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Collect ACE Data & Identify Solutions cont.
- Collect annual data on the prevalence of ACEs
- Develop a thorough inventory of existing agency and community efforts to reduce ACEs and support resilience
- Support efforts to identify evidence-based practices and tools to identify and respond to ACEs
As adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) become increasingly understood as prevalent, significant health issues, researchers are using established public health tools and strategies to assess and respond to them. One such tool is an environmental scan, which is used to contextualize and systemize health knowledge for strategic planning purposes.
Environmental scans have been implemented in a variety of areas—mental health, nutrition, violence, and health and housing, etc.—to collect, organize, and analyze information on multiple facets of health issues and practices. Data collection efforts most often involve a review of community stakeholders and an assessment of existing community services and facilities using both quantitative (i.e., surveys) and qualitative (i.e., focus groups, interviews and document content analysis) methodologies. The findings support efforts to design health programs and policies uniquely tailored to the needs of communities, raise awareness of a health issue, and guide organizational and social reform.
The Illinois ACE Response Collaborative (the Collaborative) conducted a recent, comprehensive environmental scan of trauma-informed resilience building organizations. The Collaborative is a collection of organizations, agencies, and thought/practice leaders throughout Illinois who are “committed to expanding the understanding of the impact of childhood trauma… on the health and well-being of children and their communities.” The 2016 scan included 339 local, state, national and international programs addressing ACEs in multiple sectors (Table 1). Through online questionnaires and intuitional research, the Collaborative collected information on each program’s goals, structure, target audience, and any steps taken to become trauma informed.
Table 1. Organizations, agencies, and programs included in environmental scan, organized by focus and geographic area.
Recognizing the growing demand for ACE programming, the Collaborative implemented the environmental scan to identify and disseminate information on best “practices, policies and pathways to becoming trauma-informed” and strategies to integrate ACE science into programs. The scan highlighted promising elements of organizations that contribute to trauma-informed values (Table 2), barriers to trauma informed care (e.g. insufficient funding and training, high staff turnover, and the limited use of a public health approach), and best practice models adopted by organizations (e.g. Sanctuary Model, SELF, Therapeutic Crisis Intervention). Finally, the Collaborative summarized their findings in a set of recommendations and next steps to help guide organizations “along the continuum from awareness to full implementation of trauma-informed practices.”
Table 2. Promising organization elements identified by the 2016 Illinois ACE Response Collaborative Environmental Scan
The comprehensive inventory of best practices produced by the environmental scan supports and guides organizations as they translate trauma informed values into action. The Middlelayers CS3 follows the lead of the Collaborative by automatically and continuously amassing a list of organizations that provide trauma-informed care in local, state, and national settings. In this way, the CS3 is a tool to implement environmental scans of resilience building organizations in and across communities with greater regularity and a minimum expenditure of resources. By identifying existing services facilities, the CS3 supports the interests of multiple groups, including:
- Organizations providing similar services, but currently working in silos, by highlighting opportunities for inter-organizational collaboration leading to comprehensive support
- Families searching for resilience-building services by helping parents and caretakers locate and access resources in their communities to support trauma-exposed children and
- Researchers/learning communities (e.g. the Illinois ACEs Response Collaborative) by facilitating the identification of best practices, programs, and models