By Jeremy Loudenback, Chronicle of Social Change, September 19, 2019
Soon after being appointed California’s first-ever surgeon general, Nadine Burke Harris took off on a barnstorming tour across the state to talk about adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress, an issue she calls “the biggest public health crisis facing California today.”
Before the pediatrician was appointed to her position in January by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), Harris had founded and led the Center for Youth Wellness, organization focused on addressing toxic stress and the study of adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs. Over the past decade, she has become a leading voice on the subject of ACEs, the scientifically proven idea that multiple incidents of childhood trauma can place people at risk of a lifetime’s worth of health issues. That role has carried her across the country, from helping nurture ACEs advocacy work in California to national meetings of the American Academy of Pediatrics and even the White House.
Newsom approved a budget in June that will help California move toward universal ACEs screening, a goal that Harris has long supported. The state is setting aside about $45 million next year to reimburse Medicaid providers in the state for trauma screenings of adults and children, and another $50 million to train primary care providers on how to administer these screenings.