Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
The CDC-Kaiser Permanente ACEs study included more than 17,000 middle class Americans in San Diego from 1995-1997. Nearly 2/3 of adults reported at least one ACE.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) have a significant impact on health, quality of life, economics and education. Research shows ACEs are common, they affect all income levels, and their impact on health and well-being is significant. (See What Are ACEs and How Do They Impact Health?)
Ten adverse childhood experiences are categorized in three areas: abuse, neglect and household challenges.
“The child may not remember, but the body remembers.”–from the documentary Resilience: The Biology of Stress & The Sciene of Hope
While ACEs significantly increase the likelihood of disease and illness, there are opportunities for prevention and mitigation. Research shows that the presence of one stable, caring adult in a child’s life is key to building resilience.
Together we as a community can work to prevent ACEs and mitigate their impact for a healthy, thriving and economically strong Wake County.
ACEs Resilience in Wake County Initiative
AHA convenes the ACEs Resilience in Wake County Initiative, a multi-sector, community-driven movement to address and prevent ACEs, and build resilience for all in Wake County. AHA hired ACEs Resilience Project Coordinator Lisheema Barr in August 2018 to coordinate partners’ work around common shared goals.
AHA and partners Wake County and YMCA of the Triangle launched a Wake County discussion on ACEs and building resilience in April 2017; since then the ACEs Resilience in Wake Advisory Board and Steering Committee have formed, with Work Groups stemming from the Steering Committee, to drive a community-wide effort around preventing future ACEs and building resilience to lessen the impacts of ACEs and trauma. These groups are comprised of leaders from numerous local and state organizations, as well as individuals, who want to improve health and well-being in Wake County.
- Finding Your ACE Score (ACEs Connection)
- Finding Your Resilience Score (ACEs Connection)
- ACEs, Resilience and Protective Childhood Experience Screening (Durham, NC ACEs Task Force–The Durham County ACEs Task Force had a committee of behavioral health providers and a Duke pediatrician who reviewed multiple screens before reaching consensus on screening tools to be offered to patients in the health department’s pre-natal clinic. It will be used to triage patients.)
- Understanding What Resilience Is
According to the Facilitator’s Guide to Discussion about Resilience, “Resilience is the ability to thrive, adapt and cope, despite tough and stressful times…Resilience is not an innate characteristic, but rather a skill that can be taught, learned and practiced.”
- Resilience Film
- Wake Network of Care: Comprehensive directory to locate services related to mental and behavioral health, addiction, advocacy, support, housing, and more.
- iThrive app and Youth Thrive GIS Map: Created by Wake County youth, map identifies the location, name, and type of each organization providing youth services, including health resources, recreation, faith-based, food access, etc.
- North Carolina Medical Journal (March 2018): Addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences in North Carolina
Each article is available as a PDF.
- The Kaleidoscope Project Best Practices
- ACEs Too High
- ACEs Connection
Resources for Community Members
Resources for Helpers and Providers
Resources for Educators
Resources for Policy Makers
Communities Addressing ACEs: Model Programs
Building Resilience: Techniques & Interventions
ACEs can be mitigated by building resilience skills, having a key relationship with a supportive adult and simple ways to alter space and experience. Below are some resources.
Creating Places that Help Trauma-sensitive Kids
Thanks to the Public School Forum of North Carolina for these tips.
- Create a cool-down or calm-down space where kids who are having “big” feelings can go for time to themselves and getting out of the situation causing these feelings. This space might be a cozy corner with some special sensory items to play with to soothe and redirect.
- Create a welcoming space at the entrance (whether a school or building) with welcoming signage or décor, and train staff at front office on positive and warm, welcoming techniques when interacting with students and families.
- Foster relationships. Teachers can build positive relationships by greeting students each morning by name as they enter the classroom and asking how they are doing/feeling as a daily check-in. Having more adults in hallways, cafeterias and playground who interact in a warm and positive way is also helpful.
- Communicate the day’s schedule and transition periods well, post the schedule in a highly visible place, and review it each day. Let students know when transitions are and if there are any parts of the day that are out of the norm so they know what to expect.
- Be strengths-based. Look for students doing positive work and behavior and give them specific praise for good things you see. Remind them of their strengths regularly.
- Trauma-informed Approaches