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Foundations to Thrive

Examining local assets to build a more resilient community and reduce childhood adversity


The Foundations to Thrive framework expanded upon the traditional adversity models, which tend to solely focus on the individual children and family member’s experience of ACEs, to also include elements that build community resilience, fostering the conditions that enable all community members to thrive.

The Issue:

Our commitment to reduce childhood adversity and build community resilience is in response to the growing body of research showing how early brain development and experiences are at the root of most major diseases and societal problems. While we are eager to begin this work, we believe that before we start investing for tomorrow, we need to take stock of where we are today.

To inform our work, the Foundation engaged the Texas Institute for Child and Family Wellbeing at the University of Texas School of Social Work to identify the local assets within various sectors that support families and communities. Our goals were to better understand what assets already exist that we can learn from, build on, connect with, and scale up to help create a more resilient community.

Further, the intention of this asset map project was to serve as a springboard to foster discussion around available supports available in Travis County to build resilient children and families and explore areas that could be further developed through innovative and cross-sector approaches.

Foundations to Thrive: A framework of access points to promote thriving children, supported caregivers and healthy, equitable, & resilient communities. The framework categories are neighborhood climate & community norms; prenatal & birth; parenting programs & wellness; pediatric well-checks; quality child care & school readiness; and basic needs.

The Findings:

This asset mapping project focused specifically on Travis County with a longer-term vision to replicate in other counties if it proved to be a community benefit.

Key Findings for Travis County Resilience Assets:

  • Travis County has a wealth of innovative community members dedicated to promoting optimal health, development, and support for children and families.
  • The highlight of this research was hearing about the strong commitment from many community providers, advocates, and planners to develop trauma-informed approaches and building individual, family, and community resilience.
  • A significant part of the community has a very high level of knowledge in the prevention, screening, and treatment of trauma, and a willingness to think critically and “out of the box” for solutions.
  • Many stakeholders described feelings of community responsibility and an increased momentum over the last few years to address the needs of all children to prevent exposure to adversity and build resilience

The University of Texas at Austin Steve Hicks School of Social Work
The University of Texas at Austin UT Health Austin

We hope providing this information and framework will help those hesitant to enter the field to know that there are resources and thought partners they can lean on. And, for those already working in this area, we hope this work demonstrates that there are colleagues across multiple sectors that they can reach out to for collaborative work.

Meet our Contributors


Kim McPherson, MPAff

Senior Program Officer


Beth Gerlach, PhD, LCSW

Adjunct Assistant Professor and Research Associate, Steve Hicks School of Social Work


Marian Morris, PhD, MPH, RN

Clinical Outcomes and Quality Data Specialist, Texas Center for Pediatric & Congenital Heart Disease


Amanda N. Barczyk, PhD, MSW

Affiliate Faculty, Department of Population Health


Heather Van Diest, LCSW

Senior Social Worker, UT Health Austin


Monica Faulkner, PhD, LMSW

Research Associate Professor, Steve Hicks School of Social Work


Heather Larkin Holloway, PhD

Associate Professor, SUNY