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Building Skills Outside of the Classroom

August 27, 2019  |  Comments Off on Building Skills Outside of the Classroom

Alexander partners with bus drivers and school district officials to create trauma-informed spaces outside of the classroom.

A primary goal of treatment programs at Alexander Youth Network is to ensure that children are able to use their self-coping and regulating techniques outside of their treatment programs. A key indicator of the success of our programs is that children are able to better manage their mental and behavioral challenges at home, in the community, and in school. One of the ways we reach this goal is through actively partnering with school districts, teachers, and now transportation systems to incorporate trauma-informed care and regulatory practices outside the classroom.

A 2-hour drive | 2 hours of regulation

Many of the day treatment programs across Alexander’s network provide treatment for the entire school district or county at one specific school. For some of our kids, this can result in a 1-2 hour drive to our program each morning and afternoon. This expansive timeframe leaves kids with unoccupied time, distractions, and heightened stress, which in turn can lead to a crisis on bus routes.

Brain BagThis is exactly what happened for one of our day treatment programs in Cumberland County, where all of the kids in the program were sitting through a 2-hour drive to and from school. During the drive, bus drivers and attendants have found it challenging to identify signs of stress or in keeping kids regulated during the drive which lead to outbursts and even fights between students. As a result, Alexander provided an interactive training with the day treatment bus drivers and they were better able to prepare for the 4 plus hours on the bus each day.

Members of our Southern Piedmont team, Sam Kruetzfeldt, Program Manager of Sherwood Park Day Treatment and Ashley Sparks, Executive Director of the Southern Piedmont region, have been able to work directly with their bus drivers and all county staff to create innovative solutions for engaging students during bus rides. While our day treatment buses (across the state) are equipped with “Brain Bags” and other regulating tools, Alexander is using this training as an opportunity to equip drivers across the county in trauma-informed care and regulating practices. Within Cumberland County, all drivers are now able to spot early signs of stress and crisis and can regulate the situation before it escalates.

Training across the Alexander Network

Sam Kruetzfeldt Cumberland CountyOur transportation training are aiding transportation teams across the Alexander network. Charlotte Day Treatment drivers, who are also Alexander employees, also receive similar training. In having a general background in the mental and behavioral challenges our kids face, drivers are able to utilize different resources and think outside of the box to meet the needs of our kids. Transportation Specialist, Tramaine Carter, also provides staff with daily check-ins to go over different regulatory techniques and discuss the challenges drivers and attendants may face during their drives.

Trauma-informed buses are just one step to creating more inclusive spaces for children with behavioral challenges in school. Through the training at Alexander, drivers and school communities are learning more about how to identify and deescalate stressful situations with children.

“The biggest thing to remember is that, even if a child is not at Alexander, it does not mean that they don’t need attention and support,” said Ashley Sparks, Executive Director Southern Piedmont Region about hosting training for external staff.

She hopes that in providing training to staff in the Cumberland County School District, more staff will inquire about becoming trauma-informed and creating inclusive spaces for children throughout the school system. By collectively raising awareness of the challenges our children face, we are able to brainstorm sustainable solutions to meet their needs for long term success.


Written by Emily Gordon.

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