Children Can Thrive: A New Vision for California
Last year, the Center for Youth Wellness hosted “Children Can Thrive,” the first statewide summit on childhood adversity in California. We know that unaddressed exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is a public health crisis with serious consequences. The good news is that in California, the fight against childhood adversity has become a movement—one that engages stakeholders and partners from an array of sectors in finding solutions to this issue.
That’s why we are very pleased to announce the release of “Children Can Thrive: A Vision for California’s Response to Adverse Childhood Experiences,” a policy report by the Center for Youth Wellness that includes the recommendations and perspectives of hundreds of experts.
This report lays out a concrete vision for a statewide response to childhood adversity in California. With this vision articulated, we can clearly see what California would be like without this deeply troubling public health crisis.
In recognizing and responding to ACEs as a public health crisis, California can lay the foundation to support the health and well-being of millions of children and families across the state. From health to early childhood development to education to juvenile justice to child welfare, a statewide response to ACEs has the potential to radically improve the futures of generations to come.
A California without millions affected by childhood adversity could mean a dramatically healthier population: babies that thrive, children with lower levels of childhood obesity and asthma, and adults with lower rates of chronic disease. We could see decreased rates of mental illness and substance abuse. These broad-strokes outcomes could mean that Californians would live longer, healthier lives, and that health care costs could be dramatically reduced.
Addressing the issue of childhood adversity head-on could also have significant, long-term effects on our education system. Children would be neuro-developmentally and emotionally ready to learn and better prepared to succeed in school. School readiness, attendance, and graduation rates would all improve, and there would be a decrease in referrals to special education and in school suspension rates.
Without the negative health outcomes created by toxic stress and caused by ACEs, imagine what millions more of California’s children will be able to do—learn, engage, and succeed.
Our vision doesn’t just feature clarity regarding what’s possible. It also outlines strategies for making that vision a reality. In my next blog post, I will talk about what steps our state needs to take to address this critical issue.
You can download and read the roadmap to addressing childhood adversity in California here: “Children Can Thrive: A Vision for California’s Response to Adverse Childhood Experiences.”