Childhood Adversity and Community Resilience

The Issue:

A growing body of research, triggered by the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study, documents how childhood adversity leads to diseases, such as cancer and heart disease, and social problems, including homelessness and domestic violence, later in life. Research also confirms that the best antidote to trauma and adversity is to build resilience. Resilience is defined as achieving a successful outcome in the face of adversity. Those factors that build resilience include fostering healthy relationships and strong social connections, as well as developing individual coping strategies. These resiliency factors serve as buffers against adversity.

Despite the extensive research on the impact of childhood adversity and the power of building resilience at the individual, family and community level, there are major segments of Central Texas’ health and social services continuum where this research has not been translated into practice.

Our Plan:

Our goal is to help foster the development of community assets that prevent adversity and build resilience at the individual, family and community level.  We believe this is best done when we help create the conditions that foster mutual support and community connection.

Who We Serve:

Our primary target population for this work is low-income families with children aged 0-5. However, to make this work both sustainable and effective, some of our efforts will need to move beyond this primary focus to include work with primary care providers, schools, child-serving organizations, and community leaders.

How We Will Do It:

Our approach to preventing adversity and building resiliency is multi-pronged and includes:

  • Increase screening in the primary care/pediatric setting for childhood adversity and other related factors
  • Build a better therapeutic web that includes specialized treatments that incorporate research on the effects of trauma and adversity, as well as tools to build resiliency, such as parenting supports
  • Develop universal prevention strategies to both prevent adversity and build resiliency, such as universal home visiting for all newborns, or community wide education campaigns that have been effective in other communities
  • Promote the science of brain development to inform clinical practice, public policy and resource decisions

Read Sr. Program Officer Kim McPherson’s story on our website, “Preventing Childhood Adversity and Building Community Resilience: Investing in an Emerging Field”.

For More Information

Kim McPherson, Senior Program Officer

“If I were granted one wish to secure the future health of our community, it would be that anyone who makes decisions that touch the lives of our kids (parents, elected official, clinicians, etc.) understands the core story of brain development. Understanding the science naturally leads to smarter, sustainable solutions that stick.”

Senior Program Officer Kim McPherson on “Childhood Trauma’s Footprint on Health” Panel at SXSW

SXSW panelists Kim McPherson, James Redford and Dr. Pritesh Gandhi.

Read the Story