Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood. ACEs include experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect; witnessing violence in the home; and losing a family member. Children who experience ACEs do not always experience poor outcomes later in life; however the risks are exponentially greater.
Adverse Childhood Experiences have been linked to risky health behaviors, chronic health conditions, low life potential, and, early death. Family support programs throughout San Luis Obispo County work to reduce both the occurrence of ACEs and their harmful effects by developing community resilience, building protective factors in families, proving concrete supports during times of need, and educating service providers.
The Long-Term Health Effects of Childhood Trauma
Many of you are actively working to reduce trauma for children. When you do, you have an even larger effect on their life than you imagined. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) cause toxic stress that can prevent a child from learning, cause negative behaviors, make it difficult to make friends, and cause lasting health problems. Reducing trauma lowers a child's long-term risk of early pregnancy, substance abuse, depression, heart and liver disease, STDs, smoking, and intimate partner violence.
The CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations of childhood abuse and neglect and household challenges and later-life health and well-being. People often say that young children are not affected by trauma, neglect, and abuse. The ACE Study has shown that this is not true. For more information about health risks from trauma, watch this great TED Talk by California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris:
Learn more about ACEs
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website provides information, education, research and a guide to preventing ACEs. Access the ACEs page here.
ACEs Aware is an initiative led by the California Office of the Surgeon General and the Department of Health Care Services to give Medi-Cal providers training, clinical protocols, and payment for screening children and adults for ACEs. The ACEs Aware website includes an extensive digital resource library with information about screening and guidance for approaching treatment and providing trauma-informed care.
ACEs Connection is a social network that supports communities to accelerate the global ACEs science movement, to recognize the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in shaping adult behavior and health, and to promote trauma-informed and resilience-building practices and policies in all communities and institutions — from schools to prisons to hospitals and churches — to help heal and to develop resilience instead of traumatizing already traumatized people.
Join the SLO County ACEs Connection Community
Join the movement to prevent ACEs, heal trauma and build resilience by subscribing to the San Luis Obispo ACEs Connection. This community-in-practice online network is intended to promote child and family well-being by sharing resources, classes and trainings; increasing ACEs awareness; and strengthening SLO County community connections.
Family-serving professionals, parents and educators are welcome to join. This community is ideal for staying current on trauma-informed and resilience-building practices. All community subscribers can share news, research, and events by posting directly to the site. You'll receive alerts in your inbox when other post, as well.
Tips for Supporting Children
Download the Family Resource Center Directory and contact the appropriate Family Resource Center for help from an advocate or other staff member.
Family Resource Centers can help with non-medical needs too, such as food, clothing, and shelter.