Trauma Support for Kids During Covid-19

Photo: Kat Jayne

Our children are already seeing trauma effects from the COVID-19 crisis. This is in addition to the trauma they experience throughout the year like gun violence, crime, and food and housing insecurities. We must support our students and families not only now, but also once they are back in school with practical, trauma-informed care.

It’s great that students at the highest performing schools in our region like Kenner Discovery, Hynes, and the NOMMA are getting counseling support in this difficult time. The reality is that every student across our city needs and deserves this support. The disruption, uncertainty, and trauma we are all experiencing through COVID-19 is affecting all children in our neighborhoods and schools.

Trauma changes the brain. When a child experiences trauma, their brain is flooded with stress hormones to keep them safe. For example, if you walk-up on an alligator, your body will take over and the stress hormones in your brain will signal you to either fight the alligator, run from it, or play dead. This normal function of our brain over-develops in children who experience chronic trauma or a major traumatic event. Under this stress, children have limited access to the part of their brain that helps them learn. Families across the nation are likely seeing this struggle first hand while trying to transition into homeschool learning. Fight, flight, and freeze can look like more tantrums at home, avoidance of normal activities like being afraid to play outside even when safe, or spacing out even when doing what seems like simple tasks.

I applaud the efforts of the counselors, working to ensure the kids in their care are supported. However, NOLA Public Schools and the Orleans Parish School Board must consolidate resources, require every charter to provide this assistance and ensure every child has access to this trauma support in the Fall.

In the meantime, there are resources families can access now. As a foster parent, and a Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI)® practitioner, I know first hand how using attachment-based, evidence-based, and trauma-informed interventions can address physical needs, attachment needs, and disarm fear-based behaviors. The TBRI® resource is a proven model that anyone; a teacher, parent, counselor, neighbor can use to work towards healing trauma.

TBRI® resources are already here in our region and being implemented across the state. Prior to the stay at home orders, Crossroads NOLA hosted TBRI® Fridays at low cost with the goal of training parents, teachers, social workers, and our justice system influencers. As a foster parent, mental health practitioner, and college success coach who’s worked with children, families, and young adults affected by trauma, I would strongly encourage anyone who is a caregiver, leader, or good neighbor to look into this resource.

Online TBRI® training opportunities are coming soon – visit to learn more.

Of course, no one should experience trauma but when they do every student in our city needs a TBRI® practitioner or resource in their school. For now, it is up to us as parents and caregivers to lead the way. Children and their families will need comprehensive and a collaborative effort across the entire charter system to ensure that every child has the support they need to learn, grow and heal.

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