The California Essentials for Childhood (EfC) Initiative launched a new set of child adversity and resilience data indicators on Kidsdata.org Furthermore, the initiative created state and local dashboards to bring together sources of data that represent a broader set of life experiences than originally reflected in the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study, such as living in poverty or dangerous neighborhoods. The goal was to make these data widely available and provide training on how to talk about adversity to increase local capacity for preventive action.
Child abuse and neglect (CAN) (i.e., physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and physical and emotional neglect) make up five of the original 10 ACEs and is a significant public health problem in California. In 2017, there were over 68,000 substantiated cases of CAN for a rate of 7.5 per 1,000 Californian children. In addition, approximately one in five California children live in chronic poverty and unstable housing conditions. These types of severe adversities have been shown to have negative and long-term impacts on child health and well-being. The “toxic stress” associated with these early and cumulative traumatic experiences can disrupt healthy development and lead to emotional, behavioral, and social problems. It can also lead to serious physical and mental health issues in adulthood.
Most prevention and intervention efforts have focused on providing direct services to protect children and strengthen families. Although these are critical services, this approach does not address the overarching social contexts that create the conditions in which families struggle and children are at risk for ACEs. Many California community members and leaders are not fully aware of the growing scientific consensus on the biological processes through which ACEs impact lifelong health and intergenerational outcomes. Professional and community leaders often do not have access to local data on child adversity and resilience that they can use to inform local and state decision-makers about evidence-based policy and program solutions. In addition, local partners often don’t have the communication skills to translate these data to inform local action.
To read the full report written by By Marissa Abbott, MPH and Steve Wirtz, PhD, California Department of Public Health click HERE