Innovative partnership helps educators recognize and address the impact of pandemic trauma

February 14, 2022

The South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) and Children’s Trust of South Carolina today announced a partnership to help schools recognize and address the impacts of the pandemic on the mental health of children. Utilizing a train the trainer model, every school district is now eligible to send representatives to a nationally established training on adverse childhood experiences, also known as ACEs.

“The pandemic has had a profound effect on children and their physical and mental health. We know the negative, long-term effects of trauma and stress, especially the impact it can have on a child’s developing brain,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “The ACEs training offered through Children’s Trust will better equip our state’s educators to build resilience in their schools and classrooms.”

Children’s Trust will be providing the training in various locations throughout the state. The training, called Understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences from ACE Interface, Inc., is nationally recognized as a powerful curriculum that helps individuals understand and recognize adverse childhood experiences. Several South Carolina school districts have already completed this training including Greenville, Oconee, Lexington One, and Richland Two.

“The intent is that these trainers will take the knowledge back to their schools and districts, training even more teachers and administrators, building exponentially the number of people who understand toxic stress, how to recognize it, address it and repair it,” said Sue Williams, CEO of Children’s Trust. This project will grow the number of ACE trainers in South Carolina from 200 to 900.

Children’s Trust has been training ACE trainers using ACE Interface and leading the South Carolina Adverse Childhood Experience Initiative since 2015. ACEs are traumatic events that occur in a child’s life prior to the age of 18. This adversity can harm a child’s brain and its development, which can result in long-term negative health and social outcomes. ACEs include emotional, physical and sexual abuse; domestic violence; substance use and mental illness of someone in the household; being separated from parents, including incarceration and divorce; food insecurity; and homelessness.

“We want to shift a mindset from asking ‘what is wrong with you’ to ‘what has happened to you,’” continued Williams. “We are excited to be working with SCDE on this initiative. If we work to address that adversity and toxic stress for children and their teachers, we can help both be healthier by building those essential resilience skills.”

The $265,075 in funding is being provided from the SCDE through the American Rescue Plan Act’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.

Interested participants can find the upcoming training events listed on the Children’s Trust event page. Individual schools or districts that are interested in learning more about the ACE Train-the-Trainer opportunity should contact Michael Shirley, director of community and workforce development, at 803-744-4039 or [email protected]