Safe, Supportive Environments

Students learn best in safe, supportive learning environments that address their academic, physical, emotional and mental well-being. Promoting a positive school climate, in which students feel engaged, safe, and connected is key to fostering these conditions for learning and promoting positive mental health. Efforts to create positive school climates support all students in a school and include building social-emotional skills, developing trauma-sensitive practices and policies, and establishing school connectedness among students and staff.  Schools with a positive school climate have reduced behavior problems, higher attendance, and improved academic achievement.

 Federal and state policies–such as the Every Student Succeeds Act–can provide funding to support schools and districts in establishing safe, supportive learning environments–for example, financing professional development on trauma-sensitive practices.

Featured Resources

News Leveraging the Every Student Succeeds Act to Support Student Health and Wellness in Tennessee
2020 Tennessee

This case study highlights Tennessee’s work to leverage the nation’s education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), to support the critical connection between health and learning. Tennessee’s inclusion of health and wellness in its ESSA plan and the guidance developed to support district-level implementation provide best practices and lessons learned for states striving to support student health and wellness through education policy and practice.

Events Safe and Supportive Schools 101
July 17, 2019 Presentation PDF

Sandra Williamson, American Institutes for Research; Anne Mathews-Younes, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; Valerie Sims Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health; Sarah Lee, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Healthy Schools Branch

Events Exploring Alignment of Medicaid and Education Systems to Expand the Mental Health Workforce
July 17, 2019 Presentation PDF

Eric Rossen, National Association of School Psychologists; Amy Edwards, Virginia Department of Education; Mike Leathead, Michigan Department of Education

Events A National Look at State Policy Trends
July 16, 2019 Presentation PDF

Deb Temkin, Child Trends; Kristen Harper, Child Trends; Robert Hull, National Association of State Boards of Education; Lena O'Rourke, Healthy Schools Campaign

Events Opportunities in Medicaid to Improve Access to Behavioral Health Care for Children and Youth
July 16, 2019 Presentation PDF

Kirsten Beronio, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Resources Responding to Trauma through Policies that Create Supportive Learning Environments

This publication guides state officials towards policies needed to build learning environments that effectively support students with a history of trauma.

Resources Expanding Substance Use Prevention and Early Intervention in Schools: A Toolkit

This toolkit provides information and resources to mobilize communities to expand school-based services for substance use prevention and early intervention.

Resources State Laws Promoting Social, Emotional, and Academic Development Leave Room for Improvement

This publication offers an analysis of state statutes and regulations aligned with the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model of school health.

News School Health Profiles Report

Conducted biannually since 1996. Profiles measures progress in the implementation of school policies and practices to improve the health of school-aged youth. Education and health officials can use Profiles data to support health-related policies and legislation.

News The State Education Standard

The January 2019 edition of NASBE’s peer-reviewed journal, focuses on how state policymakers can advance student safety and wellness. Articles on social-emotional learning, trauma-informed schools, health education standards, and more are included.