New Jersey’s Pioneering Efforts

New Jersey, under the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF), is the first state in the nation to launch an Office of Resiliency. Its goal is to create a community-driven statewide plan to combat major adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)and their traumatic impact.

The Office falls under the banner of the NJ ACES Statewide Action Plan, which provides a model to help agencies, educational and social service members as well as the public better understand and ACEs.

More than 40% of the children in New Jersey have experienced at least one of the 10 ACEs – major adversities faced in childhood that have a profound impact on a life – and government officials are concerned that COVID-19 has only exacerbated the issue, particularly among children in communities of color, who face greater issues of racial injustice and economic hardships.  

The Office of Resiliency is the culmination of years of work by the DCF and three nonprofit organizations and draws from successful programs implemented in other parts of the country. It will oversee an inter-agency task force that works collaboratively across social services and education lines. It will also facilitate innovative ways to teach and implement trauma policy by tapping into members of the task force that have themselves experienced multiple ACEs.  

To read the full article, “Childhood traumas: NJ release first-in-nation plan to fight them”, please visit NJ Spotlight News at the following link:

What Are ACEs and How Do They Impact a Life?

ACEs are a specific brand of childhood experiences that do not result in passing or fleeting effects but rather have a profound and lasting impact on a young person that can completely alter who they grow up to become and shift the course of their life. They were most comprehensively examined and tracked in the famous CDC-Kaiser ACE Study, from 1995-97, which became the gold standard in the industry. The study identified 10 major childhood adversities significant enough to alter the course of a child’s life – among them Childhood Domestic Violence (CDV). 

The study discovered that children who experienced an ACE were likely to fair more poorly later in life than children who didn’t and that the more ACEs a child faced – the higher their ACE score – the poorer the predictions. Findings also showed that ACEs rarely happen in isolation and very often tend to co-occur. 

What’s more, CDV seems to be a lightning rod for other ACEs. According to leading expert, Dr. Jeffrey Edleson, more than 50% of those who experience CDV experience 5 or more other adversities.