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Dutchess County Trains Hundreds of Poughkeepsie City School District Staff Members in Trauma-Informed Care
PCSD personnel receive vital training with goal of fostering relationships with students, decreasing violence in schools

Published: 1/20/2022

Poughkeepsie … Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro today welcomed hundreds of Poughkeepsie City School District (PCSD) teachers, administrators and support staff to a unique virtual training session in Trauma-Informed Care to address the recent rise in violent incidents throughout the city involving school-aged youth. Staff from the County’s Department of Behavior and Community Health (DBCH), in collaboration with the Mid-Hudson Regional Partnership Center, conducted the daylong training in two sessions, allowing PCSD teachers and staff to learn how students are affected by stress and trauma, how to create lasting connections with them and de-escalate tensions in school and the community.

Today’s training, developed in collaboration with Mid-Hudson Regional Partnership Center and offered to every staff member in the district, is the latest step Dutchess County is taking to provide mental health education and support and help curb hostility in the district. In late November 2021, County Executive Molinaro, DBCH leadership, Department of Community and Family Services (DCFS) staff, county legislators Barrington Atkins and Randall Johnson, City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison, City Police Chief Thomas Pape and others met with PCSD Superintendent Dr. Eric Rosser to discuss how to address the uptick in incidents involving school-aged youth throughout the City of Poughkeepsie. In addition to highlighting numerous County resources available to the district during that meeting, the County Executive offered the staffing and resources to make today’s training – and forthcoming “Youth and Police Initiative” – available to the district at no cost, following the County Legislature’s inclusion of $500,000 in the 2022 County Budget to address violence among school-aged youth.

County Executive Molinaro said, “Dutchess County wants to see the Poughkeepsie City School District and its students succeed, and that’s why we have made this unprecedented, ongoing commitment of time, staffing, resources and funding to help inform and protect the district community. Students in the City of Poughkeepsie, in particular, face specific challenges, stressors and traumas, which need to be uniquely addressed, and today’s training will indeed impact young lives within the district. Teachers, administrators and staff today learned innovative ways of relating to the students in their care – taking a deep dive into the stress and trauma these young people may experience in school and at home – which they’ll take with them to their classrooms to assist these students make better decisions that don’t involve violence. Dutchess County will continue to help Poughkeepsie students, their families, faculty and staff find solutions to combat trauma and reach peaceful conflict resolution, moving forward.”

Among the topics discussed today, County staff taught PCSD staff:

  • how to learn and understand the impact of trauma, abuse and neglect on a child and how these impact adult relationships;
  • how traumatic-sensitive perspectives emphasize an approach that does not place blame on the individual suffering from the effects of trauma but focuses on what has happened to the individual and how the individual is utilizing the skills in their repertoire to cope with their thoughts, feelings and emotions;
  • troubling behavior is a manifestation of traumatic experiences and the individual’s best attempt to navigate situations that are perceived to be threatening;
  • stress can hurt and affect learning, but some types of stress can boost learning;
  • brain development is related to environmental experiences and sets the stage for how trauma can affect brain development; and
  • the brains of traumatized children and youth develop differently from normal.

In addition to today’s training, the County, in partnership with the City of Poughkeepsie Police, Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office and New York State Police, will offer the “Youth and Police Initiative” (YPI), which has been successfully offered in other cities, including White Plains. YPI is a curriculum-based program that helps build positive change and trust between youth and police officers, by providing early intervention initiatives for students to build rapport with police officers. It also creates links to positive community resources that support youth. City of Poughkeepsie Police and Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office will each provide officers for the program.

Dutchess County offers a wide range of mental health resources to local school districts, including:

  • Stabilization Center – available 24/7 at 230 North Road, Poughkeepsie
  • HELPLINE (845-485-9700) – immediate phone or text link with mental health professionals and connection to services
  • Mobile Crisis Intervention Team (MCIT) – caring mental health professionals who can go directly to a person in crisis to help prevent a situation from getting worse, see what the person needs, and connect them to services that can help them right away; and
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid training.

Dr. Rosser said, “We thank County Executive Molinaro and Dutchess County for their commitment to the Poughkeepsie City School District and Poughkeepsie community. We look forward to future collaborations to help every student reach their fullest potential.”

More information about the County’s services and programs for individuals living with mental health and/or substance use issues are available on DBCH’s Behavioral Health Services webpage.