Our community has embarked upon a year-long community trauma learning collaborative dedicated to ensuring that our children and youth are screened, assessed and treated for trauma utilizing evidence-based instruments and treatment modalities. The Medical University of South Carolina is implementing the training. This is among the largest collaboratives of its kind, including the breadth and diversity of engaged systems and organizations.
As you are aware, the relationship between childhood trauma—as reflected by the accumulation of adverse childhood experiences—and child and adult morbidities and mortality has become increasingly evident. The Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) studies (http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/) conducted by Kaiser Permanente among middle and upper income families, documented this relationship in a landmark study that began 20 years ago. Since its publication, efforts have been underway by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to integrate screening and responding to childhood trauma as part of the Medical Home practice of pediatricians. Multiple resources are available to primary care pediatricians, many of which can be found at the website for the AAP Resilience Project listed below. Other resources available to pediatricians to help them establish trauma-informed practices are also listed, including the AAP’s Trauma Toolkit.
Implementation of the ACE Questionnaire is a critical first step in developing a trauma informed practice. The screening tool generates an ACE Score based on answers to 10 questions. The child’s risk for subsequent physical, mental, behavioral and social health and well-being correlates with the ACE score. (See link to screening tool at the end of this article.)
Over the next year, the Partnership and System of Care Initiative (SOCI) will be working with pediatricians and pediatric practices to introduce them to the importance of identifying and addressing trauma in children and steps they can take to become a trauma informed practice. New resources are being developed in our community through the work of the Partnership and SOCI to ensure pediatricians have access to the care they need for their patients who are identified as being at risk secondary to exposure to childhood trauma.
To add to the excitement the collaborative has introduced a screening tool that our community hopes will be adopted by all pediatricians. Over the next year, 119 therapists, case managers, supervisors and senior leaders representing 16 organizations that serve children, youth and families will have put into practice intensive treatment sessions and weekly and monthly metrics, that are derived from this tool.
These efforts are very critical given that upwards of 90% of children and youth in our systems (child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health) have experienced trauma and a significant percentage of those will meet the criteria for PTSD, making identification and treatment of these children and youth paramount to their wellbeing.
You can review the tool at: