Resilient Lehigh Valley is committed to increasing awareness surrounding trauma-informed care in schools. After securing a PCCD grant (PA Commission on Crime & Delinquency) in 2019, we sought to establish a sustainable community of trauma informed care trainers here in the Lehigh Valley, and contracted with Lakeside Global Institute to provide this in depth train the trainer experience. We invited members from several organizations to participate in this in depth trauma informed care training course in hopes of spreading trauma-informed care practices to schools, youth organizations and other helping professions throughout the Lehigh Valley. As the relationship has grown, in 2022, members of the Resilient Lehigh Valley Training Informed Care Training Cohort from Lehigh Carbon Intermediate Unit 21 have taken what they’ve learned and applied it to their organization’s practices.
Lehigh Carbon CLIU staff members Dr. Lisa Shumacher, assistant director of special programs and services, and Michael Heater, coordinator of curriculum, were among those who participated in the Lakeside Training program. Throughout their training, they realized the importance of trauma-informed care in schools and decided for all CLIU staff to participate in a virtual trauma-informed care training course during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Now, yearly basic trauma-informed care training is a CLIU staff training requirement. In addition, staff sub-groups participate in more extensive training, including members from different departments and trailered training sessions to meet specific subsets of staff based on their occupational objectives.
To help those in other youth-based organizations learn and utilize trauma-informed care practices, Dr. Shumacher and Mr. Heater, alongside other CLIU Resiliency Teachers, took what they learned with Lakeside to propose the development of a virtual trauma-informed training course for site facilitators and educators across Pennsylvania. The CLIU team worked alongside Resilient Lehigh Valley and Vicky M. Wilkins from Allentown Senator Patrick Browne’s office to facilitate meetings with local representatives and Senator Browne about the importance of trauma-informed practices. Through these conversations, Wilkins secured funding from the Safe Schools Healthy Students grant to develop a free, online trauma-informed care course, Empowering Schools to Become Trauma Informed.
Based on the most up-to-date research on trauma-informed care, the seven-module self-paced course includes video lessons followed by corresponding independent activities. The series is intended to train in-house facilitators on providing high-quality professional development training to their staff to help them understand trauma, its impact, and how to address trauma-affected behaviors in an academic setting. To become certified as a school site facilitator, participants must complete the first five modules of the course. While the final two modules are optional, they contain “bonus” material that helps deepen the facilitator’s understanding of the course content. Since its release, the program has seen significant success, with educators state-wide signing up and completing the course, increasing awareness and usage of trauma-informed practices in you-based organizations and schools throughout Pennsylvania.
“It is because of our work with Resilient Lehigh Valley and our collaboration with so many cross-sector agencies represented by Resilient Lehigh Valley that we increasingly know and are committed to our work of creating a more trauma-informed and resilient CLIU. Because we serve our districts, we have the potential to continue to build on the Resilient Lehigh Valley mission of creating a more trauma-informed and resilient Lehigh Valley and beyond,” said Dr. Shumacher.
The CLIU is committed to training their served districts and communities and developing trauma-informed training for students and staff who work with trauma-affected students.