Implementing Trauma Interventions in Schools

Addressing the Immigrant and Refugee Experience

In 2007, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation launched a three-year program, Caring Across Communities (CAC), aimed at bringing school-connected mental health services to children of immigrants and refugees. Fifteen sites piloted innovative school-based approaches that addressed the mental health needs of children, youth, and their families.

This book chapter examines the successes and barriers associated with CAC interventions in four cities: Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Boston. The CAC interventions in the Los Angeles Unified School District, in Minneapolis Public Schools, in Chicago Public Schools, and in Boston Public Schools were specifically focused on school-based, trauma-focused, evidence-based strategies.

Key Findings:

  • Programs created were consistent with community priorities, cultural norms, and values to decrease stigma related to mental health care.
  • Cultural adaptation and parent engagement were important strategies to cultivate.
  • Collaboration between school and community was an essential component in building transparent, respectful partnerships.
  • Significant training time is required to ensure cultural sensitivity among all participants; this can prove challenging.

Assessing CAC provides important information to schools and communities about how best to support and engage immigrant and refugee families in treatment.