Fifty percent of Texas children ages 17 and under have gone through at least one adverse childhood experience. How can a trauma-informed approach to providing health care, education and other services benefit individuals who experienced trauma at an early age?
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are traumas experienced by youth that disrupt healthy development and alter the way the brain and body respond to stress.
ACEs can include abuse, neglect or a dysfunctional household situation like substance abuse, mental illness or violence in the home or community. It’s estimated that at least one in seven children have experienced child abuse or neglect within the past year, according to the Center for Disease Control.
ACEs are linked to health problems including depression, anxiety, chronic health conditions, substance abuse and early death, as well as negative social outcomes like a decreased change of succeeding at school.
Trauma-informed care takes into account a person’s history of trauma when providing services. This approach employs principles of safety, choice, collaboration, trustworthiness and empowerment to reduce the possibility of re-traumatization and increase the effectiveness of services.
A local collaborative is working to create a more trauma-informed Bexar County by shifting the focus during care from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”
What does a trauma-informed approach look like in practice? What are the evidence-based benefits of providing this kind of care?
What are the long-term community effects of generations of people with untreated trauma? What is the best approach for reducing the effects of ACEs for individuals and the community?
Are there any efforts to create policy or pass legislation to address ACEs and trauma-informed care?
- Colleen Bridger, director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District and tri-chair of the South Texas Trauma Informed Care Consortium
- Kathy Fletcher, president and CEO of Voices for Children of San Antonio and tri-chair of the South Texas Trauma Informed Care Consortium
- Yvette Sanchez, COO of the Children’s Shelter San Antonio and tri-chair of the South Texas Trauma Informed Care Consortium
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*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, May 8.