Released by: Health Services
For Immediate Release

Sonoma County ACEs & Resiliency Fellowship Begins

Santa Rosa, CA  –  October 25, 2016  –  The Sonoma County Department of Health Services (DHS) announces the start of an Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) & Resiliency Fellowship that will train 25 community members to serve our county as community educators. This fellowship is unique to Sonoma County and is being launched at a time when community members and service providers are increasingly seeking out information about how to prevent and heal from adverse childhood experiences. 

Preventing childhood adversity is being recognized as one of the best ways to improve the wellbeing of human populations. Recent research on ACEs confirms that adversity during early childhood development increases the risk of physical, mental, and behavioral problems later in life. Individuals with high levels of ACEs have significantly worse health outcomes across the lifespan than those without ACEs. Negative impacts include a wide range of health and social issues, including depression, addiction, obesity, and homelessness. High levels of adversity in childhood leads to what is known as toxic stress, which generates predictable patterns in brain development. A child’s early experience causes the brain to adapt to what it predicts will be either a safe or dangerous world. The impact on younger children can be devastating. Exposure to ACEs puts our children at higher risk for learning difficulties, emotional problems, developmental issues, and long-term health problems. 

“Sonoma County is leading the way on strengthening the resilience in our community. We must continue to focus on how Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are linked in all our cultures and homes. This fellowship will support peers, individuals and the community as we explore how we can change the way we think about community problems and solutions,” Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane conveyed. Supervisor Zane is the Board liaison to the Department of Health Services.

These fellows will participate in a nine-month intensive program to learn in-depth about toxic stress, trauma and ACEs. The launch of the fellowship featured a two-day training session led by Dr. Robert Anda and Laura Porter, which occurred last week on October 18 and October 19. Dr. Anda was the co-principal investigator of a groundbreaking research project titled “ACE Study” that was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the late 1990s. Laura Porter is the co-founder of ACE Interface, LLC. With Dr. Anda, Porter develops and disseminates educational products and empowerment strategies on ACES and population health. Porter concurrently serves as the Senior Director of The Learning Institute at the Foundation for Healthy Generations. 

ACEs are largely preventable. This new fellowship helps our community focus on the childhood origins of ACEs and work to prevent the many associated health risks and the health and social problems that develop over the course of one’s life. With this fellowship, we have the opportunity for primary prevention of the leading health and social problems in our community. These program participants will focus on how our county can eventually become a more resilient community that is informed by education, community feedback and resident engagement.

“Research over the last two decades confirms that children carry the effects of childhood experiences into adulthood. The challenges they face in school, life and ultimately, their health are often the symptoms of toxic stress. With this fellowship, DHS is providing support for our community to come together and address ACEs,” DHS Interim Director Barbie Robinson said. 

The 25 fellows will serve as Master Trainers to then take their training and education to train 35 individuals as Presenters in the community. Together, they will raise the awareness about resources to build resiliency and the public health impacts of ACEs. The 25 trainers were selected from a competitive application process that presented a range of community sectors and experiences. The entire list is available on Sonoma County ACEs Connection

The ACEs & Resiliency Fellowship is funded in part by The Health Federation of Philadelphia (with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The California Endowment) through the Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC) grant to the Department of Health Services. Sonoma County is one of 14 communities across the nation to receive this funding to expand innovative work in addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences.


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