California Surgeon General Launches New Trauma Informed Training

SACRAMENTO – The Office of the California Surgeon General has launched a new trauma-informed training designed to help educators, school personnel and childcare providers respond to trauma and stress in children. Safe Spaces: Foundations of Trauma-Informed Practice for Educational and Care Settings was developed in collaboration with experts in education, youth mental health and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) research. The training is free, accessible online and available in English and Spanish.

“Stress and trauma can have a significant impact on a child’s health, development and ability to learn,” said California Surgeon General, Dr. Diana Ramos. “This training recognizes that educators, school personnel and childcare providers are often the first line of support for today’s children and youth and offers concrete tools to help them and nurture trauma-informed environments.”

Safe Spaces engages the learner with case examples, strategies, videos and practices – each varied according to the developmental stage served. Each lesson focuses on helping the learner understand four key concepts:

  • Their role in promoting resilience and healing
  • How individuals experience stress and trauma
  • The collective conditions for health and well-being
  • The role of systems in supporting health and well-being

The training includes three learning modules for those who work with children ages 0-5, 5-11 and 12-18 and will be available in English and Spanish. All individuals who complete the training will receive a certificate of completion from the California Surgeon General.

“California is continuing to advance our goal of improving our mental health systems to better serve all Californians, especially for our children and youth,” said California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “The Safe Spaces training is more proof of California’s commitment to meeting our children and youth where they are and providing the training and resources necessary for early care and education personnel to help keep our kids as safe and as healthy as possible.”


WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: Research suggests that ACEs affect student learning and behavior in the classroom. Children with three or more ACEs are five times more likely to have attendance issues, six times more likely to have behavior problems, and three times more likely to experience academic failure. Trauma-informed environments can play a critical role in enhancing resilience for children impacted by ACEs or other prolonged adversities.


BACKGROUND: This training was made possible through California’s Children & Youth Behavioral Health Initiative (CYBHI)—a five-year, $4.7 billion initiative that is transforming the way California supports children, youth and families.

The CYBHI serves as the core of California’s Master plan for Kids’ Mental Health, a historic investment that unites the efforts of health programs, education and social services with the goal of increasing access to mental health and substance use supports for all children and youth.  CYBHI is a major element of the Governor’s transformation of California’s mental health system – including the new ballot measure proposed for March 2024 with a bond to build housing with accountability (AB 351, Irwin) and reforms to the Mental Health Services Act to deliver services with results (SB 326, Eggman).

“California is committed to providing comprehensive, equitable, and culturally competent mental health services to California children and their families,” said First Partner, Jennifer Siebel Newsom. “Bilingual training will further institute trauma-informed care as an essential practice, as well as help equip educators, school personnel, and childcare providers with strategies and tools to better support California youth and proactively address trauma and stress at the earliest of ages.”

“At this moment when students still endure the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and of social and racial injustices evident in many communities, there could not be a more important time for all school staff to have the opportunity to learn the techniques of trauma-informed practice for schools,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. “I encourage all school districts to prioritize this training, as it will support the social-emotional well-being of students that will lead to academic success.”

“This training will help give educators the knowledge and skills to recognize the effects of trauma in their students; to engage in supportive, healing-oriented practices; and to connect students to additional mental health resources where needed” said Linda Darling-Hammond, President of the California State Board of Education. “We’re excited to see another resource for educators and school personnel that helps them build positive environments that support students’ learning and development.”

“All children deserve to have the best start in life. We know early learning and care providers play an important role in that journey,” said Giannina Pérez, Chair of the First 5 California Commission. “This training provides important tools they need to continue creating optimal environments for healthy learning and development. First 5 California stands in partnership with the Surgeon General to ensure all families and caregivers have the resources they need to support their own and their children’s mental well-being and resiliency.”

To learn more about these and other efforts to enhance mental health for all Californians, visit