Q&A Session following webinar: Toxic! Stress, Health and ACEs

March 6, 2015 |

Throughout 2015, Ascend is hosting a series of webinars in which we go in-depth with Network Partners working in specific content areas to build evidence for two-generation solutions.

The February 26 webinar Toxic! Stress, Health and ACEs kicked-off the series and explored the implications from the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study, a nation-wide survey that assesses associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being, for addressing toxic stress in two-generation solutions. Presenters Katie Albright of the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center; Jeannette Pai-Espinosa of The National Crittenton Foundation; and Jason Gortney of The Children's Home Society of Washington State presented on their organizations’ new interventions and insights throughout the webinar.

The webinar’s participants posed many questions for the presenters, which are addressed below. For the webinar slides and the video recording click here.

Jeannette Pai-Espinosa, President of The National Crittenton Foundation, brings to this 124-year-old institution more than 30 years of experience in advocacy, education, intercultural communication, public policy, strategic communication, program development, and direct service delivery

Katie Albright, Ascend Fellow, attorney, is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center, a community-based non-profit dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect, promoting healthy families and the mental health of children. Ms. Albright has 20 years of experience advocating for children throughout her career working in the public, private and non-profit sectors in California and Washington, D.C

Jason Gortney Jason Gortney serves as Director of Catalyst for Kids, Office of Policy and Research, at Children's Home Society of Washington, the state's oldest and largest nonprofit organization for children and families. In this role, he leads CHSW's innovation, systems change and policy work to address the needs of children and families adversely impacted by poverty and toxic stress. He also currently serves as the Washington state lead for the Frontiers of Innovation site work in partnership with Harvard University's Center on the Developing Child with the goal of driving science-based innovation to seek breakthrough outcomes for young children facing adversity. Gortney earned a master's degree from the University of Arkansas and joined CHSW in 2001.


What is different about implementing the ACEs survey for a second time, and are there differences in findings by geography for the affiliates?

Pai-Espinosa: The second time around we developed protocols for the administration of the ACE across our agencies, increased the complexity of the demographic section, added well being questions and are using a more complex data system. We are still administering the ACE so we don’t have any result to share as of yet.

What will you recommend to the affiliate agencies based on the findings, broadly?

Pai-Espinosa: We see the findings as informing policy and practice on the local and national efforts and we support the agencies in using the ACE results as best fits their specific needs. We look forward to creating a survey based on ACE but that more comprehensively reflects the lives of the girls and young women we support.

How do you envision sustaining the Strengthening Families Framework at SFCAPC from a programmatic standpoint?

Albright: Our Integrated Family Services model is funded through blended public and private revenue.

Will you adapt the model to serve more families, and will you be training staff on how you developed this approach?

Albright: We are currently considering developing a training module to allow for expansion of services. We look forward to working with partners to create innovative methods to increase access to this promising intervention model.

How is home visiting becoming more two-generational in Washington State?

Gortney: We’re currently working with Crittenton Women’s Union to adapt their Mobility Mentoring model for use in home visiting programs. This model helps families identify pathways out of poverty, and through mentoring and the scaffolding of new skills, supports them in setting and working toward long-term goals aimed at economic mobility. Editor’s Note: Crittenton Women’s Union is an Ascend Network Partner.

How is CHS’ work encouraging or supporting parents to improve executive function and even enter the workforce through home visiting?

Gortney: We’re gearing up for a small pilot later this spring in our home visiting programs, where home visitors who have been trained in the principles of Mobility Mentoring will work with families on setting and working toward long-term goals. We think home visiting is an excellent platform for two-generation work.

https://email.aspeninst.org/owa/ tools have you used to help inform how brain science connects to your work?

Katie Albright: Our work is informed, in part, by research in neurobiology of trauma and trauma treatment methods to support parental resilience. Useful resources includes: 

·         The Trauma Center, a program of Justice Resource Institute

·         Center for the Study of Social Policy, Protective Factors Literature Review: Early Care & Education Programs and the Prevention of Child Abuse

·         Parenting & Family Support Centre, Positive Parenting Program

Gortney: We’ve adopted a practice of rapid-cycle innovation, employing small pilots to test and refine new practices for building caregiver capacities. We’re partnering with a variety of researchers to co-create new science-based strategies that we then test out in real world settings through our existing service delivery models (home visiting, e.g.). The Center on the Developing Child is a great resource for the brain science and examples of how practitioners and policy makers are translating the science into action.

What do you wish you knew more about to support your two-generation work?

Albright: Potential for future research includes:

·         Measurement and long-term outcomes tracking of protective factors, and;

·         Brain research on the two-generation interconnection between parent resiliency and social emotional competency of the child.

For additional information, please contact Katie Albright, Executive Director, katie.albright@sfcapc.org.

Gortney: We’re currently very interested in learning all we can about strategies for building the executive functioning of adult caregivers. We’re also interested in learning what the field of behavioral economics has to teach us about how and why people make economic decisions. Another area of interest is in engagement and retention in services of those families with young children at the highest risk of experiencing toxic stress.

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