In recent years, we’ve learned a lot more about the impact of unaddressed childhood trauma on future health and wellbeing. Studies show that higher adverse childhood experience (ACE) scores are associated with higher risk of health and social problems. ACEs are traumatic events occurring before age 18 including emotional, physical or sexual abuse, neglect or household dysfunction (such as a parent with mental illness or who is incarcerated). According to the California Surgeon General, “… a person who has 4 or more ACEs … [has] … double the risk of heart disease, two and half times the risk of stroke, double the risk for cancer, 11 times the risk of Alzheimer’s.”
Trauma informed care (TIC) is an approach that acknowledges the widespread impact of trauma, recognizes the signs and symptoms in clients, staff or others involved with the system and responds to its effects through appropriate practices, policies and procedures, preventing further traumatization. Programs and organizations that use a trauma-informed approach promote positive health outcomes and resiliency in children and adults. A trauma-informed organization asks: “What happened to you?” rather than “What’s wrong with you?”
In both Clatsop and Columbia counties, conversations about ACEs and the challenges that children and their parents face inspired a coordinated trauma informed response. Community partners, together with Columbia Pacific CCO, are creating trauma informed networks in each county. These networks bring together providers and organizations from critical sectors to change the community context around childhood trauma, build resilience and improve health and life outcomes for children and families.
The targeted sectors include education, healthcare, child welfare, criminal justice, business and the community. Through the network, systems come together to coordinate and improve trauma informed strategies, provide tools and promote the adoption and/or expansion of TIC across sectors and services. The network is led by a steering committee made up of local leaders.
In December 2019, both steering committees convened a strategic planning workshop and invited local organizations to develop a strategic plan to address childhood trauma. The long-term goal is to build resilience in children, families and communities as part of building a shared agenda for the emerging network in each county.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, both steering committees were organizing sector specific workgroups and inviting relevant community partners to join the networks in preparation to officially launch. While the official network launch has been pushed back in both counties due to the pandemic, member organizations are utilizing the networks as a space for coordination and learning – while working together on shared projects to reduce childhood trauma. In close collaboration with both networks, Columbia Pacific rolled out an online collaboration platform to support virtual communication and collaboration across the networks. Even though they can’t physically come together, they now have an avenue to regularly connect through this platform and hold virtual meetings. Member organizations have reported that it’s a crucial piece in learning from each other, discussing challenges and successes, sharing resources and identifying support needed from others in the network. We are committed to building the partnerships and systems needed to drive this work forward, together, and to improve trauma informed initiatives in each county.
Questions about or interested in joining Columbia Pacific CCO’s Trauma Informed Networks in your community? Contact Angel Escobedo at email@example.com.