New Department of Education Initiative

Posted March 30, 2019

Recently, the Department of Education announced an initiative to address the inappropriate use of restraints and seclusions on children with disabilities. It will come as no surprise that the Ukeru team was thrilled to learn of this news.

The Initiative to Address the Inappropriate Use of Restraint and Seclusion, will focus on three areas:

  • Greater emphasis on completing compliance reviews;
  • Increased support for data collection; and
  • More technical support for public schools.

All three are exceptionally important to better understanding and addressing the challenge of overuse of restraint and seclusion. In particular, technical support for schools is critical. Without providing educators with a safe, physical alternative – and ensuring they are well trained in how to use them – this problem will not effectively be addressed. And that is just not acceptable.

For students who have experienced traumatic events, the impact of re-experiencing that trauma through the use of restraints and seclusions can be devastating. Nearly 50% of U.S. children have experienced at least one potentially traumatic adverse childhood experience (ACE). The long-term effects of childhood trauma can inhibit academic success, particularly for those in underserved communities. Students with continued exposure to traumatic events are more likely to repeat a grade, have severe attendance issues, or experience behavioral problems. In addition, trauma is correlated with low literacy, high dropout rates, low achievement, and the school-to-prison pipeline.

On the flip side, in a safe, trauma-informed learning environment, students are more open to altering behavior, considering new ideas, and accepting help. That is why we are so encouraged to see more and more classrooms – including our friends at Millcreek, Fall-Hamilton and Derby Hill Elementary – using trauma-informed approaches to help de-escalate aggressive behavior and manage crisis situations. With on-the-ground efforts like these combined with national support such as the Department of Education initiative, the elimination of restraints and seclusion is truly within our sights.