States produce a bumper crop of ACEs bills in 2017—nearly 40 bills in 18 states

NCSLA 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.

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Comprehensive legislation introduced in U.S. Senate and House to address trauma

Sen. Heitkamp, Sen. Durbin, Christinia Bethel & Joe Barnhart (Left to right)

Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) at the Dec. 1, 2016 congressional briefing on addressing childhood trauma

The “Trauma-Informed Care for Children and Families Act” (S. 774H.R. 1757) was introduced on March 29 in the Senate by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) with co-sponsors Dick Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), and Cory Booker (D-NJ), and, for the first time in the House of Representatives, by Chicago Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-IL7). A version of the bill was introduced in the Senate in the final days of the last Congress. The bill’s sponsors were not successful in their efforts to gain bipartisan support in advance of its introduction.

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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signs resolution to encourage state policies and programs based on ACEs science

Utah Governor Gary Herbert

Utah Governor Gary Herbert speaks to press at the monthly conference in March

Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed into law on March 22 a resolution (H.C.R. 10) to encourage state policy and programs to incorporate the science of adverse childhood experiences to address “severe emotional trauma and other adverse childhood experiences” in children and adults and implement evidence-based interventions to increase resiliency. The resolution was approved unanimously on March 7 by the Republican-dominated legislature.

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Congressional briefing addresses public policy to improve response to ACEs

Room view with Senators Heitkamp & Durbin.jpg

In the final weeks of the 114th Congress, Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) welcomed her colleague Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) as a new host for the third and final briefing on addressing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). The December 1 briefing focused on public policies to improve coordination, prevention and response to childhood trauma.

ACEs comes from the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study and subsequent surveys that show that most people in the U.S. have at least one ACE, and that people with an accumulation of childhood adversities — including divorce, racism, living with an alcoholic parent, and physical abuse — have a higher risk of adult onset of chronic health problems such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, suicide, and alcoholism.

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

ABenningtonDavis

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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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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Closed adoption law separates California teen from her family

Jordan Rodriguez with Evan Low, California  Assemblymember __________________

By Jeremy Loudenback,  ChronicleOfSocialChange.org

Every holiday season, 17-year-old Jordain Rodriguez sends a note to two families she barely knows with a simple wish: She’d like to see her nieces and nephews.

Around the holidays and on each of the children’s birthdays, she writes emails to the two families who adopted her family members, asking for pictures, any recent updates and a chance to talk to them.

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