Mobilizing the Knowledge of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Prevention and Proactive Supports for Alberta’s Children, Youth and Families

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are defined as negative, stressful, traumatizing events that occur before age 18, and are divided into 10 categories that fall under abuse, neglect and household dysfunction. These experiences create toxic stress. Children with ongoing toxic stress are more at risk to develop patterns of adaptive and physiological disruptions that can compromise health over the lifespan.

The purpose of this project is to advance policy and practice on Action #11 of the Valuing Mental Health Next Steps Initiative by proactively supporting Albertans with ACEs with a focus on children and youth, and improving intergenerational health and well-being outcomes.

The objective is to build, share and mobilize a knowledge platform in order to advance the uptake and coordinate the application of ACEs in Alberta using common language, best evidence and promising practices related to preventing and proactively supporting Alberta’s children and youth at risk of negative health consequences associated with ACEs.

 Key Activities and Outputs:

1. An environmental scan was completed on the current state of the evidence and status of ACEs prevention and treatment work in Alberta and internationally related to proactive supports and early intervention for children, youth and families.

2. From the evidence collected, a Framework for Action was created to reduce generational ACEs, strengthen communities, and decrease social costs. This Framework outlines three levels of change that are required to accelerate a brain science, ACEs and resilience informed approach in Alberta. Nine guiding principles and twelve priority strategy areas are also included in this Framework.

3. A one day convening was held that brought together 100 thought leaders and potential change agents in the province from across sectors and disciplines. A post-convening report was compiled of high-level discussion on the Framework for Action, recommendations for practice and policy, and considerations for implementation.

Agencies Background:

PolicyWise is a not-for-profit organization incorporated in 2003 with a mandate to improve child, family and community well-being through leading, creating and mobilizing research and evaluation for evidence-informed social policy and practice.

The Children’s Mental Health Science Policy Practice Network (SPPN) was established in 2007 to mobilize the science of children’s mental health and addictions to inform policy development and implementation by engaging policy makers, practitioners, funders, researchers and educators from across disciplines.