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Unconditional Education

Supporting Schools to Serve All Students

Robin Detterman, Jenny Ventura, Lihi Rosenthal, and Ken Berrick

Publication Date - April 2019

ISBN: 9780190886516

232 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock


After decades of reform, America's public schools continue to fail particular groups of students; the greatest opportunity gaps are faced by those whose achievement is hindered by complex stressors, including disability, trauma, poverty, and institutionalized racism. When students' needs overwhelm the neighborhood schools assigned to serve them, they are relegated to increasingly isolated educational environments. Unconditional Education (UE) offers an alternate approach that transforms schools into communities where all students can thrive. It reduces the need for more intensive and costly future remediation by pairing a holistic, multi-tiered system of supports with an intentional focus on overall culture and climate, and promotes systematic coordination and integration of funding and services by identifying gaps and eliminating redundancies to increase the efficient allocation of available resources. This book is an essential resource for mental health and educational stakeholders (i.e., school social workers, therapists, teachers, school administrators, and district-level leaders) who are interested in adopting an unconditional approach to supporting the students within their schools.


  • Details a treatment model that has been tested and refined by the Seneca Family of Agencies
  • Includes case studies on implementation and practice
  • Shares resources and tools for implementation

About the Author(s)

Robin Detterman, MEd, is Executive Director of School Partnerships at the Seneca Family of Agencies.

Jenny Ventura, MSW, is Director of Model Implementation and Assessment of Unconditional Education at the Seneca Family of Agencies.

Lihi Rosenthal, MEd, is the Executive Director of Education at the Seneca Family of Agencies.

Ken Berrick is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Seneca Family of Agencies.


"What I know for certain after 50 years in education: unconditional care is the cornerstone of who we are as educators. I have witnessed firsthand how the Seneca model can help us reclaim a radical hope for equity and justice for children and families-who come to our schools with the expectation that we open our arms and hearts and make a difference in their lives." -- Lynda Tredway, MA, Senior Associate for Leadership and Equity, Institute for Educational Leadership

"Unconditional Education starts with the premise that an effective public education is something all children deserve. This is not just a statement about the value of education and the role of equity, but a belief that as a society we depend on (i.e., need) an informed and talented citizenry. This vision of an inclusive educational commitment guides the design of curricula, instructional practices, social and behavior support procedures, and organizational systems. In this text, the authors braid current research-informed approaches to education with common-sense systems of staffing, data-management, and adaptation. The goal within Unconditional Education is not just to do all we can to get it 'right' from the beginning, but to incorporate procedures that will allow the functional adaptations needed to address foreseen challenges." -- Rob Horner, PhD, Professor, Special Education; Co-director, OSEP TA Center on PBIS, University of Oregon

"A must-read book for achieving breakthrough results in America's education system. Ensuring all children can succeed begins with deep cross-sector partnerships; integration across education, human services, and children's behavioral health; and believing in the promise of every child within the context of their school, family, and community. The authors understand that the evidence-based approach and values in child- and family-centered wraparound are core to the success we seek. Wraparound is not a 'program' to replicate for some children, but rather a system-wide orientation that gives every child the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential." -- Susan N. Dreyfus, President and CEO, The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities

Table of Contents

    Chapter 1. Introduction
    Chapter 2. Schools as Systems
    Chapter 3. Schools as Relational Networks
    Chapter 4. Schools as Centers for Behavioral Learning
    Chapter 5. Unconditional Education Framework
    Chapter 6. Coordination of Services
    Chapter 7. Assessment
    Chapter 8. Leadership and Strategic Planning
    Chapter 9. Implementation Challenges