One step closer to Trauma Informed Courts!
CA Senate unanimously approves ACEs reduction resolution
On August 18, the California Senate unanimously approved Concurrent Resolution (ACR) No. 155 to encourage statewide policies to reduce children’s exposure to adverse childhood experiences. As reported on ACEs Too High, the resolution is modeled after a Wisconsin resolution that encourages state policy decision-making to consider the impact of early childhood adversity on the long-term health and well being of its citizens. Since the resolution does not require California Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, the Senate’s approval is the final step in the process.
The resolution echoes the language of a Wisconsin bill passed earlier this year—the state’s policies should “consider the principles of brain development, the intimate connection between mental and physical health, the concepts of toxic stress, adverse childhood experiences, buffering relationships, and the roles of early intervention and investment in children…”
During the weeks after the Assembly passage and before the Senate action, advocates led by the Center for Youth Wellness built support for the resolution. Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, was the floor
manager for the bill. Here are her remarks made on the Senate floor just prior to the 34-0 vote:
“The early years of a child’s life are critical for proper development. Yet, far too many of California’s children grow up in harsh environments – exposed to violence, abuse, and poverty. It is not surprising that these experiences impact their health and development in severe and long-lasting ways.
Adverse childhood experiences are traumatic experiences that occur during childhood – such as abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction. Adverse childhood experiences can result in toxic stress – the strong, frequent, or prolonged activation of the stress response – disrupting the development of a child’s brain architecture and other organ systems.
The outcome is a lifetime of health consequences, compounded with inflated costs to the state’s juvenile justice, criminal justice, health care, and public health systems.”
The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being. The study is a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente’s Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego.
More than 17,000 Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) members undergoing a comprehensive physical examination chose to provide detailed information about their childhood experience of abuse, neglect, and family dysfunction. To date, more than 50 scientific articles have been published and more than100 conference and workshop presentations have been made.
The ACE Study findings suggest that certain experiences are major risk factors for the leading causes of illness and death as well as poor quality of life in the United States. It is critical to understand how some of the worst health and social problems in our nation can arise as a consequence of adverse childhood experiences. Realizing these connections is likely to improve efforts towards prevention and recovery.
Lawmakers around the country are beginning to take action to reduce the impact of childhood trauma—and the toxic stress it creates—on lifetime outcomes, particularly in education and health. Thelegislation being considered in Vermont to integrate screening for childhood trauma in health care, as reported recently on this site, is still percolating in the legislature. Another bill (H. 3528) being considered in Massachusetts seeks to create “safe and supportive schools” statewide. House Resolution 191 — which declares youth violence a public health epidemic and supports the establishment of trauma-informed education statewide — passed in Pennsylvania last spring and was ratified by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) at its annual meeting in August.
Prior to these efforts, the state of Washington passed a bill (H.R. 1965) in 2011 to identify and promote innovative strategies to prevent or reduce adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and to develop a public-private partnership to support effective strategies. In accordance with H.B. 1965, a group of private and public entities formed the Washington State ACEs Public-Private Initiative that is currently evaluating five communities’ ACEs activities. An APPI announcement about the launch of the project