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'A Better Normal:' Can universal ACEs screening be equitable? -- Concerns and solutions


Can universal ACEs screening be equitable? A conversation about concerns and solutions.

When: Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2-3:30 pm PDT/5-6:30 pm EDT

This webinar explores what it takes to ensure that equity is built into the process of screening and providing support for families who have experienced trauma and want help.



At the beginning of this year, California, through the ACEs Aware initiative began rolling out universal screening for adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), under the leadership of the Department of Health Care Services and the state’s surgeon general, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris. Burke Harris is a pediatrician and founder of the Center for Youth Wellness. In her book, “The Deepest Well,” she discusses how learning about ACEs changed the way she practiced medicine.

The approved tool for ACEs screening of pediatric patients in California is called the PEARLS tool. It was developed by a team of clinicians and researchers from the University of California at San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, the UCSF School of Medicine and the Center for Youth Wellness, with feedback from focus groups of patients. The tool includes questions about abuse and neglect, as well as whether a child has experienced such things as bullying at school or discrimination based on race or gender orientation, has witnessed violence in the community, and has been separated from a parent due to foster care or immigration. The screener also asks whether a family ever faced eviction or worried about having enough food, among other questions about basic needs. Answering the PEARLS questions is voluntary.

Training through a learning collaborative known as CALQIC is underway for health care providers from more than 50 safety net sites around California on how to implement systemwide practices that create safe environments for addressing trauma and reducing disparities. More than 100 additional recipients of grants from the state’s ACEs Aware Initiative are developing training and other learning opportunities to support clinics in healing trauma.

Here's who's on the panel:

IngridCockhrenIngrid Cockhren is ACEs Connection’s Midwest community facilitator. She will speak about the history of racism in medicine.  Cockhren graduated from Tennessee State University with a B.S. in psychology and Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College with a M.Ed. in child studies. Her research areas are African American parenting styles, ACEs science, historical trauma and its intergenerational transmission, brain development, developmental psychology and epigenetics.

Cockhren is an adjunct professor specializing in developmental psychology at Tennessee State University. She chairs the Parent & Community Education Committee for ACE Nashville. She also serves as an advisor on both the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research’s Community Engaged Research Core Advisory Council and the Lloyd C. Elam Mental Health Center’s Advisory Board. She’s also worked with the Nashville Public Schools and the State Office of Child Safety among other institutions, agencies and organizations.


Dr. R.J. Gillespie is a pediatrician with The Children’s Clinic in Portland, Oregon. Nationally, he was an early adopter of ACEs screening. He will discuss why his practice chose to identify parents' ACEs rather than children's, and how he has built trust with patients around ACEs screening.

Gillespie attended medical school at Oregon Health Sciences University, graduating in 1997, and completed his residency and chief residency at Rush Children’s Hospital in Chicago in 2001. He earned a master’s in health professions education from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 2007.

DrShandiFullerDr. Shandi Fuller, a pediatrician, is the deputy health officer/maternal child adolescent health consultant for Solano County, California. She has worked for the Solano County Family Health Services since 2012, and oversaw the training and implementation of a pilot on ACEs screening among parents and adults without children in a safety net clinic in Vacaville. Fuller will talk about the in-depth equity training she and a colleague developed for medical providers.

Fuller is the co-facilitator for Solano HEALS, whose mission is to decrease black infant mortality rates by promoting equity in healthy births. She is also the medical director for California Children Services. She is an active member of Solano County’s Community Action for Race Equity (CARE) team and the CARE collaborative, as well as the African America/Black Caucus for Solano County. Fuller has developed training on historical trauma and implicit bias and works with medical centers to build equity into their health systems. Previously, she served as chief of pediatrics at the Cherokee Indian Hospital in Cherokee, North Carolina. She earned her master’s in public health from the University of California at Berkeley and her medical degree from Howard University.

CerellaCraigCerella Craig is a research assistant at the Health Justice Lab at the Yale School of Medicine and is currently pursuing a master's degree in public health at Southern Connecticut State University. She also serves on the Community Leadership Council for the JPB Research Network on Toxic Stress. She will be talking about what it takes to integrate the voices of the community into medical system practices and to ensure equity.

Craig is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and holds a bachelor of science degree in health and social inequalities, an individualized major that was crafted around her passion for health equity. Craig is dedicated to improving access to equitable and quality health care within marginalized communities. She has worked in community-based research for nine years, engaging families in research trials as a social justice advocate. Craig also supports families in challenging systems that threaten their health and wellness. 

Host:: Laurie Udesky is a staff reporter at ACEs Connection and the community manager of the ACEs in Pediatrics community. She has been a public-interest and investigative journalist for more than 25 years. Her work has earned a number of honors, including awards from Investigative Reporters & Editors, the Association of Health Care Journalists, and the Exceptional Merit Media Award from Radcliffe College.



Images (4)
  • IngridCockhren
  • DrShandiFuller
  • CerellaCraig
  • RJGillespie1

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