Strengths-Based Ways to address ACEs and Childhood Well-being

This is part two of a two-part series on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).  Part one provided an overview of ACEs and correlated health impacts, as well as how California’s children are faring. In what follows, part two will offer strengths-based approaches to addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences, and noting evidence-based examples from the field that can be adopted community-wide. 

What strengths-based approaches can address these childhood adversities? 

School and community practitioners can benefit from assessing a child’s adverse experiences by utilizing whole-child, and healing-centered approaches to care, as opposed to more common trauma-informed care practices, which lean toward to unintentional deficit-based approaches that can pathologize, or blame, the individual.[i]  This shift in approach allows for practitioners to not only examine a child’s adverse experience(s), but also consider how to harness the child’s assets in order to provide the best treatment. 

Shortly following the publication of the 1998 landmark ACE study, several new strands of research on addressing childhood adversities emerged that dovetailed with the ACEs movement. Research by the Search Institute conversely found that young people are more likely to disengage from high-risk behaviors if they possessed more developmental assets.[ii] Their 41 Developmental Assets names these positive qualities and experiences, including a new emphasis placed upon positive cultural identity.[iii]  Similarly, the youth development movement on resiliency in the early 2000’s came to fruition after Bonnie Benard’s seminal publication of decades of research, which focused upon strengths-based approaches that families, schools, and communities could adopt to support the healthy development of children, such as transparently motivating young people to further develop their personal strengths, and supporting their protective factors—specific environmental factors that help protect youth from risk.[iv] 

Source: www.WestEd.org

Source: www.WestEd.org

These practices and approaches hold true today. ASR partners with numerous First 5 organizations throughout California, many of which have adopted the F5 Strengthening Families Approach, which utilize supportive protective factors that help to strengthen families to support optimal child development, thereby reducing the likelihood of childhood abuse and neglect.[v]  This framework emphasizes five key protective factors: Parental Resilience, Social Connections, Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development, Concrete Support in Times of Need, and Social & Emotional Competence of Children.  ASR proudly supports the evaluation of several First 5 parenting programs, which addresses these protective factors as a preventive means of ensuring the well-being of children.   

Source: Center for the Study of Social Policy

Source: Center for the Study of Social Policy

For those youth-serving organizations looking to support and measure their impact on developing young people’s assets, the Search Institute has surveys, workshops, and publications available, ranging from measurement tools for protective factors, to measures of program quality for out-of-school time programs. 

Let’s get preventive!

Applied Survey Research stands behind California’s efforts to inform, monitor, and prevent childhood adversities, and requests your commitment to join us in this effort to promote well-being for all.

With Governor Newsom’s recent appointment of Nadine Burke Harris—a pediatrician, trailblazer in the study of Adverse Childhood Experiences, and developer of an ACEs screening tool—as California’s first surgeon general, along with his budget proposal that included significant investments in early childhood developmental screenings ($60 million) and ACEs screenings for children and adults in the state’s Medicaid program ($45 million)[vi], the spotlight has been turned onto early prevention and detection for children’s well-being.  As Dr. Burke-Harris stated in a press release, “Governor Newsom’s vision to address healthcare from a preventive, rather than reactive, frame reflects a keen appreciation of the latest science as well as a deep commitment to the health of California children and families”.[vii]  Applied Survey Research stands behind California’s efforts to inform, monitor, and prevent childhood adversities, and requests your commitment to join us in this effort to promote well-being for all.

References

[i] Bartlett, Jessica D. & Sacks, Vanessa (2019).  “Adverse childhood experiences are different than child trauma, and it’s critical to understand why.”  Child Trends.  April 11, 2019.

[ii] Search Institute (2017).  “40 Developmental Assets.”  Accessed at: http://page.search-institute.org/40-developmental-assets on March 12, 2019.

 [iii] Search Institute (2017).  “40 Developmental Assets.”  Accessed at: http://page.search-institute.org/40-developmental-assets on March 12, 2019; Project Cornerstone (2017).  “41 Developmental Assets for Adolescents (Ages 12-18).”  YMCA of Silicon Valley.  Copyright Search Institute, 2006, revised April 2017.  Accessed at: https://www.ymcasv.org/projectcornerstone/pdfs/DevelopmentalAssets_Ages12-18_English.pdf on March 12, 2019.

 [iv] Benard, Bonnie (2004).  Resiliency: What We Have Learned.  San Francisco: WestEd.

 [v] Center for the Study of Social Policy.  “About Strengthening Families and the Protective Factors Framework.”  Washington, D.C.  Accessed at: https://cssp.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/About-Strengthening-Families.pdf on March 12, 2019.

 [vi]  Loudenbeck, Jeremy (2019).  “California Governor Names Nadine Burke-Harris as State’s First-Ever Surgeon General.” The Chronicle of Social Change.  January 23, 2019.  Accessed at: https://chronicleofsocialchange.org/child-trauma-2/california-governor-names-nadine-burke-harris-as-states-first-ever-surgeon-general on March 12, 2019.

 [vii] Loudenbeck, Jeremy (2019).  “California Governor Names Nadine Burke-Harris as State’s First-Ever Surgeon General.” The Chronicle of Social Change.  January 23, 2019.  Accessed at: https://chronicleofsocialchange.org/child-trauma-2/california-governor-names-nadine-burke-harris-as-states-first-ever-surgeon-general on March 12, 2019.

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