You may have been hearing the phrase “trauma-informed care” a lot more recently and there are good reasons for that. As the landmark Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study from 1997 receives more and more attention, Oklahomans, from all walks of life and professions, are better understanding the social, emotional and cognitive damage already wrought on so many of our children. That damage, as the study reveals, manifests itself in challenging behavioral patterns in our children and poor health outcomes in our adults.
ACEs are stressful or traumatic events that children experience, from physical and emotional abuse to divorce and parental incarceration. The research shows that they represent significant risk factors for substance abuse and addiction disorders (from alcohol to opioids). Not coincidentally, Oklahoma ranks near the top in both categories: we are one of three states with the highest ACE scores for children age 0-5 (National Survey of Children’s Health, 2016) and we rank among the top eight states in death rates due to drug overdose, suicide and liver disease (Commonwealth Fund, 2016).
The Potts Family Foundation manages a two-year-old initiative called the Oklahoma Early Childhood Coalition. This statewide initiative is comprised of over 60 allied organizations, 40 state legislators and more than 60 individuals who are members of our Oklahoma Champions for Early Opportunities. Together, we are shining a light on not just the problems this state faces — and they are enormous — but the solutions to help mitigate and reverse the damages already present. The foundation’s main early childhood demographic is families with children, pre-birth to age 5. Our time, talent and treasure is directed to improving the conditions of that demographic across the state.
[For more on this story by Robert Block, go to https://www.tulsaworld.com/opi...df-c1393691ace5.html]