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California Essentials for Childhood Initiative (CA)

The California Essentials for Childhood Initiative uses a public health and collective impact approach to align and enhance collaborative efforts to promote safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for children, youth and families through systems, policy and social norms change.

Dr. Ken Epstein Speaks About Trauma-Informed Work

In recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month, the California Departments of Public Health, Health Care Services and Social Services, and multiple community partners welcomed Dr. Kenneth Epstein to speak about his work highlighting trauma and resilience-informed practices. The event was also co-sponsored by ACEs Connection Network, Kaiser Permanente, and UC Davis Medical Center.

Dr. Epstein leads the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s (SFDPH) Trauma-Informed Systems Initiative, which is transforming the whole organization’s approach to its workforce and the clients they serve through a systematic process called “PREPPED for Change” that consists of seven components: planning, reflection, education, perspective, problem solving, equity, and deliberate strategic decisions. The initiative has the full backing of the SFDPH’s leadership, including Director Barbara Garcia. Dr. Epstein described the first steps in moving from a trauma-organized institution, towards a more healing organization. SFDPH has made multiple policy and practice changes and has provided Trauma 101 training to over 6,000 of its employees in public health, hospitals, and ambulatory care services.

Dr. Epstein’s presentation was followed by a powerful dramatic monologue, a panel discussion, and reception. Alex Cuevas performed a monologue from the play “Trigger,” a story about youth trauma. Mr. Cuevas’ reenactment told the story of a Latino youth’s struggle through the foster care system after the loss of his grandmother.

The panel highlighted trauma-informed work that is happening at the community and organizational level. The first speaker, Rebekah Couch, case manager at Bishop Gallegos Maternity Home, provided her compelling personal and professional story of overcoming trauma through resilience. Dr. Brigid McCaw, medical director of the Family Violence Prevention Program for Kaiser Permanente Northern California Region, described Kaiser’s institutional efforts to create a trauma-informed and healing approach to services for clients who had experienced intimate partner violence. Jane Stevens, founder and publisher of ACEs Connection Network, provided a further example of institutional efforts to implement a trauma-informed approach. She reviewed the state of Wisconsin’s recent year-long trauma-informed learning collaborative comprising seven state agencies and 14 county health departments.

The recording and slide deck will be posted to the California Essentials for Childhood website on the California Department of Public Health website.

Dr. Epstein's slides are attached below.

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