U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Trauma-Informed Approaches to Improve School Safety

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $2,662,969)

Schools across the country are rushing to scale up implementation of trauma-informed approaches as a way to create physically and psychologically safe environments for all students. However, no controlled studies have demonstrated the impact of trauma-informed care as a way to improve school
safety. The purpose of the proposed project is to determine whether a multi-component implementation strategy including professional development in trauma-informed care, on-site coaching in the use of trauma-informed strategies, and technical assistance for system-wide adoption of trauma-informed approaches improves school safety by aligning staff attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors with a trauma-informed approach. Results will generate practical knowledge to guide the future implementation of trauma-informed approaches and enhance their impact on school safety. The multi-component implementation strategy will be evaluated using a multiple baseline experimental design with outcome data from 6 urban K-8th grade schools over a 4-year period during which the schools will be randomly assigned to begin receiving the intervention in different years. The experimental design will allow us to determine changes in outcomes after implementing the intervention in: a) teacher attitudes toward trauma-informed approaches; b) teacher use of explicit trauma-informed strategies for student engagement and classroom management; d) teacher perceptions of system-level support for the intervention; and e) organizational capacity to implement trauma-informed approaches. Analyses will also determine whether the intervention impacts school safety, as indicated by: a) reductions in student aggression, victimization, school disciplinary referrals, suspensions, and expulsions and b) increases in perceptions of school safety and positive school climate. The findings of the project will provide some of the first rigorous data on the best ways to develop, support, and understand the impact of trauma-informed approaches on school safety. Information gained will facilitate the timely, cost-efficient, and effective adoption and implementation of trauma-informed approaches by schools. Findings will be disseminated through the preparation of manuscripts for submission to scientific journals, presentations at practice-oriented conferences, dissemination to the public, and completion of a final report. Data will be archived for future project replication.

This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.


Date Created: September 30, 2015