For Immediate Release | Thursday, September 7, 2017
Contact: Maggie Meyers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-263-9826
WA Charters and Seneca Family of Agency Receive Funding through King County’s Best Starts for Kids Initiative
Seattle – The Washington State Charter Schools Association (WA Charters) announced today that charter public school students will benefit from $20,000 of grant funding through King County’s Best Starts for Kids program, which launched two new initiatives Wednesday to help schools and their partners better address the impacts of trauma, and promote resilience so that children and youth can bounce back after experiencing adversity.
WA Charters is one among 98 partners across 14 school districts to receive grants totaling $1.46 million that will fund tools and training to support children and young people through experiences of childhood trauma and adversity, and expand mental-health support across middle schools in King County.
“We are helping teachers, staff, and students transform local schools so that children and young people can thrive even if they have experienced trauma,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “The partnerships we are creating with Best Starts for Kids help ensure students get the support they need wherever they are in the community.”
WA Charters, a statewide nonprofit organization that advocates for and supports the development of high-quality charter public schools in Washington, was awarded $10,000 to support its work supporting trauma-informed and restorative practices in King County’s five charter public schools: Excel Public Charter School (Kent), Rainier Prep (Highline), Summit Atlas (West Seattle), Summit Sierra (Seattle), and Green Dot Rainier Valley Leadership Academy (Southeast Seattle).
Seneca Family of Agencies also received a $10,000 award as part of Best Starts’ trauma-informed and restorative practices initiative to fund its work supporting students in King County’s five charter schools. Seneca, a nonprofit mental health agency with the bold and innovative mission to provide Unconditional Care to help children and families through the most difficult times in their lives, has been in Washington state in 2013, supporting charter schools, other public schools, and districts with a range of technical assistance supports, including development of individualized models and services that meet students’ unique needs.
“We are very pleased to see this meaningful investment in King County children and youth who deserve to have every resource available to them as they recover from trauma, including many children who attend charter public schools,” said WA Charters CEO Patrick D’Amelio. “We laud King County for its bold efforts to take a systemic approach to supporting students who have experienced trauma by improving the school environments they depend on to heal, learn, and grow.”
About Best Starts for Kids Trauma-Informed and Restorative Practice Initiative
Best Starts for Kids’ awards for trauma-informed and restorative practices will help create and strengthen environments that support children and youth who have experienced trauma or adversity and build resilience in all children. The goal is to create what are referred to as trauma-informed schools, where the faculty, staff, and students have the skills and tools needed to create environments where children facing unpredictable, ongoing stress or trauma in their lives feel safe. These environments build resilience so that all students are better able to bounce back when facing adversity. The approach extends beyond classrooms to include partner organizations, such as early-learning providers and parent groups, so students get the support they need wherever they are in the community.
It will also create and expand effective restorative justice programs that empower students and teachers to resolve conflict by collaborating rather than through traditional discipline, such as detention or suspension.
One example of a successful program that will be expanded is Seattle Public School’s Cleveland High School, which has reduced discipline referrals by teachers by 75 percent and decreased racial disproportionality in the disciplinary system. The high school will use the Best Starts for Kids funding to train 10 additional teachers and 10 students to lead restorative justice circles when conflicts arise, making the school’s effective approach to conflict resolution more sustainable.