Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $994,679)
In response to rising levels of student trauma, stress, behavioral issues, and violence, Hamilton County Schools (HCS) proposes PIERCE (Proactively Increasing protective factors through an Equitable, Restorative, and Collaborative approach to Ending school violence), a holistic, equitable, and collaborative approach to increase protective factors, reduce and prevent incidents of school violence, and improve district crisis response through training.
The PIERCE project will benefit students in all schools across HCS by equipping interdisciplinary school support staff with the skills to increase protective factors and promote a trauma-informed, culturally competent response to student behavior. Student protective factors such as positive coping mechanisms, problem-solving, emotion regulation, and other social-emotional skills aid in the prevention of violence. By developing a trauma-informed, equitable, culturally competent approach to addressing problematic student behavior, the project will decrease racial inequalities in disciplinary responses and increase protective factors for students in marginalized groups. The project will also respond to trauma and mental health challenges impacted by poverty and other factors. The project is designed to impact all forms of violence on school grounds but will have specific impact on the types of interpersonal violence we are seeing most often including mutual fighting, assault, disruptions on campus, and bullying. The project will also have a significant positive impact on students’ mental and behavioral health, which directly influences interpersonal conflicts and all other types of violence.
HCS has devised a comprehensive approach to violence reduction and prevention training for school-based safety and behavioral health staff, designed to: increase awareness of the impact of trauma and recognize behavioral health warning signs; prepare school-based staff for responding to crisis situations in a cohesive and collaborative manner; improve school climate by increasing student protective factors; and promote positive interactions among students, teachers, and other school-based staff. The project will increase collaboration and cohesiveness among school-based safety and behavioral health staff including Student Safety Officers (SSOs), School Counselors, School Social Workers, SEAD (Social Emotional and Academic Development) Facilitators, and Integrated Student Supports. The goal of the project is to establish a shared vision and strategy for reducing and responding to school violence by providing cross departmental training in trauma-informed, culturally competent, equitable violence reduction and response tactics.