Social and emotional learning (SEL) is something that people in schools and community-based organizations are talking about.

According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), “Social and emotional learning is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions.”

There is a Kentucky Social and Emotional Health Task Force that meets monthly in Frankfort and it is open to the public.  This group considers programs like Positive Behavior Interventions and Support and Sources of Strength.  We look for best practices in schools for social and emotional learning and we even look at legislation that may need to be changed to provide more of this in schools. If you have questions or would like me to raise some concerns, please let me know and I’ll do my best.  A fantastic resource to learn more about SEL is on the CASEL website.

Trauma-informed learning is a prevalent topic under the umbrella of social and emotional learning/health. According to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, it is estimated that 1 out of every 4 children who attend school have been impacted by a traumatic event.  Kentucky is doing great work in this area that should give educators and other stakeholders who work with kids in our state an opportunity to approach their work for from a trauma-informed perspective, including:

  • Trauma-Informed Practices Interagency Steering Committee
  • Trauma-Informed Practices Training for Trainers
  • Trauma-Informed Practices Overview Trainings
  • Trauma-Informed Practices Trainings for Educators
  • Mental Health First Aid
  • Department of Juvenile Justice, Department of Public Health, Kentucky Adult Education and many other organizations in the Commonwealth are looking very closely at this and trying to find ways to incorporate trauma-informed learning in their daily processes.


Damien Sweeney is KDE’s program coordinator for Comprehensive School Counseling. He may be reached at (502) 892-6639, ext. 4545, or by email at You also can follow Sweeney on Twitter @DamienSweeney33.