Welcome to the NCS3!
We are excited and humbled to launch our National Center for Safe Supportive Schools (NCS3), a Category II Center of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN).
The NCS3 reflects a partnership between the National Center for School Mental Health (NCSMH) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the NCTSN Center for Trauma Care in Schools (CTCS), and the Center for Childhood Resilience (CCR). We are a team of national and regional leaders with collective expertise in comprehensive school mental health systems, cultural responsiveness and equity, and trauma-responsive schools.
Our team has been working in partnership with the NCTSN for many years and has witnessed the tremendous work of the Network to prevent and address trauma exposure in children and families. The NCS3 is committed to further engaging schools in fostering safety and support for all students, including those who have been impacted by adversity and trauma.
We identified three challenges to address over the next five years:
Trauma-informed schools (TIS) efforts are often disconnected from existing state and district efforts to implement comprehensive school mental health (SMH) systems. TIS implementation regularly lacks integration and alignment with district-level multi-tiered systems of supports (MTSS). Consequently, schools utilize a school-level, piecemeal approach to training, characterized by “one shot” trainings on trauma awareness or single interventions with limited attention to education system implementation factors required for success.
TIS approaches often lack guidance and tools to effectively attend to social determinants and injustices that lead to health disparities and to engage and support specific marginalized populations, including youth of color and newcomer (refugee and immigrant) youth.
Pre-service educator and mental health provider training lacks TIS content and reflects a siloed approach to trauma and school mental health, limiting the possibility of future system change.
I am so grateful to have the wisdom of our NCSMH, CCR, and CTCS teams, and our two primary consultants, Drs. Joyce Dorado and Michael Lindsay, the entire NCTSN, and the broader field and community to engage in addressing these complex challenges.
We plan to work together to achieve the following goals:
Build state, district, and school capacity to implement culturally responsive, trauma-informed policies and practices into comprehensive school mental health systems nationwide.
Support training and implementation of school-based trauma interventions that attend to social determinants and injustices and engage and support specific marginalized populations, including Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and newcomer (refugee and immigrant) youth.
Integrate TIS into pre-service educator and mental health provider preparation.
We are committed to approaching this work with transparency, humility, and a collaborative stance. We hope to learn, heal, and grow with all of you as we strive to create safe supportive schools for all.