WASHINGTON – Today, as part of National Mental Health Awareness Month Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) introduced the Supporting Trauma-Informed Education Practices Act to bolster trauma support services and mental health care for children in schools. The bill authorizes grant opportunities to improve how schools address the complex needs of students coping with the devastating impact of COVID-19 and other adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) such as parental addiction, abuse, and witnessing violence.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of students are not yet completely understood, however they are expected to have long-term consequences for social and emotional well-being. In 2020, three million teenagers reported having serious thoughts of suicide bringing to light how dire the mental health crisis has become. Additionally, the surging opioid crisis has affected more than two million children and adolescents in the United States, tearing apart many families across Connecticut’s Fifth District.

“As students continue to heal from the most traumatizing interruption to their education, they need strong, reliable, and accessible support services. Too often, adverse childhood experiences go unidentified and untreated allowing them to worsen over time resulting in learning loss and prolonged mental illness,” said Congresswoman Hayes. “Trauma extends beyond the impact and no person, especially a child, should ever have to carry that weight alone.”

The Supporting Trauma-Informed Education Practices Act would:

  • Develop or improve prevention, screening, referral, and treatment and support services to students;
  • Implement schoolwide positive behavioral interventions and supports, or other trauma-informed models of support;
  • Provide professional development to teachers, teacher assistants, school leaders, specialized instructional support personnel, and mental health professionals; and
  • Engage with families and communities to increase awareness of child and youth trauma.

The bill has been endorsed by the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy & Practice and the American Federation of Teachers.

"Trauma-informed practices in schools have been shown to decrease expulsions, suspensions, staff turnover, and behavioral referrals while increasing school-wide fulfillment and school completion," said Jesse Kohler, executive director of the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice. "Trauma-informed schools are powerful environments that can prevent the worst effects of trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences. We are grateful to Congresswoman Hayes for introducing this legislation to meet the deeper needs of students, as well as teachers, staff, and administrators tasked with supporting young people during this youth mental health crisis. Specifically, the Local Interagency Agreements will have a profoundly positive impact on children and communities, decreasing health disparities, justice involvement, violence, and more."

"Far too many children and adolescents are struggling with social isolation, depression or going through the trauma of having lost a loved one, be it to COVID, gun violence or other trauma. AFT’s educators and school staff have seen the mental health challenges our students face and now more than ever, our kids need dedicated support, which is often only accessible at school. I thank Rep. Hayes for introducing the Supporting Trauma-Informed Education Practices Act, which will fund critical interventions for students, professional development for educators and school staff and resources for parents," said Randi Weingarten, President of AFT.


Congresswoman Jahana Hayes sits on the Committees on Education & Labor and Agriculture and proudly represents Connecticut’s 5th District. She was a public school teacher in Connecticut for more than 15 years and was recognized in 2016 as the National Teacher of the Year.