ACEs and Childhood Trauma

ACEs Connection is a social network that accelerates the recognition of the impact that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) have on shaping adult behavior and health and uses this knowledge to reform all communities and institutions. Particularly useful is the daily email bulletin provided by the organization.  The Resources page on the site has links to articles, frameworks, trainings, and toolkits that are all dedicated to supporting individuals seeking to learn more about ACEs. The Roadmap to Resilience Toolkit is of interest and provides sample mission/vision statements, surveys and evaluations, and memoranda of understanding (MOUs).

ACEs Too High is a news site that consolidates reports on research about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), including developments in epidemiology, neurobiology, and the biomedical and epigenetic consequences of toxic stress. The site is particularly useful for anyone seeking a primer on ACEs and the research and development work being done on a national scale to address childhood trauma. The Resources page provides access to studies completed by the Centers for Disease Control on ACEs, background papers on different areas of science that interface with ACEs and links to online courses and presentations.

The Center for Youth Wellness (CYW) is part of a national effort dedicated to the improvement of health in children and adolescents exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). The Center is especially known for their ACE Study, one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess connections between chronic stress caused by early adversity and later-life health.  The Center’s work in ACEs aims to serve as a national model for addressing exposure to ACEs, with the goal of transforming the way medicine responds to the challenges facing children, especially disadvantaged youth.

Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child operates under the leadership of Dr. Jack Shonkoff, who through the Center has brought credible science to bear on public policy affecting young children.  The Center is composed of a multidisciplinary team who share the goal of producing substantially larger impacts on the learning capacity, health, and socioeconomic mobility of young children facing adversity.  Particularly useful are the Center’s “InBrief” publication on The Impact of Early Diversity on Children’s Development and their resources on executive functioning. The Center also has comprehensive resources that explain toxic stress including short videos and accessible readings.

The Child Trauma Academy (CTA) is a not-for-profit organization in Houston, Texas that works to improve the lives of high-risk children through direct-service, research, and education. CTA’s “translational neuroscience” work has resulted in a range of innovative programs in therapeutic child protection and education. The site provides instant access to free videos on early childhood brain development, the role of poverty, and a series on understanding trauma and maltreatment in children.

The Devereux Center for Resilient Children (DCRC) promotes social and emotional development, fosters resilience, and builds skills for school and life success in children birth through school age, while also promoting resilience among the adults who care for these children. DCRC’s website provides a comprehensive curriculum on how to promote the socio-emotional well-being and resilience of vulnerable children and their families through the Your Journey Together curriculum. The site also has a section on student specific-resilience for school staff, parents, and teachers. It provides links to webinars, workshops, newsletters, conference information, professional development, and assessment tools. While DCRC provides information and research on the national scale, the site allows you to access state-specific ways that DCRC resources are being implemented.

The Illinois Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics’ PROTECT (Promoting Resiliency of Trauma-Exposed Communities Together) initiative aims to mitigate toxic stress and trauma in early childhood. PROTECT enables statewide and systemic access to resources directed at trauma-exposed families and communities with hopes that their engagement will build resilience. Of interest is their Trauma Toolbox for Primary Care developed for those unfamiliar with ACEs. PROTECT efforts include a website with training materials, messaging modules, coaching guidelines, policy recommendations and more.  Their work around ACEs, trauma, and toxic stress provides media toolkits and resources for both families and providers.

Children’s Mental Health

The Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership (Partnership) enlists individuals from state agencies, advocacy groups, universities and professional clinical networks committed to improving the scope, quality, and access of mental health programs, services and supports for children. The Partnership believes that a comprehensive and coordinated approach to healthy social and emotional development, along with preventative measures, early intervention, and treatment, will collectively contribute to the betterment of Illinois children. The Partnership’s publications are particularly useful and show how schools can best meet and address the mental health needs of students. The site also offers resources on family support.

The Lurie Center for Childhood Resilience, based in Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, is comprised of a multidisciplinary team that focuses on advancing innovative and evidence-based strategies and solutions to address comprehensive mental health reform and build a trauma-informed city.  One important component of their work school mental health reform through which the center works with school staff, clinicians, administrators, and community organizations to build better access to mental health services for children and adolescents. The site also contains significant information regarding their trainings, research projects, and pre-professional program work in schools.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities. Of particular interest to educators and school officials is their page on School and Campus Health which is SAMHSA’s effort to support schools in promoting mental health and substance use prevention in schools and campuses to provide safe learning environments. The page includes links to grants, information specific to educators, students and parents, and publications and resources targeted to school and campus health.

Networks and Coalitions

The Illinois ACE Response Collaborative (Collaborative) is an initiative of the Health and Medicine Policy Group (HMPG).  HMPG’s mission is to promote social justice and challenge inequities in health and health care. The Collaborative’s focus is to support those who experience a high level of adversity in their lives. The work is undertaken through the development of education, policies, and resources, while simultaneously developing strategies to reduce the frequency and impact of ACEs.  Another key piece of the Collaborative’s work is their preventative focus to ensure adverse experiences are not transmitted from one generation to the next. The Collaborative’s website includes links to numerous resources, including videos, webinars, and how-to’s.

The Illinois Childhood Trauma Coalition (Coalition) is a network of 65 private, public, clinical, research, advocacy and educational institutions, committed to the prevention and treatment of childhood trauma.  The Coalition’s projects range from efforts within the court system to workforce development. Of particular interest is their childhood trauma public awareness campaign, “Look through their Eyes.” This component provides easily accessible videos and resources. The Coalition’s website also includes tools for learning about trauma and how to discuss it and extensive lists and contacts for Illinois-specific service providers, associations, networks, advocacy groups, government agencies and foundations.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) works to raise the standard of care and improve access to services for traumatized children, their families and communities through the establishment of treatment and service centers, resource development and dissemination, and national education and training efforts. Their website is user-friendly and includes links to treatment approaches and resources. It also categorizes its own work products and those of others not only by title, but by audience and language. Their “Child Trauma Toolkit for Educators” is of particular interest.

Trauma Informed/Sensitive Schools

The American Psychological Association (APA) has developed a Resilience Guide for Parents and Teachers which is designed to address and develop resilience in pre-school, elementary, middle school, and high-school students.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is a leading national organization that advances the development of academic, social and emotional competence for all students. The organization’s mission is to help make evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) an integral part of education from preschool through high school. Of specific interest is CASEL’s Collaborating Districts Initiative where CASEL has engaged in a multiyear project focused on implementing social and emotional learning on a districtwide, systemic basis. Another school-specific resource that CASEL provides is its after-school programming which focuses on the integral link between social and emotional learning and employability.

Compassionate Schools is an initiative that provides training, guidance, referral, and technical assistance to schools wishing to adopt the Compassionate Schools model. The model is designed to benefit all students but also focuses on supporting students who have been chronically exposed to stress and trauma. While the site includes numerous resources, including training presentations and videos, their publications are particularly noteworthy. The Compassionate Schools Pilot Project Report is of great value to educators seeking an introduction to their approach.

The Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative’s (TLPI) and their Trauma Sensitive Schools website are highly recommended. TLPI’s mission is to ensure that children traumatized by exposure to family violence and other adverse childhood experiences succeed in school.  To accomplish this mission, TLPI engages in a host of strategies including providing support to schools to become trauma sensitive environments.  They have created a free, web-based two-volume series called Helping Traumatized Children Learn.  Volume one is “Report and Policy Agenda” while volume two is devoted to “Creating and Advocating for Trauma-Sensitive Schools.”  The TLPI website also includes a number of clear and useful videos.