OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) — Think about preschool. You started learning basic life and social skills at around four or five years old during the most formative time in your life.

Well, how about the students who have just finished up second grade at around seven or eight years old, who have just now stepped foot into a classroom? The pandemic put everyone’s lives on hold. This is why Crittenton Services is adamant about implementing their Trauma-Informed Elementary Schools program into schools across the state.

TIES is an early intervention program working with preschool, kindergarten, and first grade students in seven schools in Ohio County, and one school in Hancock County. They work to build social and emotional skills with children who are faced with trauma. 

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, more than two-thirds of children reported at least one traumatic event by the age of 16, and Melissa Keylor says that with the recent, worldwide pandemic, students are experiencing more developmental hardships than usual. 

“We had a family that reached out to us whose child never attended preschool because of COVID, and had large attachment issues and so, they struggled every day and it was impacting their classroom. So, the parent reached out and said ‘How can I help my child?’ and I think just those in general of wanted the behaviors and things if we don’t start young.”

Melissa Keylor – Director of Educational Services at Crittenton Services

Child trauma is a nationwide phenomenon, which is why E.J. Schodzinski, the Director of Marketing and development at Crittenton Services says that they are thankful for partners like the Benedum Foundation, the Bureau of Behavioral Health, and the Sisters of St. Joseph, but they will need more funding to implement this program across the state. 

“We really do the best with stretching the resources we have in Ohio County and Hancock County, so for us to go into other counties, we need lots of help.”

E.J. Schodzinski – Director of Marketing and Development at Crittenton Services

Funding is the first step in getting the TIES program into more schools to get children back on track in setting them up for success.