Sen. Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford

SPRINGFIELD – Building upon her steadfast commitment to ensure Illinois schools are taking a trauma-responsive approach, Senator Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford championed a new law to bring more training and resources to the education system.

“School officials should be equipped to identify the warning signs of mental illness, trauma and suicidal behavior in youth,” said Lightford (D-Maywood). “Training is crucial to encouraging appropriate trauma-responsive intervention and techniques in schools.”

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 law, 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.

“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.”

House Bill 342 was signed into law Thursday.