On September 19, NJ Spotlight hosted a roundtable event, “Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): How Social Factors Affect Young People’s Health and What Can Be Done?” featuring leaders from the healthcare, government, and philanthropic sectors. Moderated by Lilo Stainton, an NJ Spotlight reporter, the panel included Arturo Brito, executive director of The Nicholson Foundation; Denise Rodgers, vice chancellor for inter-professional programs at Rutgers School of Biomedical and Health Sciences; Dr. Kemi Alli, CEO of the Henry J. Austin Health Center; Christine Beyer, commissioner of the state Department of Children and Families; and Tracy Parris-Benjamin, director of clinical design and community health at Horizon.
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) – like physical abuse, sexual abuse, and parental incarceration or divorce – can take a lifelong toll on kids who suffer them. Panelists had an opportunity to discuss the connections between childhood trauma and negative physical, mental, and social outcomes that can carry into adulthood. These outcomes include physical health problems and chemical changes in the brains of children, as well as addiction, violence and other problems as adults.
The roundtable touched on how traumas present to healthcare providers; what the state and communities are doing to prevent and reduce the impact of various ACES; and how we can improve the Garden State’s system to protect and care for families.
Four in ten New Jersey youths are found to be impacted by at least one ACE, according to a recent report from the New Jersey Funders ACEs Collaborative. “Everyone in this room – in this state – can be involved by visiting the New Jersey ACEs Report microsite and giving feedback to help advance a state plan for ACEs in New Jersey,” said Brito.