Child Trends expert Jessica Dym Bartlett appeared as a guest on KPCC’s Air Talk with Larry Mantle to discuss the challenges for California’s plan to screen children for adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) during routine pediatric visits. Screening for ACEs without an understanding of a child’s full range of traumatic experiences—and without providing families with adequate access to providers trained to care for children who have experienced trauma—risks doing more harm than good.
The Child Trends education team has also emphasized the role of building supportive, trauma-informed learning environments in schools to respond to childhood trauma. Implementing trauma-informed care in educational, health care, and other settings also can help children increase the protective factors in their lives so they are more likely to exhibit resilience to adversity.
To address childhood adversity, it’s critical for policymakers, practitioners, researchers, and the media to understand the differences among childhood adversity, Adverse Childhood Experiences, and child trauma. Bartlett is the co-author of a brief that cautioned against relying on ACEs-based screening as the sole response to addressing the risks that adversity and trauma pose to child development and well-being. Instead, it is essential to pursue a comprehensive, trauma-informed, and strengths-based approach to screening, referral, and follow-up.