By Bailey Wright


The South Carolina Department of Education is partnering with Children’s Trust of South Carolina to help schools “recognize and address” the impacts the pandemic has had on children’s mental health.

Every school district is now eligible to send representatives to a nationally-established training to learn about adverse childhood experiences- also known as ACEs.

“The pandemic has had a profound effect on children and their physical and mental health. We know the negative, long-term effects of trauma and stress, especially the impact it can have on a child’s developing brain,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman in a statement. “The ACEs training offered through Children’s Trust will better equip our state’s educators to build resilience in their schools and classrooms.”

Training will be provided at various locations in the state by Children’s Trust. The training is called Understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences from ACE Interface, Inc.. Several local school districts have completed the training, including Greenville and Oconee.

“The intent is that these trainers will take the knowledge back to their schools and districts, training even more teachers and administrators, building exponentially the number of people who understand toxic stress, how to recognize it, address it and repair it,” said Sue Williams, CEO of Children’s Trust. This project will grow the number of ACE trainers in South Carolina from 200 to 900.

$265,075 in funding is being provided from the SCDE through the American Rescue Plan Act’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.

Children’s Trust has been training ACE trainers using ACE Interface since 2015. ACEs are described as traumatic events the occur in a child’s life prior to the age of 18- events like emotional, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, substance use, food insecurity, and being separated from parents.

These events can harm a child’s brain and its development, resulting sometimes in long-term negative health and social outcomes.

“We want to shift a mindset from asking ‘what is wrong with you’ to ‘what has happened to you,’” Williams said. “We are excited to be working with SCDE on this initiative. If we work to address that adversity and toxic stress for children and their teachers, we can help both be healthier by building those essential resilience skills.”

More information on upcoming trainings are listed on the Children’s Trust event page. Individual schools or districts that are interested in learning more about the ACE Train-the-Trainer opportunity should contact Michael Shirley, director of community and workforce development, at 803-744-4039 or