Our Fighting ACEs Approach

Every child is filled with tremendous promise – and, as a community, we have a shared obligation to foster their potential.

Our Fighting ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Initiative, launched in 2016 through with support from Quantum Foundation, promotes a Public Health Approach to preventing and healing the effects of early adversity and trauma at the individual, family, community, and system levels.

The foundation of this approach is working with our partners to build healthier, safer, more nurturing families and communities — where all children have the opportunity to thrive.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are prevalent and in the absence of healthy, buffering relationships can lead to enduring harm. These experiences encompass situations like child sexual abuse, exposure to violence, or being raised in a home with a family member grappling with addiction or mental illness. When children experience multiple adverse events, their bodies undergo a surge of stress hormones, heightening their susceptibility to future health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, or depression.

Our overarching goal is to build caregiver and community capacity to create buffering relationships that promote Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs), the antidote to ACEs.

In close partnership with other community-wide efforts, such as Birth to 22, and the families and communities we serve, Fighting ACEs aims to stop the intergenerational cycle of abuse and violence; prevent mental and physical health concerns that develop as a result of ACEs and trauma; eliminate barriers to accessing prevention and early intervention activities; while building awareness and the capacity of each parent, caregiver, and professional in our community to effectively buffer ACEs and trauma.

We believe that it is every child’s right to grow up feeling safe and loved.

Our Graphic Guide to Building Trauma-Informed Communities

Prevention is Crucial

Unaddressed childhood adversity and trauma can profoundly affect children's well-being. The good news is that a child's developing brain is highly adaptable and seeks to heal. With the right environment and practices that foster resilience, the brain can reverse many stress-induced changes over time.

Early experiences shape lifelong health and wellness, making prevention and early intervention crucial. Supporting children early on can mitigate the lifelong impacts of adversity, fostering positive outcomes for individuals, families, and our entire community.

One of the primary goals is for providers, educators, caregivers, and child-serving systems to not only shift their practice (or ‘way of being’ with children and families) from a “What’s wrong with you?” to a “What happened to you?” approach—but going much deeper, using a prevention and healing-centered lens that focuses on changing the systems that keep adversity and trauma firmly in place.

The core of our approach is looking at how we, as a community, can address the pair of ACEs (Adverse Community Environments AND Adverse Childhood Experiences) to disrupt the cycles of adversity and trauma.

ACEs and Lifelong Health

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