Invest in upstream prevention to reduce early adversity, identify problems sooner, and connect at-risk infants, young children, and families with needed services.
Early childhood (ages 0-3) is a critical time for brain development, when experiences shape lifelong health and how a person learns and behaves. However, in the absence of protective factors (e.g., a supportive relationship), prolonged or frequent exposure to trauma can cause a toxic stress response that negatively impacts a child’s developing brain and body. Policymakers across the country are examining how various policy levers (including Medicaid) can be used to reduce children’s exposure to ACEs, foster resilience, and increase the odds that children get a good start in life. One example is New York’s First 1,000 Days on Medicaid initiative, which aims to improve access to services and health outcomes for children served by Medicaid. The statewide initiative is supporting development of a preventive pediatric clinical advisory group that, among many other objectives, will identify ways to incorporate trauma-informed care into practice, including how to identify and address ACEs.
Future Without Violence’s Changing Minds: Preventing and Healing Childhood Trauma State Policy Guide outlines approaches that health, education, child welfare, justice, and child development organizations can use to further the prevention and healing of childhood trauma at the state level.