Sonoma County gets grant to fight childhood-trauma impacts

Sonoma County was selected as one of 14 communities across the country to take part in a project to expand its innovative work in addressing adverse childhood experiences.

It’s an opportunity to expand local solutions to prevent traumatic childhood experiences that are linked to poor health outcomes later in life, according to county health officials

Each of the 14 communities - from Tarpon Springs, Fla., to Alaska - will receive grants of $100,000–$300,000 and join a two-year learning collaborative where they will share best practices, try new approaches and become models for other communities in implementing effective solutions for combating adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs.

Sonoma County Department of Health Services Public Health Division will work with Sonoma County Upstream Investments and community partners to implement the project, called Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities, or MARC. The project was launched and is funded by the Health Federation of Philadelphia, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The California Endowment.

The project will foster solutions to prevent traumatic childhood experiences like neglect, abuse and abandonment, in families throughout the nation. ACEs are linked to lifelong impacts on children’s health and behavior and the communities they live in, health advocates said.

“There can be no culture of health without preventing or healing the impact of childhood adversity and trauma,” said Natalie Levkovich, CEO of the Health Federation. “The 14 communities selected for MARC are leading the nation’s most innovative efforts to reduce ACEs and promote resilience.”

Each of the communities have already made significant strides in addressing childhood trauma, most by forming diverse coalitions across sectors that bridge the work of health care and social service providers, educators, policy-makers, law enforcement officials, business leaders and community members.

Most importantly, all communities have raised awareness of the significant impact ACEs have on children and families, which a growing body of research shows can leave long term tracks on the developing brain.

“These states, counties and cities are living laboratories that can teach all of us what it takes to transform cycles of trauma into a culture of health,” said Martha Davis, senior program officer for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Anyone who is interested in strengthening the resilience of their community should pay attention to what these communities are doing.”

The project’s advisers include leading researchers, health care providers and policy-makers in the field of ACEs and resilience.

California was the only state with two counties chosen to participate in the project. San Diego Trauma Informed Guide Team and Building Healthy Communities Central Region (Harmonium, Inc.) was also selected.

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