By Zaidee Stavely, EdSource, June 25, 2019.
Has your child ever lived with a parent or caregiver who had mental health issues, such as depression?
Witnessed a parent or caregiver being screamed at, insulted or humiliated by another adult?
Been separated from their parent or caregiver due to foster care or immigration?
Those are some of the questions on a survey that California pediatricians will use to screen millions of children for traumatic experiences beginning Jan. 1, 2020. Many more of these screenings are expected, after the 2019-20 budget just approved by the state Legislature allocated $45 million to reimburse doctors for screening MediCal patients for trauma, and $50 million to train doctors on how to conduct trauma screenings. The funding is in addition to funding for screenings for developmental and other disabilities.
The new screenings are part of a push by Gov. Gavin Newsom to focus on adverse childhood experiences, underscored by his appointment of Dr. Nadine Burke Harris as California’s first surgeon general earlier this year. Burke Harris is recognized as a pioneer in the study of how these experiences can affect children’s developing brains and cause a number of lifelong health and mental health problems. Research has shown that experiencing a large number of traumatic events in childhood can increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and depression, among other chronic illnesses.