ACEs Policy Recommendations at a Glance – Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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ACEs Policy Recommendations at a Glance

January 17, 2018 Written By: Health & Medicine Policy Research Group (HMPRG)

Earlier this month, the Illinois ACEs Response Collaborative released three revised policy briefs on the impact of ACEs in the health, justice, and education systems including promising practices and recommended actions for change. These briefs were developed by members of the Collaborative—system leaders in Illinois who are working from an ACEs-informed lens to improve systems to prevent and mitigate trauma across generations.

Rooted in social justice, these briefs are a call to action to move upstream, build resiliency, and recognize how addressing inequity and trauma can improve systems while also building resiliency.

Each brief provides concise, actionable policy recommendations for the sector. Recommendations focus on both small “p” policy changes within local systems and agencies can have an important impact on the people served, as well as large “P” policy at the federal, state and local levels that can build the foundation for preventing and addressing ACEs in a systematic “upstream” approach. The following recommendations “at a glance” reflect an understanding of ACEs and trauma which requires multiple levels of policy change since effectively addressing ACEs requires working within all the contexts in which they occur: families, communities and society.

Health Systems and Providers
  • Increase awareness of ACEs and resilience, particularly among policy makers and providers.
  • Support federal and state policy that supports families and communities, such as paid sick time and universal day care.
  • Fund a wide array of family supports especially early childhood programs, including home visiting, so families can thrive.
  • Equip providers and systems with tools to screen for and address ACEs and develop trauma-sensitive health care systems that support patients and staff.
  • Use BRFSS data and proxies for high ACE scores to focus services in high-need geographic areas.
  • Utilize an ACE and trauma-informed framework in planning, funding and implementing services.
  • Develop innovative plans for use of health care expenditures by institutions and government for trauma-informed practices such as universal coverage for services and programs that help to prevent and treat ACEs/trauma.
Educators and Stakeholders
  • Rethink discipline and encourage strategies that keep kids in school.
  • Support teachers with professional development,
  • in-classroom supports and social emotional learning techniques.
  • Prepare youth to be successful in school by building coordinated supports for youth and families starting prenatally and continuing throughout the lifespan.
  • Increase parent engagement.
  • Build and support self-regulation skills.
  • Change policy to support safe and trauma-sensitive classrooms.
Juvenile and Criminal Justice Systems
  • Justice systems must seek to be procedurally fair.
  • All staff in all systems must understand the impact of ACEs and must cooperate and collaborate on solutions.
  • Evidence-based screening for ACEs should be in place at each step of an individual’s involvement with the justice system, and staff should respond in trauma-informed ways to address and prevent further trauma and criminal system involvement.
  • Systems must address the trauma faced by their own staff in the course of their work.