Good news for helping kids at risk in the State of Vermont! The ACES Adverse Childhood Experience Questionnaire will help educators help kids by integrating the the science of adverse childhood experiences (ACES)…
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Dr. George Till, Vermont state legislator and physician
“When Vermont State Legislator and physician Dr. George Till heard Dr. Vincent Felitti present the findings of the CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study at a conference in Vermont last October, he had an epiphany that resulted in a seismic shift in how he saw the world. The result: H. 762, The Adverse Childhood Experience Questionnaire, the first bill in any state in the nation that calls for integrating screening for adverse childhood experiences in health services, and for integrating the science of adverse childhood experiences into medical and health school curricula and continuing education.
That Vermont would be the first in the nation to address adverse childhood experiences so specifically in health care at a legislative level isn’t unusual. More than most states, Vermont is a “laboratory of change” for health care. It has embraced universal health care coverage for all Vermonters, and it passed the nation’s first comprehensive mental health and substance abuse parity law. (Washington State passed a law in 2011 to identify and promote innovate strategies, and develop a public-private partnership to support effective strategies, but it was not funded as anticipated. The Washington State ACEs Public-Private Initiative is currently evaluating five communities’ ACE activities.”
The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES) has been the subject of my talks and blog posts in the past. And in my work with Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay, Oregon, I worry everyday about the kids who are at risk in our program. I also worry because of my own childhood adverse experiences living in a post WWII home challenged with the invisible wounds of war. Kids are often silent about what happens at home. There could be adverse circumstances contributing to emotional neglect and child abuse. Most kids put their game face on when they walk out the door for school each day. If we only knew more as a result of the kind of health care legislation passed in Vermont, we could do so much more to help these children during the day. The additional information suggesting adverse or toxic home conditions would help to tailor mentoring programs that could make a difference. As a public-private partnership or non-profit Neighbors for Kids after-school health and well-being programs could provide at risk children the extra attention they may need to get through the day with a more positive and hopeful mindset. If we were able to identify more serious or critical needs, outside resources could be called upon to assist the children and families affected When examining the ACES pyramid chart above in this post, it is clear that at risk children can develop behaviors detrimental to health over time, which potentially lead to disabilities and social problems. In the worst case, completely left alone emotional baggage from childhood and young adult life, can lead to early death. I believe the ACES comprehensive study proves that helping at risk kids early on, can make a difference in the physical and mental health of children as a whole. Proactive adult mentoring and loving care often provides children who are at risk with that extra edge needed to get through the day, and a much better chance to succeed in building a happy, healthy, and productive life as an adult. Steve Sparks Author Reconciliation: A Son’s Story My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma