- Transforming Rural Experience in Education (TREE) will include counseling for students and training for teachers so they can better respond to mental health needs among students.
- The project is based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research on how adverse childhood experiences, such as abuse, neglect and exposure to violence, can affect brain development, language skills, anxiety, and physical and mental health problems that carry on into adulthood.
According to the CDC, there were over 700,000 confirmed cases of child abuse in 2014. Children who experience abuse are at a higher risk for substance use, to be arrested as juveniles and to have low academic achievement.
The increase in trauma-informed and trauma-sensitive approaches in schools and training for teachers has been a response to growing knowledge from the scienctific community on how trauma affects learning and the brain.
According to the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative at Harvard University, trauma affects students’ academic success because it makes them feel disconnected from the school community. Their experts prefer the term "trauma-sensitive" because it emphasizes “that educators are not expected to take on the role of therapists,” they write. It also helps emphasize that, while behavioral health services will be an important part of the effort, helping traumatized children learn at school requires more — it also requires a school-wide culture that helps children feel safe and supported in all parts of the school.”