Martha Davis, executive director of the Institute for Safe for Safe Families, and Kristin Schubert, team director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, write about the history and prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Neuroscientists have found that traumatic childhood events like abuse and neglect can create dangerous levels of stress and derail healthy brain development, putting young brains in permanent "fight or flight" mode. What scientists often refer to as "toxic stress" has damaging long-term effects on learning, behavior, and health. Very young children are especially vulnerable.
Last year, the Institute for Safe Families, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and others, formed the Philadelphia Adverse Childhood Experiences Task Force to help local doctors and nurses, mental health counselors, and advocates recognize the symptoms of toxic stress and develop ways to protect children from its damaging effects. As a first step, the Task Force conducted a citywide survey of more than 1,700 residents to understand the prevalence of the problem.
The results are tragic.
Learn about the findings and the applications for social workers, police departments, educators, doctors, and nurses in the full article, Early Trauma, Lasting Damage, on philly.com
A recent report, “Advancing Recovery: Implementing Evidence-Based Treatment for Substance Use Disorders at the Systems Level”, examined the process and outcomes of Advancing Recovery—a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation initiative—to overcome barriers to implementing evidence-based treatments within alcohol and drug treatment systems.
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The researchers conducted a 3-year, mixed-method study of treatment systems as well as two evidence-based practices: medication-assisted treatment and continuing care management.
Detaining Youth Instead of Confining the Problem
The Juvenile Justice Work Group of the Youth Transition Funders Group recently released the third edition of “Juvenile Justice Reform: A Blueprint.” According to the report, 2.2 million juveniles are arrested and 400,000 youth cycle through juvenile detention centers each year. Noting that “50 to 70 percent of youth released from juvenile correctional facilities are rearrested within two to three years,” the report suggests a critical problem exists within the juvenile justice system nationwide.
As part of a movement to view youth incarceration as an option of last resort, The Blueprint outlines this framework:
1.Divert youth from the justice system
3.Eliminate racial and ethnic disparity
4.Ensure access to quality counsel
5.Create a range of effective community-based programs
6.Recognize ad serve youth with specialized needs
7.Build small rehabilitative facilities
8.Improve aftercare and reentry
9.Engage youth, family and community
10.Keep youth out of adult courts, jails and prisons
Reclaiming Futures is highlighted in the report as a successful initiative that has helped divert troubled youth from confinement in juvenile correctional facilities. Founded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Reclaiming Futures model helps communities systematically identify and address youth with specialized needs, by connecting them to the proper resources and support needed to address underlying mental health and/or substance abuse issues.
The Blueprints for Violence Prevention project identified other successful models including Multisystemic Therapy (MST), Functional Family Therapy (FFT) and Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care (MTFC). Each of these models emphasizes the important role of family, is cost-effective and has shown promising results.