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Safe and Sound Schools Conference


The Safe and Sound Schools Conference is a day of collaboration and study of Emotionally Responsive Practice as part of the Community of Safe and Sound Schools Initiative. This annual conference is for elementary schools and early childhood programs that want to make sure that teachers, social workers and administrators have a deep understanding of child development, social and emotional foundations for learning, parent engagement, and mastery of supportive techniques for building a safe and empathic school community.

You may register for the conference at the school or program membership level or as an individual. See the box to the right for pricing and registration information. See below for a description of membership levels. 

How to Join Safe and Sound Schools for the 2017-18 School Year


Early Bird Registration discount available through September 15th.

  1. Register your school community. (Individual social workers can also enroll.)
  2. Pay selected membership fee via check or P.O. within 2 weeks of registration or alternative agreed upon arrangement.
  3. Receive a confirmation email. Look for another email in mid September for seminar choices and preregistration and our Beginning of Year podcast.

*Current Safe and Sound Schools: You have priority for registration! If you are having difficulty registering, please email Lesley Koplow at and indicate your wish to renew!

The Basic School Membership fee entitles schools to...

  • Send up to 5 staff members to the 3rd annual ERP Safe and Sound Schools Conference
  • Allow teachers to connect via our Online ERP Connections Group
  • Allow school-wide access to quarterly Podcasts on social/emotional issues by ERP Director Lesley Koplow.

The Enhanced School Membership...

  • Includes 2 onsite classroom coaching follow-up visits in addition to the above.

The Enhanced School Membership Plus...

  • Includes all of the above, plus an 8 session onsite Teacher Support Group, or 8 session onsite Parent Engagement Group.

Keynote Presentation

Light in the Schoolhouse Window:
Helping Children Find Their Way in Dark Times

Lesley Koplow, LCSW

Breakout Sessions

  • When Trauma Comes to School

    This session will focus on recognizing and responding to traumatic affects in early childhood and early grade settings. School friendly techniques for helping children feel safe and protected will be explored. Topics include:

    1. Recognizing "Trauma's Voice": What You Hear and See
    2. Children Protecting Themselves: Understanding Children’s Reactions
    3. Making Room For Traumatized Children in School: Cozy Corners and Feeling Charts
    4. The Gift of Feeling Safe: School Practices That Improve Capacity for Learning
  • The Essentials of Emotionally Responsive Practice (Recommended for staff new to ERP)

    Safe and Sound Schools use Emotionally Responsive Practice core concepts and techniques to meet the needs of children in the early childhood and elementary grade classroom. This seminar focuses on how children’s development issues and life experiences come out in the classroom, and how teachers can respond to these in helpful ways. Topics include:

    1. Development and Experience Come to School
    2. Inviting and Containing in the Early Grades Classroom
    3. Supporting Self Regulation and Self Comfort
    4. Using Reflective Language to Promote Connection
  • The Power of Transitional Objects

    Teddy Bears in the classroom? Learn how integrating transitional objects into classroom life can strengthen teacher-child relationships, promote empathy and pro-social behavior and build a “Safe and Sound” school community. Topics include:

    1. Attachment and Symbolic Processes
    2. Transitional Objects to Promote Connection to Self and Others
    3. School as Psychological Home Base
    4. Emergent Practice Using Transitional Objects at School
  • Literacy As “Good Mirror” for Emotional Well Being

    This session will focus on reading, writing, and acting stories that reflect children’s emotional and actual experiences, heighten attention and engagement and promote connection and positive self image. When children learn that reading and writing is a voice for self expression, receptivity and motivation are enhanced. Topics include:

    1. Story Gathering in the Classroom
    2. Reflective Technique in Story and Literacy Process
    3. Using Group Bibliotherapy to Address Common Ground Issues
    4. Creating the “just right” Reflective Book
  • Quilts and Curriculum: Using Metaphor and Reflective Technique to Build Community

    Children, teachers and parents need to find ways to connect to one another in other for school communities to thrive. This session allows participants to create symbols and metaphors that reflect their experiences, connect to others and find emergent curricular themes to follow in social studies, art and literacy. Topics include:

    1. Symbol and Metaphor as Parallel Process
    2. Creating Quilts=Creating Community
    3. The Value of Story
    4. Experiencing the Story Quilt Process
  • ERP for Children in the Upper Elementary Grades

    Children in upper elementary school can benefit from ERP to address the many challenges that are typical for this age group, as well as to allow older children to have opportunities for support at younger levels. Topics for this session include:

    1. Understanding Developmental Issues for 9, 10, 11 and 12 year olds
    2. Inviting and Containing in the Upper Grade Classroom
    3. Addressing "Big and Little" in Upper Grade Children
    4. Creating Community in the Upper Grades
  • Working With Children's Deportation Anxiety

    Immigration policies that threaten undocumented families with deportation impact children of all ages.  Teachers and social workers may struggle to help children and parents feel safe at school when separation issues of this magnitude are looming. Topics for this session include:

    1. Creating a "safe space" for anxious children and parents at school.
    2. Supporting children and families through learning  projects.
    3. Basic advocacy strategies.
    4. Creating a classroom culture where all are welcome.
  • Friday Morning Seminar & Monday Morning Visit

    This option allows attendee to come for a half day on Friday, December 8th and supplement their learning with a visit to a school that uses ERP during the following week.

    * The visiting option is capped at 15 visitors. It is not approved for social work CE credits.

Community of Safe and Sound Schools Initiative

What are Safe and Sound Schools?

Safe and Sound Schools are elementary schools and early childhood programs that use the work of Emotionally Responsive Practice at Bank Street to inform their interactions, routines and curriculum. Safe and Sound Schools give all staff members in the preschool or elementary school building a deep understanding of child development and social and emotional foundations for learning, as well as supportive techniques for building an empathic school community where children feel safe and connected.

Who Can Become a Safe and Sound School?

Elementary Schools, Head Start Programs, and Child Care Centers who want to be connected to ERP at Bank Street, want an opportunity for ongoing professional development and support, and want to connect to other schools who use Emotionally Responsive Practice can join Our Community of Safe and Sound Schools.

In order to support the work, each program pays a membership fee for the school year. See "How to Join Safe and Sound Schools" above for membership descriptions.

Our Safe and Sound School Community

is available to schools in New York City as well as schools across the country. NYC public schools can access our Promoting Safe and Supportive Schools requirements contract.

Out of town members who come to NYC for the conference and stay for the long week end can visit a school that practices ERP on Monday.

Why Safe and Sound Schools?

Research tells us that adverse childhood experiences are common across the income spectrum, and can heighten risk for physical and mental health problems as children grow up, in addition to creating social, emotional and learning issues while they are small. A safe, empathic, engaging school environment can act to diminish stress, nurture the developing brain and become a protective factor for the hundreds of children who attend each year.