A scan done in March by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), through StateNet, of bills introduced in 2017 that specifically include adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in the text produced a surprising number of bills — close to 40 — in a 18 states. A scan done a year ago produced less than a handful. NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves state legislators and their staffs.
The shear volume of bills in so many states represents a promising trend—a growing interest by state policymakers in ACEs science. Most of the bills are still pending in state legislatures. A Utah resolution to promote ACEs science in state policy was signed by the state’s governor and a Virginia resolution that mentions ACEs in trauma-informed community networks was passed by the legislature. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed a bill to include ACEs science in that state’s Medicaid Family Home Visiting program.
The NCSL noted these trends from the search of bills that specifically mention ACEs. The bills:
—create task forces or study or review committees (whether for ACEs specifically or members/content included on a related topic, like foster care);—appropriate funds for ACEs prevention;
—require or encourage providers to use an ACE questionnaire or screening tool;
—support the development of pilot projects or initiatives for ACEs prevention;
—provide school resource officer (MA) or pre-K teacher (VT) with training related to ACEs.
ACEs Connection Network staff (with leads from ACN members and other sources) follow and report on bills that include references to trauma-informed policy (with and without a mention of ACEs) and broader bills that would have the effect of mitigating ACEs without a specific reference to trauma-informed approaches or ACEs. A summary of these bills is now being updated and will be available soon, as well as statutes that relate directly to these topics.