California child trauma advocates eye policy impact

Anna Sutton, Yolo County Maternal Child Adolescent Health; Nadine Burke Harris, Center for Youth Wellness; Gail Kennedy, ACEs Connection Network

(l to r) Anna Sutton, Yolo County Maternal Child Adolescent Health; Nadine Burke Harris, Center for Youth Wellness; Gail Kennedy, ACEs Connection Network ___________________________________________

By Jeremy Loudenback, ChronicleOfSocialChange.org

Last week, a coalition of California child trauma advocates gathered in San Diego to advance a platform that seeks create policy change in the state and capitalize on a shifting climate around criminal-justice reform.

The meeting was convened by the San Francisco-based Center for Youth Wellness (CYW), a pediatric clinic that has emerged as an organizing force in the effort to make systems better address early childhood adversity. The Center’s work is grounded in the findings of the landmark 1997 Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Study that connected early experiences of trauma during childhood and subsequent health issues later in life.

The San Diego gathering comes on the heels of the first summit on ACEs, held last year in San Francisco. After that meeting, an ACEs Policy Working Group met throughout the year with the goal of developing a common policy agenda that will help support the push for an increased focus on child trauma across many different child-serving sectors including health, juvenile justice, child welfare, early childhood and education, as well as within business, nonprofit and philanthropic communities.

As part of that work, CYW in September released the Children Can Thrive: A Vision for California’s Response to Adverse Childhood Experiences report, which described broad recommendations for preventing and responding to child trauma. On Thursday, CYW unveiled the following seven strategies they hope will guide similar efforts across the different sectors over the next three years:

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$2.2 Million initiative highlights trauma policy push

By Jeremy Loudenback, ChronicleOfSocialChange.org

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Jennifer Jones

This month, the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities will kick off a multi-million initiative designed to help service providers translate scientific findings around child trauma, toxic stress and developmental brain science into public policy.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Canada-based Palix Foundation have committed $2.2 million over three years for the Alliance, a powerful membership group of youth service providers, to sub-grant to 15 participating nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and Canada interested in leading child trauma-based reform. All sites will be funded $50,000 for two years, and a developmental evaluation will be conducted within the three-year period.

The “Change in Mind: Applying Neurosciences to Revitalize Communities” initiative is one of several recent efforts aimed at increasing the policy impact of trauma-related research.

According to Change in Mind Director Jennifer Jones, the 15 organizations will serve as leaders in their communities and across the public sector on how to apply trauma-related practices. While each organization may have a different set of policy and advocacy goals, they will share successful strategies with each other and participate with an outside organization to evaluate effectiveness. The initiative kicks off this month in Chicago with an organizing conference that will help develop collective goals to accompany the specific policy priorities of each site.

The moment is ripe, Jones said, for nonprofit service providers to take a leading role in encouraging adoption of trauma-informed practices.

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Calling for reform, President Obama notes the impact of incarceration on families

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By Melinda Clemmons

From a cellblock at El Reno Federal Penitentiary in Oklahoma on July 16, President Barack Obama, the first sitting president to visit a federal prison, spoke of his hope that his proposed criminal justice reforms will, among other positive outcomes, “perhaps most importantly, keep families intact.”

His historic visit to El Reno capped a week in which the president sought to “shine a spotlight” on the U.S. criminal justice system, which he said in a speech July 14 at the NAACP convention in Philadelphia is “particularly skewed by race and by wealth, a source of inequity that has ripple effects on families and on communities and ultimately on our nation.”

The day before his appearance at the NAACP convention, Obama granted clemency to 46 inmates, most of whom were incarcerated for non-violent offenses under mandatory minimum sentencing laws. In his speech in Philadelphia, the president said the mandatory sentencing laws for non-violent offenses are in large part responsible for the quadrupling of the number of people behind bars in the U.S. since 1980. He is proposing those mandatory minimum sentences be reduced or eliminated, allowing judges to use discretion in sentencing.

Obama noted that while the U.S. spends $80 billion every year to incarcerate 2.2 million people, there are also “costs that can’t be measured in dollars and cents.”

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Safeguarding children of arrested parents in Alameda, CA

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By Melinda Clemmons, Chronicle of Social Change

Excited to be home from school, five-year-old Luna Garcia was playing with her little brothers in the front room of her apartment, her grandmother in another room, when she heard a hard knock on the door.

“I wasn’t allowed to answer the door because who lets a little kid answer the door?” she said to a crowd of nearly 100 law enforcement professionals, child welfare workers, advocates, and others last month in Oakland, CA.

Tears welled up in her eyes as Garcia, now 16, recalled how she and her brothers stood and watched as police officers broke down the door of their apartment, ran to her bedroom and then her brothers’, turning over their beds, breaking them in the process.

They were looking for her dad, Garcia told the group, gathered on May 18 for the fourth annual convening of the Alameda County Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership (ACCIPP).

Not finding her father, the officers left. Police officers would again break down the door of her apartment in search of her father while she was home three more times over the next eight years.

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Kamala Harris’ Bureau of Children’s Justice takes shape

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California Attorney General Kamala Harris flanked by child advocates during Feb. 12 press conference announcing new Bureau of Children’s Justice.

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By Daniel Heimpel

On Feb. 12, California Attorney General Kamala Harris held a press conference in Los Angeles to announce the creation of a Bureau of Children’s Justice. Its goals range from reducing truancy and combatting childhood trauma, to improving the foster care and juvenile justice systems.

While the mandate Harris outlined was broad, members of the bureau’s new staff said that this was by design. Aside from a handful of specific issues, the office is currently in reconnaissance mode, gathering ideas on improvements to education, juvenile justice and child welfare that it can champion.

“We aim to work with a wide range of stakeholders to find accountability and enforcement gaps,” said Jill Habig, a special assistant attorney general leading the bureau, “which is why we invited over 150 stakeholders to convenings held across the state following the launch of the bureau.”

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CA Dept of Corrections wants OK to strip-search children visiting parents in prison

Nagarjun Kandukuru Strip search Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Nagarjun Kandukuru
Strip search
Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg, South Africa. _______________________________

By Dinky Manek Enty

For the more than 2.7 million children in the United States with an incarcerated parent, the love and connection a visit can bring are tempered by the fear of driving past razor wire, passing through metal detectors, and being subjected to the scrutiny of uniformed guards.

But soon, some children may face an even more disturbing intrusion. Under new regulations recently proposed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), visitors will be subjected to canine searches in an effort to prevent

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Foster youth intern lands White House internship; working to make foster care trauma-informed

Amnoni Myers takes the stage at the 2014 Angels in Adoption celebration in Washington D.C. [CCAI photo]

Amnoni Myers takes the stage at the 2014 Angels in Adoption celebration in Washington D.C. [CCAI photo]

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By Daniel Heimpel

This fall, I traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s (CCAI) Angels in Adoption celebration.

The event, which draws stars from entertainment and D.C.’s political elite, always fills the cavernous Ronald Reagan Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, providing a suitable stage for some real heroes.

One of these was Amnoni Myers, a 26-year-old member of CCAI’s 2014 Foster Youth Internship

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How CA provides children’s mental health services under Katie A. settlement, part 2: home-based services

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By Melinda Clemmons

This is part two of a two-part look at mental health services mandated by the settlement of Katie A. v Bonta, a class-action lawsuit brought against the State of California over its lack of community-based mental health services for youths.

Having been removed from his parents’ home six months earlier, eight-year-old Michael didn’t need another disruption in his life.

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How CA provides children’s mental health under Katie A. settlement

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 8.03.53 PMBy Melinda Clemmons

This is part one of a two-part look at mental health services mandated by the settlement of Katie A. v Bonta, a class-action lawsuit brought against the State of California over its lack of community-based mental health services for youths.

Michael’s biological parents were working hard to get him back, but they needed more time.

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New study shows child abuse, neglect in CA is 3x higher than reported

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By Daniel Heimpel

A reckoning is coming in child protection.

On December 2, the new and increasingly influential Children’s Data Network partnered with the California Child Welfare Indicators Project to release a slew of studies showing that one in seven of all California babies born in 2006 and 2007 had been reported for abuse or neglect by age five.

This is nearly three times annual rates of child abuse reports in California.

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