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  • Writer's pictureCAPC

Board recognizes ACES, CAP Month

Updated: Apr 3, 2019

On April 2, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution recognizing April as ACEs Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, are traumatic experiences that occur early in life, including child abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual), child neglect (physical and emotional), and household dysfunction (exposure to domestic violence, substance abuse, untreated mental illness, incarcerated family member and parental separation).

Research over the last 20 years has found that ACEs can actually alter a child’s brain development (through prolonged exposure to stress hormones, a phenomenon known as toxic stress), and that experiencing multiple ACEs in childhood is strongly correlated with a higher risk of physical and behavioral health problems in adulthood.

Fortunately, there are things we can do to reduce children’s exposure to ACEs, address the impact of ACEs through early intervention, and positively impact future health outcomes through investments in preventative health care and mental wellness for vulnerable children.

With ACEs awareness, we have the opportunity to expand our understanding of child abuse—to explain the science behind trauma and toxic stress, and to understand why children from hard places and difficult circumstances might struggle in school and in life.

With this resolution, we expand our definition of child abuse beyond the legal mandates of Child Welfare Services, and we recognize the critical importance of primary prevention in buffering children from adversity.

Research has confirmed that childhood adversity is not limited to any particular group. Exposure to harsh parenting, family violence, parental separation or divorce, substance abuse or mental illness can have a profound effect on children’s developing brains and bodies regardless of family income or zip code.

Here in Santa Barbara County, we are fortunate to have broad, cross-sector support for the growing ACEs movement. We have innovative projects and evidence-based interventions taking root in our health care clinics, schools, family resource centers, and human service organizations. There are boots on the ground every day promoting effective strategies for well-being that strengthen protective factors, and support hope and healing.

With this resolution, the Board is now part of the movement! We thank the Board for supporting public awareness and early intervention to reduce exposure and address the impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences.

From left: CALM Program Director Director Deborah Holmes, CAPC Director Barbara Finch, County Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann.

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