The Journey Back, School Reentry - How You Can Help

By Amy Clark

Growing up is hard work and every child copes differently with the social, emotional, and academic rigors of attending school. After a burn injury or traumatic loss, day-to-day challenges are compounded by additional stressors. Helping a child regain a sense of normalcy to their lives after burn injury and reconnect with their peer community is critical. School reentry is an important part of that process.

Supporting a Child or Family Through School Reentry

Information is everywhere. Kids are plugged in and online, and information spreads faster than ever before. When a major event occurs in a school community -- such as a student who is injured or a highly publicized sudden death of a parent -- the information flood gates open. It is your responsibility as a parent, teacher, guidance counselor or caring adult to offer support.

One way to offer support is by educating the school community through a school reentry program. A school reentry program for a returning student with a burn injury offers an opportunity to educate the faculty and student body from a factual yet compassionate basis. It provides an opportunity to promote empathy through understanding and connects the school community to the impacted family in a supportive way.

The Journey Back School Reentry Program

Phoenix Society offers a free, online school reentry program called The Journey Back. The program provides resources for parents, teachers, and peers to assist a child in school reentry after a burn injury or traumatic loss. The complete program is available on our website for access anytime at no cost. You can use this program one time, several times during a child’s development, or even several years down the road after the incident.

The Journey Back, provides practical information in a user-friendly format, based upon a sound trauma-informed and child-focused foundation. We encourage burn care professionals, mental health professionals, fire safety educators, teachers, and family members to use The Journey Back program and offer it as an option when any child returns to school after a burn injury or traumatic loss.

The Journey Back school re-entry program includes:

  • an educational tutorial
  • an extensive how to e-book manual
  • a library of helpful download templates, handouts and videos

How To Be Supportive Throughout the School Reentry Process

Trauma can be tricky.  It can surface in many different ways, and having an awareness of what that looks like for kids and teens will help you to the activate tools that can impact their healing and their lives in a very positive way. The following are some suggestions for helping the student:

  • Ask specific questions about school like “Who was a good friend today?” or “What challenges did you have today?” or “How was your concentration today?”
  • Monitor the student for adjustment by staying in close contact with the school team.
  • Offer social skills tools and age appropriate activities to feel connected to student life again.
  • Seek further support if needed.

Join over 100 hospitals and over 300 users that are currently accessing The Journey Back and support a child or teen to getting back to living their lives at school!


Amy Clark, BS, CTS, has worked for the Phoenix Society since 2002 and is currently our Program Consultant. Prior to working at Phoenix Society she coordinated the child life program at The Children's Hospital at Bronson and later took a role as child life specialist at Spectrum Health Regional Burn Center. Amy has worked with camps, prevention groups, and other organizations across the nation to provide support services to children and families. She has collaborated with numerous professionals across the nation to develop resources and services to support families and children who have been affected by burn injury.

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