Sen. Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford

SPRINGFIELD – Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford passed a measure expanding the Whole Child Task Force, improving trauma-responsive practices in Illinois schools.

“Since the pandemic, the number of students who have experienced childhood trauma has increased drastically,” said Lightford (D-Maywood). “Our school administrators and teachers need preparation and support to better address student trauma.”

The Whole Child Task Force establishes an equitable, safe, inclusive and supportive environment in all schools for students dealing with trauma and mental health issues. The task force collects data on adverse childhood experiences and trauma, as well as the total number of school counselors, social workers, nurses and psychologists in Illinois schools.

As a part of the Black Caucus’ Four Pillar Agenda that Lightford spearheaded, House Bill 342 implements recommendations to the Whole Child Task Force Report to improve schools in Illinois by ensuring that all schools are equipped with training and resources to meet the diverse trauma and mental health needs of their students. Under the 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.

“This measure will give all Illinois schools training to identify the warning signs of mental illness, trauma and suicidal behavior in youth,” said Lightford. “This training is crucial to encouraging appropriate trauma responsive intervention and techniques in schools.”

House Bill 342 passed the Senate on Wednesday.