California pediatricians will begin screening children for traumatic experiences beginning Jan. 1, 2020. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s surgeon general, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, is considered an authority on how childhood trauma can adversely affect brain development, EdSource reports.
The California state legislature allocated $45 million to reimburse doctors for screening MediCal patients for trauma and another $50 million to train doctors in how to conduct the screenings.
The results will help identify those who may need mental health counseling or other preventative treatments in order to avoid long-term health effects. According to the research, early childhood trauma may be linked to cancer, heart disease, diabetes and depression.
These screenings come as welcome news to educators, many of whom have watched traumatized students struggle in class. Schools are also providing training for teachers to recognize trauma. Embedding schools with teachers trained to work with students with adverse childhood experiences adds an extra layer of support. Abuse, neglect, hunger and fear are barriers that must be addressed before students can focus on learning.
Many schools provide other wraparound services that address the whole child, from housing vouchers that allow students to stay in a neighborhood school to on-site community service coordinators.
Districts are also becoming community hubs for a range of supportive services. For example, the Houston Independent School District is launching a whole-child program that will add 300 staff members to focus on easing hunger, homelessness and deportation fears.
And in the Los Angeles Unified School District, a new immigration legal clinic has opened in the RFK Community Schools, in partnership with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law and the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.