.g., student attendance, behavior, and achievement).

Stay Up To Date: The Student Behavior Blog

Student Behavior Blog Logo

The SRI Student Behavior Research Team has created the Student Behavior Blog website to provide the latest information about evidence-based approaches to support all students’ positive behavior, mental health, and well-being—and to support the parents and educators serving students. Our blog posts focus on district-, school-, classroom-, and student-based interventions and impacts, including informal tips, interviews, and findings from our own research and evaluation projects, as well as perspectives from our partners on the ground. We also discuss various relevant and recent “hot topic” issues in education to bring you fresh information in a direct and digestible way. Blog posts and resources related specifically to the topic of trauma can be found here:


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