What Separated Children Require in School

Meghan Dunn (Photo vai Chalkbeat)

The 300 or so children who were separated from their parents at the southern border in recent weeks and sent to NYC will be getting a wide range of services from the city. Although the school year has ended for children in NYC, there is still concern about the educational instruction these children have been receiving, largely on an ad hoc basis, at some of the day facilities around the metropolitan area which have federal contracts to educate and care for the children.

Alex Zimmerman of Chalkbeat spoke with Meghan Dunn, principal of P.S. 446 in Brownsville, Brooklyn, who “has deep experience educating students who have experienced trauma. Roughly one in four of her students live in temporary housing, while others are in foster care or have parents who have been incarcerated.” Zimmerman asked her what she might do to help if she had a student who had been separated from his or her parents.

The first thing I would think about and try to do is make sure that kid gets connected to an adult in the building. And whether or not that is their teacher or some other adult —  that there is an adult who is trying to proactively build bonds and relationships with this kid who most likely struggles with bonds and relationships because of the trauma that they’ve been through. And making sure that every day there is a check in: How are you feeling? Is there anything I should know about?

It sounds silly and really simple and you can’t buy it in a store, but that’s the number one thing that kids need and that sets kids up for success, and they need adults who aren’t going to quit on them even when they’re […] really trying to push that adult away.

Dunn also spoke about a “family inventory” and other assessments she would do, in addition to academic assessments. Read more about her experiences with students and the strategies she employs, at Chalkbeat.

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