A three-day summit on Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, strengthens California’s efforts to orient policy and practice around preventing and responding to child trauma.
By Parker Blackman
“We know that it makes sense to keep kids in school for $9,000 a year versus individuals in prison for $62,000 a year.”
This statement is the kind of thing you’d expect to hear from a leader in education or child welfare, right? What if I told you instead that the person who said this is a leader in the criminal justice system? In fact, no less than the Chief Justice for the California State Supreme Court Tani Cantil-Sakauye made this statement as part of a panel at a three-day summit held this month called: “Children Can Thrive: California’s Response to Adverse Childhood Experiences.”
From November 5 – 7 in San Francisco, more than 200 leaders from across the state and from various sectors – including health, medicine, education, child welfare and criminal justice – gathered for the first-ever state summit on the impacts of early childhood trauma.
Organized by The Center for Youth Wellness, the goal of the summit was to engage key stakeholders to learn more about the impacts of adverse childhood experiences and begin to think about how to build a comprehensive, integrated system for identifying, screening and treating adverse childhood experiences. While that’s a daunting task, the summit was a smashing success. It brought together leaders across sectors to learn from each other and begin to ask important questions about how we identify and respond to ACEs.
Here are just a few of the key issues that folks grappled with over the course of the summit:
- How do we get the various systems talking to one another? For example, if a child is acting out in pre-school, how can teachers be trained to not only identify symptoms of adverse childhood experiences, but who can they then connect with in order to get the child the help he/she needs and deserves?
- How do we talk about this issue in a way that will resonate with a broader audience? Adverse childhood experiences, or even toxic stress, are insider terms that have little to no resonance with the average Californian. And this issue is relevant to a wider audience as we found out at the conference. The Center for Youth Wellness released its groundbreaking report, “Hidden Crisis: Findings on Adverse Childhood Experiences in California” (HiddenCrisis_Report_1014), which found that nearly 62 percent of all Californians have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience such as abuse, neglect or ongoing household dysfunction. So we need to develop
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