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Measure adopts several recommendations of the Whole Child Task Force, passed as part of the Black Caucus’ four-pillar agenda

SPRINGFIELD – Building upon her steadfast leadership to take a more holistic, trauma-informed approach in schools, Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford passed a measure to equip schools with the training and resources they need to meet the diverse trauma and mental health needs of students.

“While there are individual schools, centers and programs that do a strong job supporting the well-being of students, these efforts are locally driven. They are not systemic,” said Lightford (D-Maywood). “We need a real shift toward a systemic approach to supporting students’ cultural, physical, emotional and mental health needs.”

Schools across the state would be equipped with training and resources to meet the diverse trauma and mental health needs of students, under Lightford’s measure. The Illinois State Board of Education would create a Children’s Adversity Index, which would measure community childhood trauma exposure across the population of children 3-18 years old by May 31, 2025.

ISBE, under the bill, would create a committee to make recommendations amending education licensing requirements to include training on adverse childhood experiences, trauma, secondary traumatic stress, and creating trauma-responsive learning environments and/or communities.

Lightford’s measure – Senate Bill 16 – builds upon the Black Caucus’ four-pillar agenda. In January 2021, following the tragic, racially charged deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, Lightford led an education overhaul to tackle systemic racism in schools.

The plan included the Whole Child Task Force, which was commissioned to lay out a comprehensive set of steps the state can take to create a safe, supportive and healing center for children.

 “For all students to succeed in schools and beyond, we need to ensure every school is equipped to meet the diverse needs,” said Lightford. “We need to continue laying the foundation for Illinois to become a national leader in addressing student needs and well-being.”

Senate Bill 16 passed the Senate Thursday and heads to the House or further consideration.