12.5 percent of people have 4 or more ACEs. FOUR! This statistic really hit me today as I attended my second El Dorado ACEs Collaborative meeting since starting my time with El Dorado County as a Community Health Advocate. I work in the Community Hubs program in which ACEs is at the heart of all we do, and today’s meeting solidified the importance of that. ACEs are a new topic to me but a fascinating one at that. I didn’t realize prior to coming to EDC that so much of a person’s overall health is impacted by ACEs!
The meeting kicked off with around 100 members of the collaborative coming together ready to make changes in our community. After introductions around the room in Placerville and Tahoe, it was time to celebrate the accomplishments of the agencies present. It was incredible to hear about all of the positive change occurring in El Dorado County! Some of the accomplishments that stuck in my mind included numerous trauma informed trainings with school staff to serve their students to the best of their abilities and a mandatory trauma informed training for all Health and Human Services employees. I believe this will help employees have more patience and a better understanding with their clients in knowing there may be more going on in their life than meets the eye.
The El Dorado ACEs Collaborative also has sector work groups that work and meet together to work on the action plan that the collaborative has established. These sectors include Behavioral Health, Community- general, Community-hubs, The Divide, Education, Health, Public Safety, Social Services/Foster Care, and South Lake Tahoe. These different sectors work to support families by identifying and implementing trauma-informed strategies.
Our guest speaker for this meeting was Tracy Fauver, Executive Director at Yolo County CASA, presenting on “Trauma Informed and Resilient Building Practices in Social Service and Child Welfare Environments”. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is an organization that places a volunteer adult advocate with a child in the welfare system. This advocate does as its name implies, advocates for the child. They also act as a constant, unchanging person in this child’s life while they endure the welfare system.
Tracy did a great job presenting on our role working with the community and how important it is to be trauma informed. She began with an idea from Nadine Burke Harris, “it starts with me”. The implication of this statement is that we have to first take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. We have to take care of our own stress in order to have the capacity to help with theirs. Another really important point revolving around being trauma informed was the idea that we need to change our mindset. We should be thinking and trying to understand what happened to them, not what’s wrong with them. This mindset will help us as workers remember that this person may have gone through thick and thin to be here today. The final piece that Tracy spoke about that struck a chord with me was when she said “progress happens when people feel connected and safe”. This is so important! We can’t expect people to build resilience and grow if they do not have a safe space to feel connected to others. Keeping all this in mind, we can go forth in our community and truly make a change.
I am looking forward to continuing to see the work El Dorado ACEs Collaborative puts forth in the coming year!
Blog post by: Amie McGrath, Community Hub Health Team, EDC Public Health Nursing