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Using brain science research and evidence-based practices to transform lives and futures.

Helping children, youth, and families thrive to their full potential begins with understanding the brain science research of how trauma and adversity impact health, safety, and well-being; recognizing the prevalence and intergenerational transmission of trauma throughout our communities; and working together to build trauma-informed systems of care that prevent, intervene, and heal. 

Understanding ACEs

Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, are traumatic experiences that happen during an individual's childhood and teen years (0-17 years).


Research has proven, prolonged exposure to trauma and toxic stress negatively impact physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral development linking ACEs to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance use problems in adolescence and adulthood.


Furthermore, ACEs have significant potential for lasting effects on well-being, and prosperity well into adulthood - negatively impacting education, job opportunities, and earning potential. 


Their Prevalence In Our Communities

According to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control from more than 144,000 adults across 25 states between 2015 and 2017 the results are staggering:


Noting also that multiple studies show people who identified as members of these groups reported significantly more ACEs:

  • Black, Hispanic/Latino, or multiracial people

  • People with less than a high school education

  • People making less than $15,000/year

  • People who are unemployed or unable to work

  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people

And How They Echo Through Generations

Many children who experience ACEs have a parent or caregiver who has also experienced ACEs. Especially for families who have experienced historical and systemic racism, inequity, and/or poverty for generations. Limited parenting skills and toxic environments get passed down from one generation to the next if children don't have protective buffers like positive childhood experiences or caring adults in their lives.

We Can Create Positive Childhood Experiences

The very same research that helps us understand ACEs also provides the opportunity for positive change that will transform lives and futures - building strong, thriving communities for us all. At the cross section of trauma-informed care practices and equity, diversity, and inclusion, Children & Families First uses brain science research from the Harvard Center for the Developing Child, implementing evidence-based practices proven to prevent, intervene, and heal the immediate and lasting impacts of adverse childhood experiences.

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