Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

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Together we CAN: CULTIVATE ACEs informed education, take ACTION to reduce the effects of ACEs and prevent child abuse, and promote and NURTURE protective factors.

WHAT are ACEs and WHY do they matter?

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events that happen to children and are linked with changes in brain regulation caused by chronic stress. Research findings, across all demographics, show that children who live with childhood adversities - such as domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, parental incarceration, caregivers with mental illness or addiction - suffer much higher rates of chronic health conditions, lower school and adult success and lower life expectancy across their lives. ACEs can be compounded when low-income families face additional challenges accessing resources needed to buffer their children from such hardships.

Five of the ten ACEs are related to child abuse and neglect.

However, there is hope! By ensuring that families with adversity live in supportive communities and in the presence of nurturing, protective caregivers, children can build resilience and be protected from the negative impacts of adversity. With the right support and systems in place, ACEs can be overcome.

We Can Prevent ACEs

In 2017, Cook Children's, along with the office of Tarrant County Judge B. Glen Whitley, the office of City of Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, the office of Tarrant County Commissioner Roy C. Brooks, JPS Health Network and Read Fort Worth convened to form the ACEs Task Force. Using a two-generation approach, the focus of the Task Force is on reducing the impact of ACEs on children prenatal to five years of age and prevent ongoing adversity for families, in order to improve school readiness, literacy, and overall child well-being. This concept bridges decades of research across multiple disciplines into community action by seeking new strategies to help families connect with early, protective supports to promote their child's healthy development.

With guidance from all sectors of the community, the ACEs Task Force committed to piloting a parent-oriented, community-driven solution that reduces the impact of adversities and increases school readiness for families with children who are prenatal to five years of age—the most critical period for brain development.

The ACEs Early Childhood Initiative utilizes a multi-strategy approach that involves broad, Tarrant County-wide impact, while also concentrating considerable efforts on the Stop Six community and the larger geographic area within the 76105 zip code of Fort Worth. These strategies have included the creation of the Circles of Support community blueprint, the development of a system to allow families to search for local resources using text messaging, as well as a pilot program to engage families in Stop Six around opportunities for them to learn more about their child's development and connect with resources that promote child health and well-being.

As we move into the third year of the ACEs Early Childhood Initiative, our goals are:

  • Implement cross-systems community policies and practices to reduce the long-term effects of ACEs on children
  • Provide ACEs-informed education to support community services
  • Reduce the long-term effects of ACEs and increase protective factors for caregivers and children

Our Team

Jayme Coffman, M.D.
Medical Director, CARE Team

Lenee Bassham, MSSW
Director, Child Safety

Breanna Anderson
Program Manager

Frances Wampler, MA
MA Program Coordinator

Ashley Jackson, MPH, CHW
Program Coordinator

LaToya Jones, CHW
Community Health Worker

Events and education

Taming the Tech Monster

5 min (Virtual - Recording)

This short video will 1) help parents understand the positive and negative aspects of technology use in their families, 2) help parents realize how excessive technology use impacts their child’s intellectual and emotional development, and 3) help parents develop a plan for managing both their use of technology and overseeing the safe, appropriate use of technology for their children.

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What’s Driving your Decision? COVID-19 Vaccine Information Training, Webinar 1: "Addressing the Science of the Vaccines & Clinical Trials"

25 min. (Virtual - Recording)

One of a series of trainings committed to providing timely and evidence based information on the COVID-19 vaccine. This video, presented by an infectious disease pediatrician, will look into the science, development, safety, and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States. Hosted by the Center for Children’s Health led by Cook Children’s, Tarrant County Public Health, Early Learning Alliance, the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. Follow the links here to register for a vaccine or find a vaccination site near you: :Tarrant County Strong; Texas Health Resources; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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What’s Driving your Decision? COVID-19 Vaccine Information Training, Webinar 2: “Panel Discussion: Why did I get vaccinated?”

45 min. (Virtual - Recording)

One of a series of trainings committed to providing timely and evidence based information on the COVID-19 vaccine. This panel discussion includes panelists from varying faiths, organizations, and roles. They will discuss what led to their choice to be vaccinated as well as barriers and challenges they have seen in their respective communities. Hosted by the Center for Children’s Health led by Cook Children’s, Tarrant County Public Health, Early Learning Alliance, the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. Follow the links here to register for a vaccine or find a vaccination site near you: :Tarrant County Strong; Texas Health Resources; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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What’s Driving your Decision? COVID-19 Vaccine Information Training, Webinar 3: “Myths: Addressing Barriers & Questions”

30 min. (Virtual - Recording)

One of a series of trainings committed to providing timely and evidence based information on the COVID-19 vaccine. This video includes a variety of presenters and will address different myths that have circulated related to the COVID-19 vaccine as well as barriers or concerns that people from different faiths or populations have related to receiving the vaccine. Hosted by the Center for Children’s Health led by Cook Children’s, Tarrant County Public Health, Early Learning Alliance, the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. Follow the links here to register for a vaccine or find a vaccination site near you: :Tarrant County Strong; Texas Health Resources; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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What’s Driving your Decision? COVID-19 Vaccine Information Training, Webinar 4: “COVID-19 Vaccines & Specific Populations”

40 min. (Virtual - Recording)

One of a series of trainings committed to providing timely and evidence based information on the COVID-19 vaccine. This video, presented by a Public Health Department Assistant Medical Director, will look into specific challenges and concerns that certain populations have with regard to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. This video will offer tips and considerations for pregnant and breastfeeding women, people who are immunocompromised, and children. Hosted by the Center for Children’s Health led by Cook Children’s, Tarrant County Public Health, Early Learning Alliance, the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. Follow the links here to register for a vaccine or find a vaccination site near you: :Tarrant County Strong; Texas Health Resources; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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“¿Qué está impulsando su decisión?: Información sobre la vacuna de COVID-19”

40 min. (Virtual - Recording)

Este video, con una pediatra de enfermedades infecciosas, va a examinar la ciencia, seguridad y eficacia de la vacuna de COVID-19 utilizado en los Estados Unidos. Presentado en colaboración con el Center for Children’s Health dirigido por Cook Children’s, Tarrant County Public Health, Early Learning Alliance y la Universidad de North Texas Health Science Center en Fort Worth. Para registrar para su vacuna de COVID-19 o para encontrar una clínica para recibir su vacuna sigue uno de estos enlaces:Tarrant County Strong; Texas Health Resources; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Child Abuse and Neglect 101

25 mins. (Virtual - Recording)

This educational video, presented by the Child Protective Services (CPS) Liaison at Cook Children’s Medical Center, is available for community professionals. This training will define types of child abuse and neglect and how to recognize the signs, as well as the process for reporting suspected abuse and what to expect from CPS after a report is made.

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The Current Status of Child Abuse and Neglect in Texas

19 mins. (Virtual - Recording)

This educational video, presented by the Child Protective Services (CPS) Liaison at Cook Children’s Medical Center, is available for community professionals. This training will identify the goals of CPS and Child Protective Investigations (CPI) in Texas as well as discuss current data related to child abuse and neglect and the process and requirements for reporting suspicions of abuse.

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The Importance of Positive Childhood Experiences: An Introduction for Caregivers

13 min. (Virtual - Recording)

This is a short training developed for caregivers to discuss Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs), how important they are to the emotional and physical well-being of a child, and also provide examples of how to nurture PCEs at home.

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Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) 101

40 mins. (Virtual - Recording)

This recorded training will define what Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are and identify key terms related to ACEs. Viewers will understand the long term impact of ACEs on individuals and the community as well as consider strategies to prevent the impact of ACEs. Additionally, the trainer will illustrate the difference between ACEs and Positive Childhood Experiences.

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Report suspicion of abuse or neglect

If the child is in immediate danger, call 911. If you need to report a suspicion of abuse or neglect, call 1-800-252-5400 or for non-urgent reports go to txabusehotline.org.

Texas law requires that any person suspecting that a child has been abused or neglected must immediately make a report.