Stressful events that happen in our early years of development affect us in ways that last our entire lives. Science tells us that from our birth, our brains are growing and adjusting to our environment. Whether traumatic, friendly, threatening or soothing, our experiences get wired into our biology.
Importance of Supporting Families
In Washington state, there is an alarming trend: Children today have higher ACE scores than their parents. Parents and caregivers who have their own history of experience with trauma or stress are raising children who have more such experiences.
Without high levels of resilience, and without a history of safe, nurturing relationships, parents might struggle to create strong foundation for their children – or protect them from the long-term effects that trauma and stress can have.
“What is wrong with this parent?” is not the right question. Instead ask, “What happened to this parent?” Then, “What is the best response?”
As caregivers and as their children’s first and most important teachers, parents deserve the highest quality support that honors their experience and expertise – as well as recognizes the ways that they have overcome barriers in their own lives to try to create the best life for their children.
What This Means for Early Learning and Other Systems
A lot of systems are well-informed about the science. The next steps are what individuals and organizations are considering.
Washington has been a national leader in creating networks to use the latest research and data to inform policies and practices.
At Thrive Washington, we are launching efforts to use a trauma-informed lens on our work in partnerships, advocacy and grant-making.
Among the efforts in Washington that address issues related to NEAR Science:
- Adverse Childhood Experiences Public-Private Partnership: APPI evaluates initiatives and has a shared funding pool. It also created a network to map efforts related to ACEs and share information. Learn more
- ACEs Connection Network: This community of practice uses trauma-informed, resilience-building practices to prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and to change systems to stop traumatizing already traumatized people. Learn more
- Essentials for Childhood (state Department of Health): This effort, aligned with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Violence Prevention, prevents child abuse and neglect by providing the protective factors we want for ALL children: safety, stability and nurturing in the child’s environment. Learn more
- Strengthening Families (state Department of Early Learning): Building on the work previously done by the Council for Children & Families, Strengthening Families reaches out to parents and encircles them with support to protect children and build stronger communities overall. Learn more