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Local, state, and national ACE initiatives utilize proven strategies to increase awareness among individuals and communities and to disseminate trauma-informed training among providers. Examples of these education strategies and their implementation are detailed below.
Strengthening individual knowledge and skills
Parental Education Programs: Many organizations endow parents with the knowledge and skills to prevent, identify and treat exposure to trauma in children through parenting classes and workshops. The Family Center in Nashville, TN, for example, offers “a range of research-based parent education programs and in-home coaching to help facilitate positive parenting and break the cycles of trauma that negatively impact child development.” The Family Center programs include co-parenting seminars that teach parents strategies to minimize the impact of divorce for children and Positive Parenting skill building classes that provide practical information on parenting styles, behavior management, communication, child safety, handling stress, and child development. Parents also learn about resilience in the Nurturing Family program, which “educate parents on the healing power of safe, stable and nurturing relationships and how these reduce the severity of the risks of adverse childhood experiences.”
In the first two years, the Family Center educated more than 1,100 parents through classes offered in jails, treatment facilities, and the center itself. Most of these parents were living in extreme poverty and have ACE scores of 4 or above (71 percent had 4 +ACEs, 51 percent had 6+ ACEs, 6 percent had10 ACEs). By teaching parents about ACEs, the Family Center helps them to understand –maybe for the first time in their lives—their own trauma and how it contributed to their current well-being. According to Jennifer Martin, parent and community educator for the Family Center, teaching parents ACE science “Helps them normalize those emotions that nobody affirmed in them when those traumas happened to them.” In turn, realizing their own trauma better equips parents to protect their children.
Table 1. Examples of Individual Education Programs
|American Academy of Pediatrics, Kansas Chapter||Baby Buffer||Parents receive emails containing age-specific information on their baby’s development. The Baby Buffer coaches them to be caring, responsive, & consistent parents.|
|Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital (Memphis, TN)|
|Nurse Family Partnership||The program provides home visits by a registered nurse to first-time, low-income mothers from pregnancy until the child is two. Home visits are designed to teach mothers about positive health behaviors, child development and appropriate care, and maternal life course development.|
|Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin|
|Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)||PCIT is a proven parent-child treatment program for parents who have children with behavioral problems. PCIT focuses on promoting positive parent-child relationships and interactions, and teaching parents effective child management skills.|
Mass Media Campaigns: Mass media campaigns are often used to promote community education for their ability to reach large numbers of people and successfully change public attitudes. The Arizona ACEs Consortium is among the growing list of organizations disseminating information to the community by partnering with local public television and radio stations. Together with Eight, Arizona PBS Station, they have produced the PBS specials ‘Ask a Child Trauma Expert’ and ‘Forgiveness: ask an Arizona expert.’ During these shows, the public is encourages to call the studio and speak with experts in all areas of childhood trauma.
ACE Educator Programs: These programs train volunteers to become ACE educators who then offer free presentation to government agencies, organizations, or community groups. The Louisiana ACEs Initiative runs an ACE educator program that has trained 50 educators who, in turn, have given over 200 Understanding ACEs: Building Self-Healing Communities presentations to over 4500 participants. The Arizona ACEs Consortium also trains ACE educators through their train-the-trainer workshops. Through seven workshops, they have trained over 450 volunteer to present ACEs information to tens of thousands of Arizonians. As these examples demonstrate, ACE educator programs exponentially multiply the reach of single organizations to promote ACE community education across entire states and regions. ACE educators are also uniquely qualified to talk about share their knowledge with communities, as they, themselves, are members.
Table 2. Examples of Community Education Strategies
|The Illinois Childhood Trauma Coalition||The “Stories” Series||A statewide public media campaign to raise awareness of ACEs, the “Stories” Series is an innovative set of materials that identify and highlight warning signs resulting from childhood exposure to trauma and violence.|
|ACEs 360 Iowa||ACEs 360 Iowa partners with Iowa Public Television to showcase four true stories of the personal impact of ACEs and how community support can prevent and mitigate the effects of severe childhood stress.|
|Minnesota Communities Caring for Children (funded by The Blue Cross Blue Shield of MN Center for Prevention)|
|Tribal NEAR (Neurobiology, Epigenetics, ACEs & Resiliency) Science and Community Wisdom Project|
|The project is a one-year grass roots effort to build the capacity of the White Earth reservation communities to address ACEs. The three stages of the project include: Awareness (ACE interface presentations given to the community), Capacity Building (30 individuals will be trained as ACE Interface presenters) & Creating a Community Response (The reservation will work with facilitators to identify strategies and a community response for healing and building resilience).|
|Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina|
|The organization screened the documentary Resilience to over 1,500 people statewide.|
Training Curriculum: The National Child Traumatic Stress Network developed the Core Curriculum on Childhood Trauma (CCCT) as a tool to provide mental health clinicians with a functional trauma-informed knowledge, skills in “clinical reasoning, judgment, decision-making, and assessment,” and a “shared vocabulary for conceptualizing and talking about traumatic events.” Administered through problem-based learning, the curriculum consists of 12 Core Concepts for Understanding Traumatic Stress Responses in Children and Families that prepares providers to view trauma through a child’s perspective.
Since its inception in 2006, the CCCT has been successfully implemented in graduate programs (including 60 MSW and multiple clinical psychology graduate programs, field placements, and internships) and professional settings (child and adolescent psychiatry fellowships, child welfare agencies, and community mental health agencies for providers and supervisors) across the country. External evaluations of the curriculum support the use of the CCCT to build local and regional capacity for providing trauma-informed care.
Table 3. Examples of Provider Education Strategies
|Sidran Traumatic Stress Institute, the Trauma, Research, Education and Training Institute (TREATI), the Mental Health Departments of the States of Maine and New York||Risking Connection®: A Training Curriculum for Working with Survivors of Childhood Abuse|
|As the only basic trauma training curriculum specially designed for staff in public mental health settings; the training provides professionals with a philosophy and method for working with clients who are survivors of childhood abuse and trauma. The program offers organizations a pathway toward system-wide change to trauma-informed care.|
Oklahoma State Department of Health
Lemonade for Life
|Lemonade for Life trains home visit workers to address ACEs in at least five home visits.|
Center on Trauma and Children at the University of Kentucky
The Child and Adolescent Trauma Treatment and Training Institute
|The Institute conducts trauma-informed care trainings for public school staff and other community partners. It disseminates information on trauma-informed, evidence-based practices to schools and other advocacy groups across the state.|
The Middlelayers Comprehensive Social Support System (CS3) app offers a new strategy for increasing ACE awareness and developing functional trauma-informed knowledge among parents, families, communities, and providers. Parents and other individuals using the app can take the ACE survey, assess their risk factors, and learn about ACE science in the context of their own lives. Community members discover their ability to mitigate trauma as they are empowered to become tutors, mentors, and offer other supports to children and adolescents. Finally, providers using the CS3 to connect with individuals will be able to access ACE prevalence data and develop an understanding of how their services contribute to community and individual resilience.