Durbin Announces $2.9 Million For Chicago Public Schools And Illinois State Board of Education for Trauma-Informed Care in Schools

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today visited George Westinghouse College Prep to discuss the recent awarding of two federal grants totaling $2.9 million to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) fortrauma-informed care in schools. These awards to break the cycle of violence and improve student mental health services are provided by a grant program created by Durbin and U.S. Representative Danny K. Davis (D-IL-7) in the 2018 SUPPORT forPatients and Families Act. 

“Too many young people in our communities experience trauma, fueling the vicious cycle of violence,” said Durbin. When a child witnesses a shooting or a parent’s drug overdose, this trauma can harm their brain and change the way they see the world. This is the heartbreaking reality in our country, but the good news is we can support, nurture, and help children cope with these experiences. This $2.9 million in federal funding that Representative Davis and I secured will bring critical trauma-informed care into our schools right here in Illinois.” 

“I am honored to work with Senator Durbin to champion policies to prevent and mitigate the trauma that far too many children and families in Chicago and in our nation endure,” said Davis. “Schools are uniquely positioned to help address the harmful effects of trauma, and we know that intervening when children are young helps them thrive. Given the need for trauma-informed services in my communities, I am proud that $2.9 million in federal funding will directly support students in Chicago and Illinois.” 

“Students who are mentally healthy and emotionally supported are much more likely to show up for school, alert, engaged, and able to do well,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “Mental health and social-emotional wellness are really the backbone of academic success. Fostering trauma-informed schools take a holistic approach, including training forteachers, more mental health professionals in schools, and building awareness among students and families of what supports they have access to. We deeply appreciate this federal investment that will build on Illinois’ nationally acclaimed REACH initiative and SEL Hubs to connect even more students and communities with the supports they need.” 

“The COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing trauma in our communities continues to have a tremendous impact on our students, but it also allows us to talk more openly about the importance of mental health and well-being,” said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. “This federal grant will help fund our many efforts to support students and families so they can move forward together stronger and ready to take advantage of academic and extracurricular activities.” 

CPS will use its funds to expand trauma-informed mental health services by training 1,700 school staff, 1,000 parents, and more than 18,000 students to use coping skills to prevent traumatic exposure from leading to substance use or violence. ISBE will use its funds in the Maywood/Proviso suburbs, as well as in rural areas downstate, to provide schools with a dedicated behavioral health team, comprised of clinical professionals and school support staff—serving nearly 7,000 students and 180 adults. Both CPS and ISBE will partner with Lurie Children’s to train school staff and provide higher-intensity clinical care for students who need it.  

Durbin, Davis, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI) established a new “Trauma Support in Schools” grant program at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) by including provisions from their Trauma-Informed Care for Children and Families Act within the SUPPORT Act that passed Congress in 2018. Durbin and Davis also led efforts to appropriate funds for this grant program, including $7 million in the Fiscal Year 2022 Omnibus appropriations bill and $28 million in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. In the SUPPORT Act, Durbin also created a new Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) research program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and clarified that National Health Service Corps (NHSC) clinicians can serve in schools as their commitment sites—contributing to 11 NHSC clinicians working at school-based health clinics in Illinois. 

Building upon that work, Durbin and Capito have introduced the bipartisan RISE from Trauma Act, which would enhance the trauma-informed workforce and expand community, school, and hospital-based services to identify and support children who experience trauma. 

Exposure to ACEs—such as witnessing a shooting—puts children in “fight or flight mode”, which can harms healthy brain development and increases the risk of chronic diseases, suicide, opioid misuse, and academic delays. This can fuel the cycle of violence as trauma harms the ability to regulate emotions, process fear, and form healthy relationships.