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New Toolkit Issued to Help Providers Measure Trauma With ACES Survey

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A new toolkit is out that aims to help services providers give a survey about traumatic childhood experiences that are linked to negative effects on health and well-being.

The toolkit, developed by The National Crittenton Foundation, offers recommendations about the Adverse Childhood Experiences survey, including how to talk to children and parents about the survey, track results and use the data for public education and policy advocacy.

The ACES survey grew out of a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente that examined the links between traumatic experiences and well-being. The survey asks about experiences such as abuse, neglect and exposure to mental illness and alcohol or drug addiction.

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The survey has become a popular tool to measure what individuals have experienced and help them get the assistance they need. It also can be used to educate the public and policymakers about the links between trauma and health outcomes, according to the toolkit.

“This can be an important beginning for discussion about ways the community can come together to recognize trauma and contribute to the healing process,” NCTF wrote in the toolkit.

The toolkit traces TNCF’s experiences administering the survey, especially what researchers have learned about the experiences of girls and young women.

Survey results from within Crittenton’s network of providers showed that 53 percent of girls and 61 percent of young mothers had an ACEs score of 4 or more on a 10-point scale. A score of 4 or more increases the risk of emphysema or chronic bronchitis by nearly 400 percent and suicide by 1,200 percent, according to the original study.

“We now know more than ever of the negative impact that childhood adversity and the trauma that results from exposure can cause. We have also seen firsthand the incredible resiliency and healing that young women are capable of,” TNCF President Jeannette Pai-Espinosa said in a press release.

The toolkit also includes a sample protocol, case studies and testimonials from women who took the survey.

In one, a woman named Cassaundra wrote that her ACES results changed how she thought about her life.

“The ACE information proved to me that I am a survivor and not a damaged person full of blame and shame. Most importantly, I know it is in my power to take actions to protect my children from exposure to adverse experiences — I can stop the cycle that is my family legacy,” she said.

TNCF released the toolkit in partnership with Ascend at the Aspen Institute.

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