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State PACEs Action

A Snapshot of Statutes related to ACEs and Trauma-Informed Policy


A legislative scan in March by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) of bills that specifically include references to ACEs (nearly 40 bills in 18 states) also found seven statutes enacted in six different states. That number increases significantly when laws that reference “trauma-informed” policies are included—the number of statutes totals 20, enacted in 15 different states. These numbers are based on information from various sources (including the NCSL, our own reporting, and tips from ACEs Connection members) and should not be considered exhaustive.

An overview of the laws now on the books is provided in two documents attached for your review and your comment: an At A Glance Statutes and Resolutions table and state-by-state narrative that provides brief descriptions of what laws have passed. Similar documents related just to bills that were introduced in 2017 are being prepared. The final outcome of some of these bills will be known soon since many of the state legislative sessions will adjourn in the coming weeks.

Four of the 20 statutes address trauma-informed practices in education. Massachusetts codified in 2014 a “safe and supportive schools framework” that had been used in school districts around the state for years. More recently, several states have taken different approaches that included requiring social and emotional screening for children as part of their school entry exams (Illinois); established a pilot program for schools to receive training in trauma-informed approaches (Missouri); and addressed chronic absenteeism through training on trauma-informed approaches (Oregon).

Several state statutes require trauma-informed training in various sectors. Arizona requires trauma-informed training for child welfare investigators and child safety workers; Texas requires it for employees in the juvenile justice department and employees in living centers and intermediate care facilities; and Minnesota provides children’s mental health grants for training parents, partners, and providers.

Two states—Vermont and Oregon—have addressed ACEs science in the health care sector. A law, passed in Vermont in 2014, called for a study on implementing ACE-informed medical practice, followed in 2015 with a law to require the Blueprint for Health to “work collaboratively to begin including family-centered approaches and adverse childhood experience screenings consistent with the report entitled “Integrating ACE-Informed Practice into the Blueprint for Health.”(The report was written in response to the 2014 law). The Oregon law requires a community health improvement plan to be based on research, including ACEs research, and to identify funding sources to address the health needs of children and adolescents.

New Mexico requires the home visiting program to include support services that prevent adverse childhood experiences and Florida gives priority to the use of services for child protective services that are trauma-informed. The Brighter Futures program in Wisconsin funds programs that prevent and reduce the incidence of adverse early childhood experience in young children. Washington State passed a law in 2011 that provided a framework for a private-public initiative to address ACEs.

Finally, several states followed the lead of Wisconsin in passing resolutions calling for the state’s policy decisions to consider the principles of early childhood brain development and the concepts of toxic stress, early adversity, and resilience factors. Both the Wisconsin and California resolutions were passed in 2014 and in 2017, Utah passed a similar resolution. Also, this year, Virginia passed a resolution commending the work of the Trauma-Informed Community Networks. Other states, including most recently, Oregon, are considering resolutions modeled on Wisconsin and California.

A wrap-up of bills under consideration in 2017 alone—35 different bills in 16 states—is being compiled. Stay tuned and let us know if we missed any existing statutes and if you have information on how these laws are being implemented.


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