ACEs champions Danette Glass of Alpharetta, Georgia, and Becky Haas, of Johnson City, Tennessee, work in different -- yet similar -- ways to see systems of care change to help prevent and heal adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and to help individuals and communities increase resilience.
On Friday, July 24 at noon PDT/3 p.m. EDT, these friends and expert community organizers will share their approaches. Haas has worked from the inside out, most recently as the ACEs educator for a regional healthcare system and previously in a similar role with local law enforcement. Glass has often worked from the outside in, to improve systems of care or create her own to effect change.
Haas, the author of a toolkit shared in ACEs Connection Growing Resilient Communities (Building a Trauma-Informed System of Care), learned about ACEs in 2014, while working with police to reduce drug-related and violent crime.
“Listening to stories of childhood abuse and neglect experienced by many in the justice system planted the thought in my mind that trauma was really the gateway drug. Though childhood trauma is not an excuse for drugs or crime, instead it now offered an explanation for it. I reasoned no one picks where they start in life and some of the hardship and abuse people experienced was through no fault of their own. Instead of communities focusing their efforts on a war on drugs (which those efforts don’t seem to be winning), we should shift our focus to a war on trauma...and so my journey began.”
Glass heard about the ACE Study in 2017 while working on a project for adjudicated youth that was funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. She realized the level of trauma exposure for young people was at an all-time high. The heightened level of family trauma and community trauma concerned her tremendously.
Following time in corporate America, Glass began her career as a consultant and community organizer. She now relies on decades of experience as well as tools from ACES Connection and tools she herself has created, such as a poverty simulator, to help community leaders, including elected officials, educators, healthcare providers and law enforcement, learn about the challenges of living in poverty and toxic childhood stress. Throughout her 30-year tenure in juvenile justice and youth development, Glass has worked with more than 30,000 teens, seeking to provide them with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills to help them succeed. She also worked with youth to share what are now called “positive childhood experiences,” and consulted with the courts to help teens get needed services. She and her team also have been doing research on the inequity in health care for Black women who are, in some states, twice as likely to die in childbirth as White women.
Glass and Haas are bonded in part by their common missions of breaking down barriers and bringing greater loving kindness into the world. They are excited to come together to discuss how they are working from within and outside systems of care to help cross-sector groups improve individual and community resiliency.
“We hope people will take away how vitally important it is to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community -- a ‘beloved community’ -- especially right now, as things will get worse as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic," says Glass.
“After the crisis, we are going to see an escalation of reported trauma exposure because right now young people in homes are not able to communicate the maltreatment they are experiencing,” she says. “Lack of accountability has left some young people vulnerable to being abused while school districts are in this virtual or digital learning setting."
The coronavirus crisis also affects the mental health of parents, who are themselves traumatized. “And if they do not know how to manage or control their emotions in a positive manner, sometimes their children become the target of their frustration,” Glass says. “We need to be prepared to help. That’s a big part of what building community resilience is about: helping in the day-to-day and being prepared for traumas. That this is one of the greatest threats in modern times makes our work all the more urgent."
To register for this A Better Normal webinar, please click here or use the link below.