National Mandate for ACE Testing for ALL New Parents!

It was about three years ago when I first heard about ACEs on NPR.  It truly legitimized everything I had written about family and relationships with the outside world.  I read The Teenage Brain and Childhood Disrupted.  We are making huge strides in sharing the scientific findings about childhood trauma in as many avenues as we can it appears.  Yet, I have a deep sadness at times that ACEs is an after the fact scorecard of traumas inflicted on our children.

My most significant moment in reading through our caring community of ACE Connection came for me when I read about the Pediatric practice in Portland, OR.  They came up with the brilliant idea of giving the ACE Test to parents at pre and post natal visits.  Of course you can't really have a cogent and helpful discussion with a very young child...and maybe you can at a certain age...but the impact of talking with parents BEFORE they inflicted traumas they may have known themselves was revolutionary I thought.

With all the distracting behavior of our government and foolish talk about healthcare...why is no one SCREAMING about the simplicity of this idea.  I continually read about the insane costs associated with children who fall into the social services ocean.  Certainly those expenses are necessary to catch those in need as early as possible.  Knowing that hurt people...hurt people...and happy people...help people...why are we not more focused on prevention?

I started writing books about family 10 years ago because teachers told me to.  They said they had never seen a 9 year old child watch over other children on a daily basis...and the younger brother did as well as a 7 year old.  Ask any teacher at ANY level of education and they will tell you it is getting worse EVERY year.  If you add trauma to the lack of respect, kindness and connection that kids are facing these days...no wonder we have seen bullying become a national epidemic.  Resilience is taking its place at the forefront of counseling, but what if we were to focus NATIONALLY on preventing trauma by addressing the possibility of a mandate of ACE Testing at the Pediatric level? 

I will speak at any forum about this subject.  We are wasting precious time not doing it today.  The current discourse in D.C. simply shows how far away our government is from paying attention to the revolutionary subject that this is.  If you want to reduce healthcare costs...keep trauma from happening!  Maybe it's because I am 67 years old and feel the clock ticking...but things are not happening fast enough to PREVENT trauma.  In a discussion about ACEs with a Foster Care case worker here in Tennessee this week, she said there were currently 7800 children in foster care here...and growing steadily EVERY DAY!  That number stunned me...

I love to speak about ACEs at schools and even corporations that are waking up to the fact that happier people at home...make better employees at work.  But again...it is dealing with issues that happened already.  Perhaps we can find a way to start teaching more social skills like respect and kindness to help with that effort.  But every time I do...I wish I could use that time and energy to change the national focus on ACEs to prevention.  Does anyone else feel that way and need a passionate partner that knows how to touch hearts?  I know things are changing...and I am thrilled.  My book The ACEs Revolution! is selling briskly on Amazon these days...it is light on science...gives a good picture of the impact on all of us about ACEs...Dr. Felitti sent me a nice note about that...but it is HEAVY on prevention.  Saying and doing the things necessary to raise happy and confident children needs to be talked about at the national level. 

And for the sake of our future children...why not buy some iPads for all the pediatric practices in the country with The ACE TEST on it and make it mandatory to give the test to ALL new parents!  I can't think of a better and more effective way of turning the tide of drowning children that will suffer tomorrow from the trauma caused by...hurt people.

 

 

 

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Jane Stevens posted:

Hi, Daniel:  I'm sorry that important programs in your state are being defunded. There are states with Republican governors, such as Wisconsin and Tennessee, that clearly recognize that ACEs science is apolitical and acultural....i.e., that this is science, to your point, that applies to every human, and that everybody who's interested in a better future for our children should learn about this, and begin implementing practices based on ACEs science in their individual, family, organizational and community lives.

The governors in those states have very advanced ACEs initiatives, Wisconsin in particular. Check out Fostering Futures. btw, the First Lady of Wisconsin, Tonette Walker, who was one of the co-founders of Fostering Futures, is inviting spouses of governors from all states to a meeting in the Fall to provide information about the amazing strides they've taken in Wisconsin, with the hope of inspiring all  states to engage in the ACEs movement.

Cheers, Jane

Hi Jane,

Thanks for the edification on Republican Governors that "recognize" ACEs.  And, as it appears, ACEs is a bipartisan "recognition" as well. Bravo!   That being said, and which is all well and good, there is more to the picture than mere recognition of the issue. As I am sure you are well aware, the trajectory of ACEs is a path that not only has consequences in emotional health but also the health, economic, and educational areas of people's lives.  On one hand you have Republican Governor wives promoting ACEs and the application...i.e., that is to your point. And on the other hand you have a current administration and legislators i.e., Republican in thought, value and belief that propose cutting, defunding, and criticizing (de-valuing)  public services that are currently in place that help in the very areas that affect people's lives who are suffering the very real consequences of ACEs. One can only hope those Republican Governor wives can have some influence over what their husbands and this current Administration has in store and wants to enact in those areas I just mentioned. At this point it appears that there may be a choice between funding for the elderly or helping children and families. And both ends of that life span need support. ACEs takes no prisoners, trauma is a hungry ghost.

Cheers!

Elaine Beaulieu posted:

I work with a municipal program that offers maternal/child home visits by a nurse for any prenatal or parenting family under the age of 5 that would like a visit from a nurse. This voluntary program has been in existence for decades but several years ago we incorporated using the ACE questionnaire as a tool for opening up conversation with prenatal and parenting families about trauma. Our staff was hesitant to start because of fear of causing more trauma but the response by our families has been overwhelmingly positive. We offer the questionnaire and ask about the total but don't ask for specifics and they can keep the form. In most cases families share their experience, which serves to deepen the relationship between nurse and family and creates a foundation for further talks about building resilience. It is hard work to listen to these stories so staff needs support in this endeavor. I would encourage practices and services working with pregnant families and young parents to explore using this tool but to do it thoughtfully and with well prepared staff.

Elaine:

Would you share this comment as a blog post in the Parenting with ACEs group which is made up of parents and professionals? I'd love it if you'd be willing to share how a bit more on how those conversations go and the types of support staff want/need and benefit from. It seems people are often surprised that the response is overwhelmingly positive even though that's the case so often. I wonder why that is. I'd love your further thoughts. Please let me know if you need any help with blog posting as well if you have time/energy to share.  Cissy

Jo Dee Davis posted:

So we give the test to parents. Do they know what to do with the results?  If there is no plan for follow up and support, what is the point of the test?  Possibly the information might be helpful so they know the consequences of childhood experiences, but I fear many parents have no idea how to use that information.

Hi Jo Dee: 

I can share what my ACE test results did for me after taking the test in 2014. 

  • Taught me some objective measures for what is considered abuse, neglect, and dysfunction. 
  • Taught me neglect can be as traumatic as abuse.
  • Showed me that many people have no ACEs at all.
  • Taught me what a dose-response curve is and the more childhood adversity = more health risks and less childhood adversity = fewer health risks. 
  • Taught me to consider prioritizing my health and that a suck it up approach might not be good for my longevity or my parenting. 
  • Helped me believe my stress-related symptoms weren't just because I was too sensitive, bad at stress or lousy at life. Epic relief.
  • Helped me have compassion for myself and family members with ACEs.

It's not like learning about ACEs immediately made me able to change everything about myself or my parenting. It did not. But it helped me stop beating up on myself. It helped me realize there were things I needed to learn, and maybe from those people without the high ACE scores who had different experiences and got things that protected their health. 



Thanks for reading all of this and caring and thinking about parents. 

Cissy

Pam Ponich posted:

Yes, yes and YES!! I could not agree more. We need to do everything we can to focus on PREVENTION!! I recently discovered - and fought - a Medicaid rule change in my state of Montana that disallowed funding mental health services to very young children which is of course crazy. This is exactly the population we should all be focusing on - to identify early risk factors, including high ACE scores in parents, to provide the education, resources and support necessary so that we can prevent high ACEs in children, break the cycle of abuse/neglect and naiveté and get these kids (and their parents) on the right track from the get go. I too feel the clock ticking and am desperate to do all I can to help. I too am passionate about training on ACEs and spread the word wherever I can. As a psychotherapist, I now do the ACEs screening with every client (and their parents) and it totally informs my work. But I, too, am sickened by the increasing numbers of kids in foster care and how our system is often to blame for increasing ACEs rather than focusing resources on prevention. If anyone has the need for a passionate trainer on the subject, just let me know!

 

rosita cortizo posted:

I am glad to say that for the past 5 years I have been giving the ACE questionnaire to all the pregnant mothers that have been referred or wanted to see me for pre-perinatal EMDR therapy.

About a year ago NCHS clinics in Northern San Diego CA, started to provide the ACE questionnaires to ALL their new clients, including the children's parents.

Rosita: This is SO wonderful to hear. I would have loved to have had this info. PRIOR to becoming a parent or very soon after. Fantastic.

Cissy

Parenting with ACEs Group Manager& Community Facilitator 

Hi, Daniel:  I'm sorry that important programs in your state are being defunded. There are states with Republican governors, such as Wisconsin and Tennessee, that clearly recognize that ACEs science is apolitical and acultural....i.e., that this is science, to your point, that applies to every human, and that everybody who's interested in a better future for our children should learn about this, and begin implementing practices based on ACEs science in their individual, family, organizational and community lives.

The governors in those states have very advanced ACEs initiatives, Wisconsin in particular. Check out Fostering Futures. btw, the First Lady of Wisconsin, Tonette Walker, who was one of the co-founders of Fostering Futures, is inviting spouses of governors from all states to a meeting in the Fall to provide information about the amazing strides they've taken in Wisconsin, with the hope of inspiring all  states to engage in the ACEs movement.

Cheers, Jane

Jo Dee Davis posted:

So we give the test to parents. Do they know what to do with the results?  If there is no plan for follow up and support, what is the point of the test?  Possibly the information might be helpful so they know the consequences of childhood experiences, but I fear many parents have no idea how to use that information.

I agree Jo Dee with your wonder on this matter.  I also agree with John's thoughts on this and the urgency of ACEs  in our world. I have been thinking of your comment and John's thoughts on a national mandate for a few days now and there is something that keeps sticking in my wheels. 

Yes, there needs to be follow-up with parents after getting the results for sure.  A parent simply cannot be expected to automatically know what to do or what it means.  Also, trauma has a history and a deep story to it. Both parent and child carry these wounds and these hurts.  Or at least, in my work with children and families, that is more the case than the exception. I tend to think it is across the board.  It is a multilevel situation that requires, time and money and also the belief that it is WORTH the time and money to INTERVNE and to PREVENT.

That takes me to the next cog in this wheel of ACE and the stick that is our current Nation. It would be lovely to have a mandate to administer these assessments for ACE and then to implement the interventions that supports the prevention.  I live in a State that has had a Republican Governor for going on 8 years now. Agencies and services with professionals that care for, provide for, and support children and families specifically to help with the ACE issues are closed, de-funded and otherwise left abandoned.  It cost money to intervene, to educate, to provide services that support prevention.  And that's money the Republican Agenda serves to keep in the pockets of those who have more than enough and takes it away from those who have been hurting and are being hurt in the name of "patriotism", "loyalty", "respect for authority" and "moral purity". 

And so, this world of ACE goes on, just like global warming and cooling, it's about science. In this current Administration those climate change findings and that research are false.

I heard a statement the other day from someone who said, "...you can start out in a warm bathtub and eventually be boiled alive...".   Sorry to be so pessimistic but my program that cared for and provided services to children and families for over 9 years and specifically addressed ACE and trauma in the community has just now been terminated due to the 8 years of defunding services to people. 

 

 

 

 

 

I am glad to say that for the past 5 years I have been giving the ACE questionnaire to all the pregnant mothers that have been referred or wanted to see me for pre-perinatal EMDR therapy.

About a year ago NCHS clinics in Northern San Diego CA, started to provide the ACE questionnaires to ALL their new clients, including the children's parents.

Yes, yes and YES!! I could not agree more. We need to do everything we can to focus on PREVENTION!! I recently discovered - and fought - a Medicaid rule change in my state of Montana that disallowed funding mental health services to very young children which is of course crazy. This is exactly the population we should all be focusing on - to identify early risk factors, including high ACE scores in parents, to provide the education, resources and support necessary so that we can prevent high ACEs in children, break the cycle of abuse/neglect and naiveté and get these kids (and their parents) on the right track from the get go. I too feel the clock ticking and am desperate to do all I can to help. I too am passionate about training on ACEs and spread the word wherever I can. As a psychotherapist, I now do the ACEs screening with every client (and their parents) and it totally informs my work. But I, too, am sickened by the increasing numbers of kids in foster care and how our system is often to blame for increasing ACEs rather than focusing resources on prevention. If anyone has the need for a passionate trainer on the subject, just let me know!

I work with a municipal program that offers maternal/child home visits by a nurse for any prenatal or parenting family under the age of 5 that would like a visit from a nurse. This voluntary program has been in existence for decades but several years ago we incorporated using the ACE questionnaire as a tool for opening up conversation with prenatal and parenting families about trauma. Our staff was hesitant to start because of fear of causing more trauma but the response by our families has been overwhelmingly positive. We offer the questionnaire and ask about the total but don't ask for specifics and they can keep the form. In most cases families share their experience, which serves to deepen the relationship between nurse and family and creates a foundation for further talks about building resilience. It is hard work to listen to these stories so staff needs support in this endeavor. I would encourage practices and services working with pregnant families and young parents to explore using this tool but to do it thoughtfully and with well prepared staff.

I couldn't agree with you more. We could reach more youth even sooner if we made parenting and child development education a priority in our high schools. This is really about getting our nation to be proactive rather than reactive on childhood adversities. We have a trained subset of teachers called Family Consumer Science (FACS or FCS offering these classes in most high schools. If we are to take this serious then we must hve two things happen: 1. Our school administrators need to be guiding our students towards these classes. 2. Let our students know this is a wide open field of study where there is an immediate job once they have received their bachelors degree in FACS. 

Time is ticking for me too. I spend much time in schools speaking to our students but will soon be 59. I know that is young by today's standards but we are at an age where life doesn't seem infinite. 

Anyone interested in videos or curriculum which subjects reality-based parenting education please visit www.cope24.com

So we give the test to parents. Do they know what to do with the results?  If there is no plan for follow up and support, what is the point of the test?  Possibly the information might be helpful so they know the consequences of childhood experiences, but I fear many parents have no idea how to use that information.

Hi, John: Great suggestion!! Another person mentioned this good idea: educating all parents about ACEs and having them do the survey the first day they bring their kids to school. If its done in all pediatric clinics, pre-school, first grade, and anytime a kid goes to a new school, that might reach most of the parents. 

My preference would be to call this "educating" them about ACEs rather than testing them. They'd do the survey as part of the education. It might be perceived as less onerous, scary or blaming. And having services available for parents who need them would be critical. 

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