Helping Children Thrive: It Takes All of Us
Whether as parents, legislators, public health advocates or donors, we all have a role to play in combatting childhood adversity, and we can build a healthier and stronger California by working together.
In my last blog post, I discussed the collective first steps we can take to address the effects of childhood adversity and ensure a California where all children can thrive. These solutions are part of the key recommendations that can be found in, “Children Can Thrive: A Vision for California’s Response to Adverse Childhood Experiences,” a policy report by the Center for Youth Wellness that includes perspectives of hundreds of experts.
While advancing trauma-informed care across systems and developing practices for early screening and interventions are critical, equally important are the diverse stakeholders necessary to advance this movement.
In the past, large systems like health, early childhood development, juvenile justice and child welfare have worked in isolation. But no single entity can solve these problems alone. We must break out of our historic silos and identify opportunities for cooperation. We can create a shared vision for the future to ensure that there is alignment in advancing towards a common goal, improve information sharing between sectors, and develop a set of shared metrics that can be used across sectors to craft a collective definition of success.
Public-private partnerships between government, nonprofit organizations and philanthropy are also critical to address the harmful effects of ACEs. Each institution has important contributions to make to advance the goal. For example, the state legislature can create policies to institutionalize trauma-informed care, ACE screenings and intervention practices with supportive health reimbursement mechanisms. And public agencies can convene important players together, hold these bodies accountable, and model what a trauma-informed organization could look like.
At the same time, nonprofits working with children and families need to be supported in developing innovative programs. The direct experience from these advocacy and service organizations can ensure policies reflect the best thinking and innovations of the field.
Philanthropy also has an important role to play. This sector often bridges ideas, concept development, implementation and measurement. It supports innovation, particularly the development of new ideas and solutions that may not have been otherwise recognized.
As we think about building a healthier California for the future, we can’t think of a more important constituency than the youth who are our next generation of leaders. The students of Leadership High School, a local San Francisco high school, are partnering with CYW to measure the effects of toxic stress on teens and demonstrating how our young people are not only powerful communicators but also critical agents of change.
Families also play a transformative role for children who have experienced ACEs. And we must invest more towards parents and caregivers and remove the stigma of parenting support, so that more parents will take advantage of available tools and resources to build healthy families.
Download and read the roadmap to addressing childhood adversity in California here: “Children Can Thrive: A Vision for California’s Response to Adverse Childhood Experiences.”