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San Diego Organizations Work Together To Shed Light on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

SAN DIEGO – The American Academy of Pediatrics, California Chapter 3 (AAP-CA3) together with YMCA of San Diego County, San Diego State University Social Policy Institute and San Diego Accountable Community for Health (SDACH)are joining forces as ACEs Aware grantees to assist San Diego Medi-Cal providers screen and treat Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress.


The ACEs Aware initiative is a first-of-its-kind effort led by the Office of the California Surgeon General and the Department of Health Care Services to cut Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress in half in one generation. While these issues represent a public health crisis, they have gone largely unrecognized, until recently, by the public healthcare system and society.


“For decades, we’ve known the negative impacts and long-term effects ACEs have on public health, which are becoming increasingly important to address given the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Pradeep Gidwani, MD, MPH, FAAP, ACEs Medical Director for the AAP-CA3. “We are honored to work with some amazing community partners to take on this endeavor and have an impact on the infants and children in San Diego and Imperial Counties.”


The mission of ACEs Aware is made even more important today to address the stress and resulting health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Secondary impacts such as disruptions in medications and care; patients delaying much-needed medical care out of fear; physical distancing measures; and distress related to school closures, unemployment, lost wages and more will acutely affect the health and well-being of Californians.


"At the San Diego State University Social Policy Institute, we have a track record of collaborating across systems to maximize well-being in communities which is how we are working with AAP-CA3 and other San Diego-based organizations," said Steve Hornberger, Social Policy Institute Director. " We strongly believe that together we can raise awareness, promote screening, treat and heal from the negative consequences of ACEs to promote the importance of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and its impact on children and families.”


ACEs are strongly associated with some of the most common and serious health conditions facing society, including more than half of the leading causes of death in the United States. While ACEs do affect all communities, studies have found higher prevalence rates in people who are low-income, of color, justice-involved, and/or part of the LGBTQ+ community.


“As a community-serving agency, we see the effects of ACEs every day and we know that the resulting trauma can be long-lasting,” said Krysta Esquivel, executive director of YMCA Youth & Family Services. “We are grateful to be part of this initiative and support Medi-Cal providers in conducting screenings and connecting families to critical resources.”


A screening evaluates children and adults for ACEs experience by age 18 for abuse, neglect and household dysfunction. When providers screen for ACEs, they can determine the likelihood a patient is at an increased health risk. Once identified, providers can treat and improve efficacy and efficiency of care ultimately reducing long-term health costs.


“The San Diego Accountable Community for Health works to build bridges between clinical and community partners,” said SDACH Executive Director Kitty Bailey. “We look forward to bringing together physicians, social service agencies and community members to best serve families and promote resiliency.”


Through the ACEs Aware grant, AAP-CA3 is offering San Diego Medi-Cal providers with training and screening resources to better serve at-risk patients. Eligible Medi-Cal providers can receive Continuing Medical Education (CME) and Maintenance of Certification (MOC) credits upon completion of qualified training. For more information on available resources and how to get involved visit:




The American Academy of Pediatrics, California Chapter 3 (AAP-CA3) is dedicated to achieving physical, mental health and social well-being for every infant, child and adolescent in San Diego and Imperial Counties. Founded in 1961, AAP-CA3 is one of four American Academy of Pediatrics chapters in California. Visit for more information.



The YMCA of San Diego County is the largest Y association in the nation, serving nearly 500,000 San Diego County residents and employing more than 5,500 people. Through a variety of programs and services focused on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y unites men, women and children - regardless of age, income or background - to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. The YMCA of San Diego County is dedicated to improving the quality of human life and to helping all people realize their fullest potential as children of God through the development of the spirit, mind and body. Visit to find your local YMCA or call (858) 292-YMCA (9622).



The Social Policy Institute (SPI) is an affiliate of San Diego State University’s (SDSU) School of Social Work. The Institute educates, inspires and collaborates with partners and community stakeholders through an integrated learning system, training and technical assistance, continuous quality improvement, consultation, research and evaluation. SPI is focused on bridging academia with government, business and community partners to increase the well-being of children, families and communities.



The San Diego Accountable Community for Health (SDACH) is a multi-sector initiative that addresses critical community health issues through collaboration and redefines our local health system to extend beyond traditional healthcare institutions. With a focus on equity, the SDACH brings together clinical providers with public health, schools, social service agencies, community organizations, and others in a collective effort to make our community healthier. Since its inception in 2016, the SDACH has become widely recognized as a respected leader and convener of stakeholders across medical, social, and community networks of care to create clinical-community linkages, build capacity and share best practices.





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