Oregon psychiatrist testifies before Senate Finance Committee on the impact of childhood adversity and toxic stress on adult health

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Appearing before the powerful Senate Finance Committee  in Washington, DC, recently, Dr. Maggie Bennington-Davis, psychiatrist and chief medical officer of Health Share Oregon, devoted a significant portion of her testimony to  the role of adversity and toxic stress during childhood on adult health, both physical and emotional. She explained how Health Share Oregon—that state’s largest Medicaid coordinated care organization—examined the people with the costliest health bills and found them to have experienced high levels of childhood adversity. She told the senators that the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study), first published in 1998 by Drs. Vincent Felliti and Robert Anda, found exactly this correlation.

At the April 28 hearing titled “Mental Health in America: Where are we now?,”* Bennington-Davis addressed the need to look to people’s experiences in childhoods to improve health, knowing that mental illness and substance use disorders, along with other

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Troubled moms and dads learn how to parent with ACEs

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A father in county jail is ordered to take a parenting class, but isn’t too enthusiastic about it. As part of the class, he learns about the ACE Study, and does his own ACE score.

“Oh my god!” he announces to the class. “I have 7 ACEs.” His mother’s an alcoholic. His dad’s been in and out of jail. He himself started dealing drugs at age 11, and doing drugs at 14.

“I’ve got two kids at home experiencing the same things I did,” he says. The light bulb goes on.

A few days after a woman who’s ordered by the court to take parenting classes learns about her ACE score, she quits smoking.

“I’ve been smoking for years,” she tells the class. “My ACE score was one of the reasons.” She quit, she says, because she decided smoking wasn’t helping her children.

Another parent of three kids was saddened when he did his ACE score.

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When teen dating violence goes online

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By Jennifer White, Senior Attorney for Legal Programs, Futures Without Violence

This year, a film named Audrie and Daisy was part of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the Sundance Film Festival and will be available on Netflix later this year. The film tells the stories of two high school girls in different parts of the country whose kinship is the result of a common tragedy: both girls were sexually assaulted by boys they thought were friends.

Both girls were tortured by their communities and schools, particularly over social media. Both girls tried to take their own lives. The film highlights our failures as a nation to protect our young people, it illustrates a fundamental misapprehension about gender-based violence, it demonstrates our inclination to blame victims rather than believe them, and it vividly depicts the power and pervasiveness of social media as a weapon.

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Rural Oregon county integrates ACEs screening in school-based trauma-informed health centers

The Combined Child & Family and School-Based Clinical Team. From left: Ratchet; Elizabeth Fitzgerald, clinical supervisor SBHC; Kelsey Dunlap, clinician; Amy Richardson, clinician; Misty Groom, Safe-School assessor; Tracey Sanders, administrative assistant; Janice Garceau, program manager; Maryanne McDonnell, clinical supervisor; Jill Montecucco, clinician; Marie Jackson, SBHC clinician; Jodi Love, clinician; Jaymie Kaczmarek, SBHC clinician; Jennifer Noble, SBHC clinician; Tracey Colocicco, clinician; Deb Stone, clinician.

The Combined Child & Family and School-Based Clinical Team. From left: Ratchet; Elizabeth Fitzgerald, clinical supervisor SBHC; Kelsey Dunlap, clinician; Amy Richardson, clinician; Misty Groom, Safe-School assessor; Tracey Sanders, administrative assistant; Janice Garceau, program manager; Maryanne McDonnell, clinical supervisor; Jill Montecucco, clinician; Marie Jackson, SBHC clinician; Jodi Love, clinician; Jaymie Kaczmarek, SBHC clinician; Jennifer Noble, SBHC clinician; Tracey Colocicco, clinician; Deb Stone, clinician.

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For the last two years, nearly all students referred for mental health services in seven school-based health centers in Deschutes County, OR, have taken the 10-question adverse childhood experiences (ACE) survey.

It didn’t take long to realize why this was good idea.

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Cherokee Point Elementary School youth leaders learn about Child Abuse Prevention month

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Jennifer Hossler and the youth leaders of Cherokee Point Elementary School in the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego, CA.

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Some days at work are better than others. A recent visit to Cherokee Point Elementary School in the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego, CA, was one of the best days I’ve had in awhile!  I had the chance to speak to a small group of youth leaders from the third, fourth and fifth grades. As a representative of the Chadwick Center for Children & Families, I came to talk with them about Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) month, which is coming up in April.  We are collaborating with Cherokee Point in an effort to bring awareness to the community about CAP month, resilience, and protective factors.

Admittedly, I was nervous!  Talking to kids about child abuse is hard, and to be honest, can be a little

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How a diversion program in South L.A. hopes to break the cradle-to-prison pipeline

By CYS opened the Everychild Restorative Justice Center in 2012.Jeremy Loudenback, ChronicleOfSocialChange.org

When Karina Cabrera first sat down with Angelica,* a 15-year-old enrolled in a juvenile diversion program at Centinela Youth Services (CYS), the case manager remembers the youth’s icy stare and clipped answers.

Just weeks before, Angelica had been hauled in by members of the Los Angeles Police Department after she was caught trying to steal a shirt at Target.

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Metropolitan Family Services addresses ACEs across metropolitan Chicago

(l to r) Robert Augustin,  Katharine Bensinger and Maria Andrino

(l to r) Robert Augustin, Katharine Bensinger and Maria Andrino

Katharine Bensinger founded a program called Parenting Fundamentals at an agency called Community Counseling Centers of Chicago nearly two decades ago. The program had been providing parenting education classes to low-income people for almost a decade when Bensinger attended a speech by Dr. Robert Anda, co-principle investigator of the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study.

“I flipped out,” she says. “It was putting a construct to what I already knew, which was that abuse affects children and young adults emotionally and physically. … When I heard about this research, it was a gift, a tool to help people. Because it was research-based, it had credibility.”

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