Positive and Adverse Childhood Experiences

Kids running

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are common – and in the absence of support, they can cause long-lasting harm. ACEs include experiences such as witnessing violence or growing up in a household with a family member with a serious mental illness. When children experience multiple negative events like these, their bodies can be flooded with stress hormones, increasing their risk for later health problems like heart disease, diabetes, or depression.

In contrast, Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs) help children build resilience. Stable, responsive relationships with parents and other caring adults, feeling a sense of belonging at school, and participating in community traditions are examples of PCEs.

Clark County Public Health is collaborating with community partners to help ensure every child can live up to their fullest potential. We can all work together on this goal by increasing community supports for children and the adults in their lives. For too many families, stress impairs their ability to provide the supportive relationships their children need.  Financial burdens, racism and lack of access to healthcare are some of the issues overloading our families right now. We need to work together to channel these stressors away from families.

Our community has a shared responsibility to prevent childhood adversity and to buffer the impact of toxic stress.  We can turn the tide on ACEs by adopting policies and practices that reduce family stress and by building positive supports that protect children from the impact of adversity and trauma. Researchers estimate our nation can reduce depression by 44%, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by 27%, and unemployment by 15% if we take these steps now.

This is the time to build our future by creating safe, stable environments where every child and family in Clark County has an opportunity to reach their greatest potential.

For more information, contact the Chronic Disease Prevention team.

PACEs Action Alliance

The PACEs Action Alliance is a multi-sector collaborative of individuals and public and private organizations. The Alliance raises awareness about positive and adverse childhood experiences (PACEs) and their long-term impact. We promote trauma-informed approaches and policies to support resilience and healing for people of all ages. All are welcome at our meetings.

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Four key functions served by the PACEs Alliance:
  1. Support a healing community through policies, systems and environments that create and support safety, inclusion and positive childhood experiences; 
  2. Educate the community about the causes, lifelong impact, and ways of preventing and mitigating childhood trauma and toxic stress; 
  3. Facilitate opportunities for community mobilization; 
  4. Promote and facilitate cross-sector connection and collaboration; 
  5. Collect, evaluate and share data that helps our community to identify and address root causes of adversity and to measure our efforts to increase resilience.
  • The PACEs Action Alliance Learning Collaborative supports awareness about childhood trauma and resilience and to promote trauma-informed policy and systems change;

  • The Community Alliance Network connects community-serving agencies to share information and foster collaborative efforts;

  • The Trauma-Informed Schools Workgroup is open to people who work in or with schools in Clark County.

Meeting dates and related information are provided in the Healthy Communities newsletter, which is distributed the first of every month to subscribers. To subscribe, click on the link below. Past issues are available on this page.

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