November 20, 2016

Pete HaackJustice Matters0 Comments

An interfaith network of 23 faith groups working for justice in Lawrence and Douglas County

Childhood Concerns and Justice Matters

History: In the fall of 2014, Justice Matters organized small group discussions across Lawrence and surfaced issues around the welfare of children. When Justice Matters brought together 400 people to choose the top three concerns they had for the city – child welfare was ranked number two on the list. Justice Matters leaders researched what could be done to improve the health and well-being of children. The research team learned about the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Study which is derived from a simple survey with ten questions that explore the trauma a person may have experienced during childhood.

Problem: Childhood trauma, defined as exposure to three or more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), poses a significant public health issue for Lawrence. (ACEs include experiences such as child abuse and neglect, parental mental illness, substance abuse, incarceration, divorce, and domestic violence.) In a Kaiser Health and Center for Disease Control study 12% of the 18,000 people surveyed had an ACE score of 4 or more regardless of class, race, or ethnicity A survey estimates that 1 in 5 Douglas County children have experienced childhood trauma putting them at risk for lifelong physical, learning, and mental health problems which can transmitted to future generations.

Recommendations: On April 14, 2016, 1,300 people gathered at the Lied Center to demonstrate public support for the solutions proposed to deal with ACEs. That night, the Directors of 5 organizations that work with preschool aged children pledged to work to bring Lemonade for Life and Trauma Smart to Lawrence. Lemonade for Life is a 6 hour evidenced-informed training on trauma and resilience developed at KU and targeted to home visitors working with parents of children birth to age 3. Trauma Smart is a 10 month evidence based training designed by Crittenden Center (St. Luke’s – Kansas City) for child care and preschool professionals (age 3-5) which includes training, support by coaching, consultation, and parent engagement.

St. John’s Ministry: Childhood Trauma presents a justice issue that St. John parishioners can help address. For further information about ACEs and how you can become involved, you can contact Joe Snyder at joesnyder42@gmail.com or at 785-550-6421.

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