SECLUSION, RESTRAINTS, EBP, AND THE SCHOOL-TO-PRISON PIPELINE: Revisiting Our First SSWNetwork LiveChat In This Time of Uprising For Black Lives
(Pictured: the sign on the Chicago hot dog shop Wieners’ Circle, this past weekend)
SSWN readers: this is a deeply traumatizing time in our country, and we want to hear from you. Going from the many still-unclear impacts of the trauma of the pandemic to a national uprising caused by the continued state-enabled murder of black and brown people is overwhelming and is forcing a conversation about issues related to militarized police, systemic racism, inequality, and white supremacy that are personal, painful and difficult, but necessary. We invite you to tell us more about your own experience in this time in a few important ways:
1) Over at our social media platform SSWNetwork, join our LunchTime LiveChats 11-Noon central time, M, W, & F now through June 12th, where we will create space there to share and process what we’re all seeing and feeling. In this article, I’m re-posting our first-ever SSWNetwork LiveChat, co-led by two amazing school social workers, on their experiences working to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, specifically around understanding how seclusion and restraints in some ways embody schools AS prisons for vulnerable youth, many of them black and brown students who have IEPs and/or attend special therapeutic schools in their home state of Illinois;
2) Submit article ideas about how you are responding to this multi-faceted crisis right now in our country, as many school years have ended or are coming to a close. Some potential directions your article ideas could go (just a partial list, feel free to suggest other ideas, too): examples of how you’re talking to your students this week about the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many other black and brown people by police; if your school is already out for the Summer, examples of how you and your school are planning to incorporate these serious issues further into your school re-opening plans for Fall; an examination of what having armed police in schools means for schools that claim to be trauma-informed; and finally, a personal reflection on your own lived experiences with systemic racism and white supremacy, either as a SSW of color or a white SSW who is struggling to figure out how to be an anti-racist practitioner;
3) Help us better advocate for SSW during this ongoing pandemic (which is FAR from over, even though our attention has necessarily turned to the uprisings happening all around us this past week) by completing our “School Social Work Practice During A Pandemic: A Web Survey Assessing SSW Needs”. You can read more about our survey project here and take the survey now at this link: https://hujisocialwork.co1.qualtrics.com/…/SV_01dqfOKie3WNh….
Thank you for being here and please reach out to me at [email protected] and our SSWN Managing Editor Sean Delaney [email protected] if you have ideas for a SSWN article you want to work on–we would especially welcome a team or group of SSW working together on a piece as well, and would be happy to help you make it happen. Thanks–Prof. Michael Kelly, SSWN co-editor & Loyola SMHAPP Certificate Director
SSWNetwork LiveChat, December 7th, 2019: Seclusion, Restraints, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline in PreK-12 Schools
Now to the LiveChat that has lots of important implications for our current moment, as we grapple with how to be anti-racist in our SSW practice and to dismantles white supremacy at our schools: On behalf of my co-hosts today Ms. Penny Williams-Wolford and Mr. Ryan Hurley, Loyola SMHAPP Certificate students and mighty Illinois SSW, I’m thrilled to share the chat transcript from our conversation on Saturday morning, 12/7. Here’s more information on Penny and Ryan and what they shared with SSWNetwork in early December 2019 about this stark example of how many schools can create prison-like conditions for youth in the name of keeping them safe, and traumatize them in the process.
Ryan Hurley09:06 amGood morning, everyone!
Lisa Baker09:06 amhello!
Michael Kelly09:06 amHello everyone, my name is Michael Kelly, and I’m a Prof at Loyola Chicago, Director of the SMHAPP Certificate, and co-editor of this SSWNetwork site. Welcome to our 1st Live Chat. Let’s . do quick introductions, so we can share our bios with others when we save this. Who wants to go first?
Penny Williams-Wolford09:07 amGood Morning, I’m Penny a second-year school social Worker at a school in the western suburbs of Chicago.
This week’s topic has been seclusion/restraints in K-12 environments: what works, what is harmful, and what’s happening right now in IL about all this.
Ryan Hurley09:07 amHere’s the link to the original Chicago Tribune article:The Quiet Rooms: Children are being locked away, alone and terrified, in schools across Illinois
The spaces have gentle names: The reflection room. The cool-down room. The calming room. The quiet room. But shut inside them, in public schools across the state, children as young as 5 wail for their parents, scream in anger and beg to be let out.
Michael Kelly09:08 amGreat–Ryan can you introduce yourself, and then we have 2 Lisas on now as well if you could introduce yourself–welcome!
Lisa Baker09:08 amLisa Baker, from class
Michael Kelly09:09 amHi Lisa–and our “other Lisa” ??
Ryan Hurley09:09 amHello! I’m Ryan… I’m an elementary social worker, currently working primarily with students in a self-contained setting in Naperville
Penny Williams-Wolford09:09 amHi Lisa and Lisa, Thank you for joining us.
Ryan Hurley09:10 amHello, Lisas
Michael Kelly09:10 amSo let’s get started with the goals of this morning’s chat:Each week we’re going to discuss a topic that students from the Loyola SMHAPP certificate are working on, either in their school practice or as part of their larger school-change project.
Michael Kelly09:11 amThis week’s topic has been seclusion/restraints in K-12 environments: what works, what is harmful, and what’s happening right now in IL about all this.
Ryan Hurley09:11 amSo the topic that Penny & I chose is in regards to recent policy changes in IL
Lisa Baker09:12 amIts a great topic.
Michael Kelly09:12 amI’m so grateful for Penny and Ryan taking this topic and getting our Live Chats started. What we’re going to do is reflect a bit on the comments already made this week on our SSWNetwork, share some of the EBP and policy changes underway, and conclude with some Q & A from our group.
Penny Williams-Wolford09:12 amOur goal was to provide a space and time (live chat) where school social workers could talk about Restraints, Time Outs and Seclusions
Ryan Hurley09:13 amIn late-November, the Chicago Tribune published an article examining the use of thousands of isolated time outs across various schools in ILExactly, Penny. Our hope was to provide a “one-stop shop” for social workers & other professionals that might not be as aware about this topic
Lisa Baker09:14 amI work in alternative education and things got really tense with those changes
Michael Kelly09:14 amLisa, can you share a bit about that (as well as the other Lisa, if you have any initial thoughts)?
Ryan Hurley09:14 amLisa B, can you share more re: the tension you’re experiencing?
Ryan Hurley09:15 amProf Kelly keeps beating me to similar posts 🙂
Lisa Baker09:15 amMy building has about 50 students or so and we have had 30 holds, 25 of them going to prone
Penny Williams-Wolford09:15 amLisa B, I imagine this emergency ruling forced schools to reflect on their current practice and what they need to do to ensure they were in compliance.
Lisa Baker09:16 amSo the crisis team is very nervous what that means
Penny Williams-Wolford09:16 amHas your District provided any professional development since the change took place?
Lisa Baker09:16 amThe updated ruling allowing prone in certain cases may help, but it seems you need to know ahead of time which students you may need to go pronee
The (Chicago Tribune) article broke my heart. I had no idea that rooms like that existed. I’d seen “time out” rooms and they were nothing like those.
Lisa Baker09:17 amYes, Penny, they are sending everyone out to bee recertified in CPI
Michael Kelly09:17 amThat’s a great question Penny for us to unpack here and in the future–how are districts already training people, and how has that training changed in IL at least in the wake of the Trib article?
Lisa Baker09:17 amMy building has priority in our district and every staff member will be CPI certified, most by winter break
Ryan Hurley09:18 amOne of the main take-aways from the Trib article is that, across the state, there were many instances where more restrictive means (isolated time-outs, physical restraints) were used for more behavior management, as opposed to safely manage imminent risks of harm to the student in question or other students/staff
Penny Williams-Wolford09:18 amI am familiar with the CPI training. As a school social worker intern, the District provided CPI training. I found it to be very helpful. Especially the de-escalation portion of the training.
Michael Kelly09:19 amAnd Ryan that stood out to me too, and let’s come back to that. For now, can we describe a bit about CPI and what it is/isn’t for our SSWNetwork members who will read this later?
Ryan Hurley09:20 amThe de-escalation methods of CPI are helpful, and within the past few years they’ve expanded it to include a decision matric that’s really great in discerning safey concerns*safety concernsAssessing “likelihood” vs. “severity”
Lisa Johnson Haire09:21 amGood morning all, I am Lisa Johnson Haire. I am a currently in the SMHAPP program. I work in St. Louis County. I was not aware of the restraint rooms until this article.I am CPI trained. I have been for years. I have my refresher on Monday!
Michael Kelly09:22 amWelcome Lisa! Can you tell us what you know happens for students with challenging behaviors in schools in MO?
One of the main take-aways from the Trib article is that, across the state, there were many instances where more restrictive means (isolated time-outs, physical restraints) were used for more behavior management, as opposed to safely manage imminent risks of harm to the student in question or other students/staff.
Penny Williams-Wolford09:22 amLisa J-H, What was your reaction as you learning about these rooms and saw the rooms and the dimensions of some of the rooms?
Michael Kelly09:24 amPenny to your question for Lisa J.H.–many, many people across the country that read the Trib article and the follow-up work you and Ryan did on our site were both horrified but also saw examples of this is in their own state/districts.
Lisa Baker09:24 amThe article broke my heart. I had no idea that rooms like that existedI’d seen “time out” rooms and they were nothing like those
Lisa Johnson Haire09:25 amWith NCI/CPI we are taught about using a supportive stance, even tone of voice, keeping a safe distance. Even the type of verbal responses to a student in crisis.
Lisa Johnson Haire09:26 amWe are trained to do all of that first. Physical restraint is a last resort for safety of the student or others.
Lisa Baker09:26 amI find the verbal de-escalation techniques in CPI are good. I’ve been using them for years. Its the actual holds that I question the efficacy of.
Ryan Hurley09:27 amI would absolutely agree with that, Lisa B
Lisa Johnson Haire09:28 amSafety restraints are to be done in teams. One on each side of the person and one to watch for safety practice monitoring.
Scott Carchedi09:28 amHey all! Great to see everyone this morning. Thanks Penny and Ryan for being here.
Penny Williams-Wolford09:28 amLisa B, As a school social worker it is dishearting to know these rooms have been used and Districts thought this was good for students. As a second year School Social Worker I value my reflective supervision and I consistently challenge myself to incorporate Evidenced Based Practices into my work with students, staff, and when working with administrators.
Lisa Johnson Haire09:29 amDr. Kelly, in MO suspension is still used so if the safety issue is serious the administration has that option too.
Penny Williams-Wolford09:29 amHi Scott, thank you for joining us. Have you read the Trib article yet?
Lisa Baker09:30 amWe are still able to use CPI holds as well
Lisa Johnson Haire09:30 amHi Penny, the rooms looked more like what I have seen in other settings like detention centers or seclusion restraint rooms at a medical facility.
Lisa Baker09:31 amThe only time out rooms I’ve seen don’ have doors.
Scott Carchedi09:31 amYes. I haven’t seen what was described in the school setting, but I worked in an inpatient psychiatric facility for a few years and it definitely reflects what I’ve seen there.
Lisa Baker09:31 amI agree Lisa JH
As a school social worker it is disheartening to know these rooms have been used and Districts thought this was good for students. As a second year School Social Worker I value my reflective supervision and I consistently challenge myself to incorporate Evidenced Based Practices into my work with students, staff, and when working with administrators.
Michael Kelly09:31 amHey Scott–great to have you on, with this small and mighty group as we get started with these Live Chats: I know you have some experience in alternative ed as well–how are things handled there in your experience?
Ryan Hurley09:31 amMany rooms in public schools are often just re-purposed empty smaller offices
Penny Williams-Wolford09:32 amLisa B, Has your District changed some of their policies and procedures to ensure they were in compliance?
Lisa Baker09:32 amThis is a difficult thing for me. Before I had my current job I would have not understood the need for physical restraint and isolation, but now, the changes worry me that someone is going to get hurt
Michael Kelly09:32 amAnd to Scott and Lisa J.H.’s points: for me, the rooms in the article evoked lots of images of juvenile detention and/or psych ward rooms.
Lisa Baker09:33 amYes, they have. We are currently not allowed to take a student to a prone position and the criteria for hands on at all is much more strict
Lisa Johnson Haire09:33 amThanks for the article Ryan
…the rooms looked more like what I have seen in other settings like detention centers or seclusion restraint rooms at a medical facility.
Scott Carchedi09:34 amThings are pretty hands off in my setting. We don’t have isolation rooms. We generally just manage the environment and call police if necessary. I’m glad this is the approach as we receive sufficient training on the holds. I’ve participated in MANY holds and they almost never go smoothly, even when you’re used to doing them everyday. Staff and students get hurt.don’t recieve*
Ryan Hurley09:34 amThe original article definitely used some of the most extreme examples (which makes it nonetheless heart-wrenching)
Michael Kelly09:35 amAnd to that point Ryan, I wonder if in your districts people have pushed back at all–saying, this is an overreaction, or the article was overblown?
Michael Kelly09:36 amAnd as a related question, has anyone in your districts (yourselves included, of course) looked at the racialized “school-to-prison” pipeline aspect of this and talked about it openly?
Lisa Baker09:36 amProf. Kelly, I don’t think the article was overblown, just sensationalist to call attention to the worse of the conditions out thereI think the ISBE reaction was a little much though
Lisa Johnson Haire09:37 amScott, I agree. If you are part of a team you need to practice before you would need it live.
Penny Williams-Wolford09:37 amScott, I am hopeful that the police offers that come are trained to work with students vs typical police training. If that makes sense.
Lisa Baker09:37 amIt scared districts who are using isolation and restraint properly
Michael Kelly09:37 amI’m hearing that from SMHAPP students and Loyola field placements as well, Lisa B. ISBE reacted, and it had to, but there’s a lot of frustration I’m hearing. What are you all hearing/seeing?
Lisa Johnson Haire09:38 amDetention and inpatient psychiatric care even us CPI here and still try not to do physical restraint unless it is necessary.
I am hopeful that the police offers that come are trained to work with students vs typical police training. If that makes sense.
Michael Kelly09:39 am100% Scott to this–having this be a one-off training, especially with the high turnover we know SpEd staffs have is concerning, right?
Lisa Johnson Haire09:39 amWe have security offices and police (SROs) in our building and they do the physical restraint if needed. I am almost exclusively verbal promoting.
Penny Williams-Wolford09:40 amProfessor Kelly, I have heard teachers say something like…they will end up in a room similar to this when they get out of school. When I heard this I was mortified.
Penny Williams-Wolford09:41 amScott, that is great!!! I wish we could clone them for every community. ?
Scott Carchedi09:41 [email protected] Absolutely! And another part of the problem is that a debrief doesn’t always happen which leaves people with a lot of feelings after and incident that don’t get addressed.
Michael Kelly09:41 amI know you had mentioned that before Penny, and while it’s horrible it’s important for us to note and call out–to me, one of the reasons these rooms, and practices exist is that the community leaders and adults in the school often view their kids as “others” who are just going to wind up in trouble/prison eventually, and these practices and rooms reflect that.
Ryan Hurley09:42 amIt’s really important for teams to be practicing the various aspects of CPI (or whatever de-escalation and/or restraint methods your district uses)… Not just practicing the physical de-escalation techniques, but also refreshing as teams those things Lisa mentioned above (therapeutic stance, tone of voice, power struggles, etc).
Michael Kelly09:42 amAdd to that the structural racism we know is there for many of our black and brown youth period and it’s relatively easy to see how we get to an article like this one (which if you read it, had plenty of black and brown faces featured as the student “victims”)
Lisa Johnson Haire09:42 amDr. Kelly, I don’t know if this is an exaggeration. I looked at the map, most of the schools in Illinois near me did not have restraint data. I believe the accountability and oversite is what the state of IL is going to respond to. Unfortunately, they cannot take all recourse from schools without giving them someone to replace it.
Penny Williams-Wolford09:43 amI do not recall if CPI encourages/suggests ongoing practice. If they do not, I hope many Districts see the importance of doing this.
Michael Kelly09:43 amSo we have a new person that just joined us–hi Melissa, can you introduce yourself?
Michael Kelly09:45 amSo as we head towards 10 with all this awesome back and forth, I had a few closing questions I wanted to offer. Is that okay to do now, Penny & Ryan?
Ryan Hurley09:45 amgo for it!
Add to that the structural racism we know is there for many of our black and brown youth period and it’s relatively easy to see how we get to an article like this one (which if you read it, had plenty of black and brown faces featured as the student “victims”)
Penny Williams-Wolford09:46 amHi Melissa, Thank you for joining us!
Michael Kelly09:46 amGreat–Question #1 (hope everybody can try to answer it from their own spot): What do you see as the role of school social workers and other clinicians in both doing seclusion/restraint work and advocating for students who need this level of support?
Penny Williams-Wolford09:46 amSure, go ahead.
Ryan Hurley09:49 amThat ^ is a really challenging and delicate balance. Being involved in physical restraints can be highly damaging for therapeutic rapport, particularly with students with a history of trauma, and that therapeutic rapport can take a long time to re-establish…
Lisa Johnson Haire09:50 [email protected] Dr. Kelly, I agree with the pipeline and cultural issues. For kids that don’t like school, if you get locked up there you will not want tk return. Which can lead to more behavior that can end in incarceration. I still think if starts with relationships with humans.
Ryan Hurley09:50 am…but also I find that the severity and intensity of the needs of our students that myself or others are responding to require a high-level of clinical insight and training
Lisa Baker09:51 amI agree with Ryan. It can put you in a sticky situation. I think school social workers should be there to support, but not participate in the holds if at all possible
Michael Kelly09:52 amFinal Question #2: Given the interest and importance of this topic, how can we best make it a regular feature on our SSWN and SSWNetwork sites going forward?
Scott Carchedi09:52 amIn addition to maybe taking the lead on PD (being a CPI trainer, verbal de-escalation training, etc.). They should also have a seat at the table when school/district policies are created related to safety. I also think our training positions us to effectively lead debriefings after incidents. This part is so critical for staff.
Penny Williams-Wolford09:52 amGreat question. I see the school mental health professional advocating for evidenced based practices that would include training that incorporates de-escalation, ongoing personal and team reflection that allow them to work on “How do we improve our de-escalation technique so that X responds before the student becomes a harm to himself or others?” What can we do differently in our everyday practices to support this and other students? I think our role is to advocate for ongoing (monthly PD) SEL for staff, monthly parent workshops and ways to work with the community so the community supports the students, family and school system too.
Lisa Johnson Haire09:53 amMy personal role in restraint is to communicate with the person and help them regain rational thoughts. If they are rational, they can walk on their own. If they walk on their own, no one will restrain them. Again, this works best when you know the student and you have a relationship with them.
Lisa Baker09:54 amIt might be good to write an article on it and then add the updates as they come up, plus encourage everyone to ask questions and make comments.
In addition to maybe taking the lead on PD (being a CPI trainer, verbal de-escalation training, etc.). They should also have a seat at the table when school/district policies are created related to safety. I also think our training positions us to effectively lead debriefings after incidents. This part is so critical for staff.
Michael Kelly09:55 amI agree Lisa B., we can definitely take this chat, edit it and put an article together (and I can also see if there are other practice/research experts that might want to help us write it, along with the amazing practice wisdom on display here in this chat)!
Lisa Johnson Haire09:56 amThanks for the chat.
Michael Kelly09:56 amAny final thoughts on the chat today before we sign off in a few minutes?
Ryan Hurley09:57 amThinking of Shannon’s upcoming “MH for the MH practitioner” podcast, I’ve found that self-care looks different when you yourself are (depending on your context) in these highly-charged, intense situations with students… it has a cascading/compounding effect that is beyond more general conversations around self-care
Lisa Baker09:57 amI think “isolation rooms” need to be re-thought and re-designed.
Michael Kelly09:59 amThis has been a fantastic first chat I think, and I want to give a big THANK YOU to Ryan and Penny for going first with their topic. Stay tuned here for future Saturday chats, and I will also follow up with you both on the edited chat text as a possible article.
Ryan Hurley09:59 am^ that’s what prof kelly is paying me forjk
Michael Kelly09:59 am?? ryan
Ryan Hurley09:59 amThank you, everyone, for (digitally) coming out!
Scott Carchedi10:00 amThanks everyone!
Great question. I see the school mental health professional advocating for evidenced based practices that would include training that incorporates de-escalation, ongoing personal and team reflection that allow them to work on “How do we improve our de-escalation technique so that X responds before the student becomes a harm to himself or others?” What can we do differently in our everyday practices to support this and other students? I think our role is to advocate for ongoing (monthly PD) SEL for staff, monthly parent workshops and ways to work with the community so the community supports the students, family and school system too.
Michael Kelly10:00 amTake care everybody–have a great rest of your weekend!
Penny Williams-Wolford10:01 amProfessor Kelly, Thank you for including this as part of our SMHAPP program. This has been great. @Ryan thank you…#TeamRyanandPenny ?