PWC’s approach to working with students and schools is grounded in research on the impacts of trauma and toxic stress on children. According to the Harvard Center on the Developing Child, toxic stress is defined as exposure to “strong, frequent, and/or prolonged adversity [including] the accumulated burdens of family economic hardship, without adequate adult support.” Many of the conditions associated with chronic poverty, including housing insecurity, hunger, community violence, and family instability, are deeply intertwined with enduring and systemic racism. Taken together, these social realities expose children to a potent level of stress that can be toxic if they are not adequately buffered by the support of caring adults. Sadly, a large proportion of students attending public schools in New York City face just these conditions. And, families confronting the strains of poverty and its associated burdens may not have the time, money or emotional resources to provide the support their children need to counter these strains. When faced with the pressures of performing in school, these vulnerable children may experience emotional difficulties, and even mental health problems. Schools too are often unprepared to offer the necessary support to children who are struggling. These students are therefore the most likely to exhibit the problems – poor focus and attention, inconsistent attendance and difficulty socializing – that make classroom learning a challenge. Clearly vulnerable children need support and services, but schools too need to learn how to be safe and nurturing environments, how to welcome and serve children and families regardless of the challenges they face, and how to make classrooms places where every child can- and wants to – learn.
PWC works with schools to address the needs of struggling students, help educators create the kind of caring, responsive and supportive environments that best serve all students, and support families so they can ensure their children’s success. PWC brings an array of resources to schools, and directly places highly qualified, full-time social workers on site to provide a multi-tiered system of support. We ensure that schools have critical mental health services, training, targeted programming, consultation support, family engagement and community outreach to make them enriching environments where children can achieve their academic goals and develop the social and emotional skills that will help them flourish.
Students facing adversity can thrive—attend school regularly, focus in class and succeed academically— when they feel safe and supported in school.
PWC embeds Clinical Social Workers and Community School Directors into schools to provide trauma-informed supports and ensure all students have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Each year, PWC reaches over 10,000 students in over 30 NYC schools, Pre-K to high school, across all 5 boroughs.
PWC schools have improved attendance, on-task behavior, student achievement, and graduation rates.