The leaders of the ACEs movement in Iowa, Wisconsin and Arizona shared the histories of how it all got started, the challenges along the way, and what the future holds in their respective states. Martha Davis of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation moderated the rich discussion and recalled her own involvement in the movement in Philadelphia that culminated in taking the issue to the national stage with the May 2013 ACEs Summit. She held up the achievements in the state of Maine where much was accomplished on a shoestring. She said states are key to the growing social movement around ACEs---states are big enough to have an impact and small enough to get things done.
There were common threads in the three states’ experiences but each had its own homegrown characteristics. All three state leaders emphasized the importance of having state-specific ACEs data to take to policymakers, offering a message of hope and resiliency, embedding ACEs concepts across agencies and sectors, and involving diverse communities and individuals in the movement.
Nicole Beaman of Orchard Place (a children’s mental health provider) and Iowa ACEs Steering Committee described galvanizing events that featured the stars in the field such as Rob Anda, MD and Nadine Burke Harris, the importance of learning from other states, and the value of now having a part-time person to coordinate the work of the Steering Committee. She noted the importance of having Iowa-specific data coupled with personal stories to bring the data to life. The testimony before a legislative committee by a parent of two adopted children had a huge impact because the parent spoke with passion and conviction. The Steering Committee is providing online training modules on ACEs and has started its own group on ACEsConnection.
Jennifer Jones, associate director of the Wisconsin Children’s Trust Fund, told the Wisconsin story. The Republican Governor, Scott Walker, has shared the Wisconsin ACEs report with Cabinet members and the First Lady has championed ACEs-informed approaches through the Fostering Futures initiative she leads. While the Governor opposes the expansion of Medicaid in the state, the use of ACEs research in the Medicaid program (BadgerCare) is an innovation that could be a model for other states.
Marcia Stanton of the Phoenix Children’s Hospital described the early days of the movement in Phoenix when Dr. Felitti did Grand Rounds with local pediatricians and warned her that his research could be met with skepticism---he was right. She described how they kept trying different approaches and being willing to take risks. Plans are underway to lead an effort to convince the legislature to follow the example of Wisconsin and California in passing an ACEs resolution. She described the role of champions such the First Lady of Phoenix, Nicole Stanton, and the President of Arizona State University. Priorities include taking Triple P parenting program statewide, establishing a Statewide Trauma Response System, and raising public awareness (there are now 450 ACE trainers statewide who have reached 13,000 people with their presentations). Her approach is “Gentle persuasion relentlessly applied.”