Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
St. Joseph County is ranked 55th out of 92 counties in Indiana for overall health. There are dozens of factors that contribute to this low ranking, and many of them are related to children, families, and poverty.
In this context of high child poverty, limited childcare availability, and families that need to tap into government services to make ends meet, Adverse Childhood Experiences can thrive. The St. Joseph County Department of Health is working to prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and strengthen Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs). This shared emphasis on Positive and Adverse Childhood Experiences is commonly known as PACEs.
What Are Adverse Childhood Experiences?
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood (0-17 years). ACEs are linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance use problems in adulthood. ACEs can also negatively impact education, job opportunities, and earning potential. Fortunately, ACEs and their negative outcomes can be prevented.
Our goal is to prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences in St. Joseph County.
- Objective 1: Increase the Department of Health’s knowledge base around ACEs.
- Objective 2: Increase ACE awareness across the county, focusing on individual and systems-level behavior change.
- Objective 3: Produce materials that give ACE-aware entities the tools to enact change.
- Objective 4: Develop a surveillance system to better understand the prevalence and/or impact of ACEs in St. Joseph County.
- Objective 5: Create a system for data and resource sharing across county stakeholders.
- Objective 6: Connect ACEs science and prevention with relevant policies to improve local, state, and national governmental ACE prevention efforts.
The Department of Health’s six objectives for ACE Prevention have been grouped into four project areas.
Current ACE Prevention efforts are focused on developing the capacity to make data driven decisions in the future. Each of the three active project outputs seeks to identify and collect actionable ACEs-related data.
Clinical ACEs Partnerships The Department of Health is working with the E Blair Warner clinic and Primary Care Partners of South Bend to use the ACEs survey and incorporate ACEs science and trauma-informed practices into their patient care models.
Collective Community Action The Department of Health is developing a shared ACEs surveillance and response strategy with ~20 local nonprofits who serve children and families in St. Joseph County.
Contact us if you are interested in learning more about ACEs or supporting the Department of Health as we work to prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences. We welcome volunteers of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. Whether you have professional experiences or are simply passionate about helping children and families, we want to hear from you!
Frank Spesia, M. Ed, MGA
Public Health Fellow