Childhood trauma is the root cause of almost every major challenge New Mexico faces: from the opioid crisis and violence, to low school achievement and underemployment.
Trauma is the result of adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, encompassing: physical and emotional neglect; physical, emotional and sexual abuse; and living in households where adults misuse substances, have mental health challenges, are violent to partners, parents are separated, or a family member is incarcerated. For both child and parent, this can mean hunger, homelessness and living in constant fear.
The more ACEs are endured, the more likely a child is to have emotional, educational and physical challenges. And every one of these challenges have negative financial implications for taxpayers.
The lifelong costs of childhood toxic stress are enormous, as manifested in adverse impacts on learning, behavior, and health.
ACEs occur in all types of families, regardless of income level with most cases of ACEs never reaching the attention of child protective services. Instead, trauma quietly ruins lives and impacts every community.
Employing interrelated strategies, supported by data, technology and cross-sector collaboration, is the key to preventing ACEs and trauma.
Strategy 1: We assess the root causes and magnitude of the challenges.
We assess the magnitude of ACEs and their consequences in children and adults (including trauma, mental health challenges, and substance misuse). We also measure to what degree youth and adults have access to vital services shown to improve outcomes for children, students and families and reduce ACEs.
Strategy 2: We plan innovative solutions with a cross-sector approach.
We promote public and private partnerships, creating incubators that use "entrepreneurial thinking" to strengthen local systems of trauma-informed care and ten key services families need to thrive. We identify new ways to solve historic challenges.
Strategy 3: We implement new programs, services and products.
We provide local government, non-profit agencies, and the business community with technical assistance, ensuring that new projects are implemented successfully. We also support the effective use of data, technology and software to improve services.
Strategy 4: We evaluate progress in every county–every day.
Our work is transparent. We provide technical assistance in the four-step framework of continuous quality improvement—assessment, planning, action and evaluation—to help organizations achieve measurable and meaningful results for children, youth and adults. We track the impact of all work, including the decrease of ACEs, increase in services, and success with school, work and family life.
To accomplish this, we propose establishing the Anna, Age Eight Institute for the Data-Driven Prevention of Childhood Trauma and Maltreatment.
The Institute will focus on strengthening community systems and lifelong learning to create:
The Anna, Age Eight Institute will have the capacity to support every city, town and community in strengthening their local system of safety, health and education to empower every child, student and family. Institute staff will work in alignment with local efforts and offer technical assistance in facilitating community conversations, assessment, planning, action, evaluation and effective use of technology.
“The Anna, Age Eight Institute will provide New Mexico with its first agency devoted exclusively to the data-driven, cross-sector and collaborative prevention of childhood trauma and promotion of thriving families and communities.”
“The Anna, Age Eight institute has the potential to connect New Mexicans to gain meaningful results for families in urban and rural centers. Working in partnership with the Institute, New Mexico’s system of higher education can be the foundation for local efforts and a greater contribution for positive change.”
“New Mexico is often ranked as one of the most challenged states for substance abuse, high school drop-out, teen pregnancy, suicide, and child maltreatment. These problems are often linked to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) that have not been addressed. It’s time to bring our colleges and universities together to provide data-driven solutions and focus on prevention. The Anna, Age Eight Institute will have the capacity to provide a comprehensive process that engages local communities, empowering them to address their unique challenges. Together, we can stop the trauma that is passed from generation to generation and create a state where all children and families thrive.”
“The Anna, Age Eight Institute will support local communities in ensuring access and connection to thoughtful, strategic and cost-effective support networks that will not only address trauma and its unintended consequences, but will help us, as a state, to heal.”
“We connect the dots between safe childhoods, student achievement and finding success with work and family life. Addressing childhood trauma is far more than a health challenge, it’s an economic development issue for every region.”
“Northern New Mexico College is truly inspired to be a partner in this transformational endeavor. Childhood trauma is a root cause of almost every social and economic challenge we face in New Mexico. The work that Dr. Courtney and Mr. Cappello have done is a beacon call for action. We look forward to coming together as a community to fight for the most vulnerable members in our society, and ultimately to guarantee a better future for us all.”
Join us in this groundbreaking work developing a first-of-its kind center devoted exclusively to family safety and success.
For questions or to help establish the Anna, Age Eight Institute, please email Dominic Cappello at email@example.com.
The Anna, Age Eight Institute is guided by the strategies presented in the book Anna, Age Eight: The data-driven prevention of childhood trauma and maltreatment by Katherine Ortega Courtney, PhD and Dominic Cappello. You can download the book free-of-charge here: www.AnnaAgeEight.org.