Effective state policies
State legislators have passed laws across the country to support students’ academic, physical, social and emotional well-being. Yet, very little information was available about how a whole child model was reflected in state education policy.
Child Trends, with the help of its partners – University of Illinois at Chicago, EMT Associates, and The Raben Group – examined each section of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model to identify every state’s policy levers to implement it.
Educators and community-based organizations looking to support the development of healthy schools can use this first-of-its-kind research about policies in their state to support their work. State policies vary considerably, but there is a broad consensus in current policy that schools have a role in supporting student health.
A companion report focused on how public school districts and charter local education agencies across 20 strategically selected states address healthy schools through the WSCC model. This report identifies which topics have momentum at the state and district level, as well as what opportunities exist to better align and integrate school health policies.
Child Trends also worked with the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) to develop an interactive database of state laws focused on more than 200 different topics related to key areas of school health.
Child Trends conducted a series of interviews and focus groups with state policymakers, educators, and students to understand their perspectives on the WSCC model. All three groups identified mental health and school climate as clear leverage points in need of additional policy attention to provide the foundation for achieving healthier schools more broadly.
To help state officials create supportive learning environments that meet the needs of students with a history of traumatic experiences and ensure that all students succeed in school, Child Trends developed a trauma-informed policy framework to create supportive learning environments.