Leaders in ACEs/trauma/resilience movement from nine states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic and the District of Columbia gathered for a networking call on May 1 to learn about flexible funding opportunities for states under the CARES Act, ways to get involved in advocacy, and share their successes and challenges in building statewide coalitions.
The meeting of leaders was organized by ACEs Connection and the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP) in response to COVID-19 and the growing interest in organizing statewide coalitions. Taking a page from the governors in various regions around the country who are meeting to coordinate efforts around COVID-19, state coalitions jumped at the opportunity to share and learn from neighboring states.
Members of the CTIPP National Trauma Campaign Core Team, Marlo Nash, Dan Press, and Jesse Kohler, focused on federal legislation that affects the states and described ways for advocates to get involved. Marlo Nash, National Director of Partnership and Policy, Saint Francis Ministries, presented on the flexible funding opportunities in CAREs ACT and future legislation to support trauma-informed programs and policies—this presentation is summarized in a recent post on ACEs Connection. Dan Press, legal advisor to CTIPP and attorney with the firm Van Ness Feldman, and Jesse Kohler provided tips on how both individuals and organizations can have an impact on national policy. Kohler serves on the CTIPP Board and is involved in launching Pennsylvania Trauma-Informed Care Network. Check the ACEs Connection calendar next week to register for a "Better Normal" conversation on this topic May 15 at 3:00 pm EDT.
The bulk of the call was devoted to reports by participants on their accomplishments in forming state coalitions and the areas where help is needed. Zoom chat comments reflected how valuable participants saw this exchange—“this is such an amazing opportunity to share and learn” and “ and it is “so helpful to hear what is happening in neighboring states!”
Here are some quick summaries of what the states reported (some of these comments were included in a short survey circulated prior to the meeting):
The Connecticut ACEs Task Force is in the early stages of development but is building on the deep experience and expertise of key leaders representing two major organizations in the state that incorporate ACEs science into their programming—the Connecticut Women’s Consortium and the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County. Kathleen Callahan of the Consortium and Katerina Vlahos of the Fairfield Co. United Way participated in the call and connected with states they’ve already consulted with and made new connections. Efforts are just underway to increase the Task Force’s impact on the state legislature and executive branch.
Trauma Matters Delaware (TMD) has been active for years and has gained the support of the Governor and Delaware’s First Lady. Governor Carney signed an Executive Order that supports the work for Delaware to become a trauma-informed state. Marilyn Siebold with Wilmington University and Deb Stevens with the Delaware State Education Association—both leaders in TMD—see the coalition as well positioned to grow its statewide, multi-sector work.
Cynthia Greer with Trinity Washington University stated that the District’s “taxation without representation” is part of the legacy of historical trauma in the nation’s capital. DC was considered a territory in the recent stimulus package, resulting in a lower level of funding than the states. The Center for Community Resilience at George Washington University, led by Dr. Wendy Ellis, was represented by Caitlin Murphy. DC-MD-VA is one of 8 of communities in the Building Community Resilience (BCR) collaborative.
Claudia Remington with MD Essentials for Childhood highlighted these accomplishments:
—120 ACE Interface Trainers across the state
—ACEs Roundtable for Members of the Maryland General Assembly (read post on MD ACEs in Action Community page)
—for 2 years have held an ACE Education & Advocacy Day at the Maryland General Assembly, advocated for ACE & Resilience informed legislation (passed several)
—statewide coalition/alliance cross-sector with both public and private agencies and individuals involved...and linked to and encouraging formation of ACE local partnerships (in 6 MD jurisdictions to date) —ACEs Legislative Brief, SCCAN Annual Reports since 2010 have highlighted the work
A roundtable was held in early March with organizations across the state to discuss becoming a trauma-informed state. Jennifer Cantwell reported in ACEs Connection that the “City of Worcester, The Drug Endangered Children’s Initiative of the Plymouth County Drug Abuse Task Force and Wayside Youth and Family Support Network – all recipients of Office for Victims of Crime federal grants – have teamed up with Mass Inc., UMass Medical Center, UMass Medical School, Worcester ACTs, Worcester Public Health Department, and State Senator Harriette Chandler to host an opportunity to learn about trauma informed policies and share best practices.” Audrey Smolkin with the University of Massachusetts Medical School raised issues related to racial inequities and state legislators’ interest in providing trauma responsive trainings for teachers and early childhood providers.
Kimberly Boller of The Nicholson Foundation and several colleagues as well as a representative from state government participated. The Nicholson Foundation along with two other foundations released a report in July 2019, Adverse Childhood Experiences: Opportunities to Prevent, Protect Against, and Heal from the Effects of ACEs in New Jersey. The report “details the challenges New Jersey faces in addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and calls for a coordinated statewide response to mitigate their lasting effects on children’s health and well-being.” Meryl Schulman with the Center for Health Care Strategies provided an update on efforts in the state to educate policymakers and communities about trauma-informed approaches.
Members of the the New York Trauma Informed Coalition have been meeting regularly to develop strategies and build partnerships. The Coalition held a Trauma-Informed Virtual Rally on April 30 and invited all impacted by ACEs “to join forces and create a plan of action for a trauma-informed response.” Jenn O’Connor, Prevent Child Abuse NY, reported on a legislative initiative to amend the New York constitution to require the state to incorporate trauma-informed approaches.
Rob Reed of the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General has traveled throughout the state in a grassroots effort to create local trauma-informed coalitions. He also is involved in a Pennsylvania Think Tank to create a trauma-informed state. Daniel Jurman who is involved in the Governor’s COVID-19 response reported that trauma-informed approaches will be part of the state’s recovery plan.
Two representatives of the Ocean State Trauma Informed Community Coalition (OSTICC)— Christine Hathaway and Wil Beaudoin—participated. Hathaway reported that “the founding members of OSTICC began working together on a trauma informed initiative in 2015. The group was comprised of state and private sector professionals working with adults who have intellectual/developmental disabilities with the goal of learning successful ways to implement organizational change dedicated to implementing trauma-informed practices to reduce the use of seclusion/restrain and trauma while supporting professionals providing direct support.” Prior to the COVID crisis, OSTICC leaders were planning a fall conference on trauma informed approaches in building a community that is trauma responsive. They are working to expand on current partnerships that include the Governor's Commission on Disabilities, the RI DD Council, the City of Providence and several smaller organizations within the community.
Virginia has had a statewide coalition of Trauma Informed Community Networks (TICN) since 2012. Now there are 26 TICNs in the state. Melissa McGinn, the state’s TICN coordinator/Greater Richmond SCAN, reported that several years ago they worked to get a resolution passed with the General Assembly to recognize the importance of Trauma Informed Community Networks across the state as a mechanism to build community resilience. In addition, she said they have held a Trauma Informed Virginia Advocacy Day in Richmond, the state capital, where they “pulled together teams from across the state to advocate for selected bills that promote trauma informed practice and address the impact of ACEs.”
As the survey responses are received and additional connections are made among the participants, we will provide updates on the State ACEs Action site on ACEs Connection. Among the challenges the states reported were the need for sustainable funding to support coalitions and recruiting and developing diverse partnerships. A major issue that was raised by a number of participants is the need to address the inequities and health disparities that are in shocking display with the COVID crisis. Others wanted to learn more about what states and localities are doing to address grief and other losses from the COVID crisis.
Participants were encouraged to communicate with state policymakers about the need to address ACEs and trauma now and in the aftermath of the COVID crisis to mitigate its traumatic impact. For the meeting, Jane Stevens, founder and publisher of ACEs Connection, curated a short list of examples of successful programs around the country using trauma-informed approaches (attached), providing examples of the types of programs that state coalitions should share with policymakers. State coalitions were encouraged to share successful programs with the Governor and urge that they be taken to scale.
ACEs Connection and CTIPP have scheduled a similar meeting with the Mid-west region on May 11 at 10:00 Central Time. Additional networking meetings will be scheduled for other regions. Please respond in the comment section below if you have questions or comments.