From the Ground Up: Five Steps We Can Take to Address Childhood Adversity in California
In a previous blog post, I talked about what California would be like without a deeply troubling public health crisis -- childhood adversity. By fostering the health, early childhood development, education, public safety and child welfare systems that address Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) head on, we can potentially save millions of dollars and improve the lives of countless people.
How can we make this vision a reality? In California, the fight against childhood adversity is a growing movement—one that engages stakeholders and partners from an array of sectors in finding solutions to this issue. We synthesized the perspectives of many of these stakeholders in our new policy report, “Children Can Thrive: A Vision for California’s Response to Adverse Childhood Experiences”. Below are five steps that we can start taking to help curb the negative consequences of ACEs in California:
- Help raise public awareness about unaddressed exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences. Become a champion in your sector. We all have a sphere of influence whether it is with our family, our community or our work. As a result, everyone can be champion and help to raise awareness about ACEs and what we need to do to build a healthier California.
- Build a movement in your community. Join ACEs Connection, which provides an online community of allies, advocates and experts to help support your efforts to respond to ACEs. You can join your community’s ACEs Connection group or start one in your county. You can also advocate for local data collection on ACEs. We now have data on the prevalence of ACEs in California. However, additional data at the local level can provide more in-depth information on the far-reaching impacts of ACEs in your community.
- Organize partnerships across diverse sectors to address systemic barriers to prevention and treatment of toxic stress. For example, CYW is convening a statewide cross-sector working group, comprising public and private stakeholders, to respond to ACES in California. Foster collaboration by building diverse advocacy coalitions to address the impacts of ACEs in your community.
- Help advance promising practices that establish evidence for clinical and community interventions. We can promote evidence-based interventions that address the harmful effects of ACEs and support efforts to increase funding for innovative and promising practices aimed at reducing the impacts of ACEs on children and families.
- Support and expand efforts to foster trauma-informed practices across health care, education, child welfare, and juvenile justice systems. Efforts are already underway across multiple sectors to build practices and systems that respond to the needs of children and families in a trauma-informed manner. For example, the San Francisco Department of Public Health is working to become the nation’s first trauma-informed public health department, beginning by training its 9,000-person staff on trauma-informed care. Advocate for your organization, institution, or system to integrate trauma-informed practices.
Learn more about the steps we can collectively take to address childhood adversity in California by reading: “Children Can Thrive: A Vision for California’s Response to Adverse Childhood Experiences.”