Mary Ann Hansen, director of First 5, a nonprofit that supports early childhood development, grew up in Humboldt County and has deep connections with helping families in her community overcome adversity – a daunting task as Humboldt’s rates of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are far higher than much of the state.
Once she was able to see how ACE studies quantify childhood trauma, Hansen could better understand what her community was dealing with and how having multiple ACEs led to greater negative outcomes for those impacted.
Humboldt’s social and medical community are leveraging this greater awareness of ACEs to implement more focused services, such as promoting healthy relationships for children to be seen and heard, whether it be by one primary positive role model or by mentoring groups that grew up with multiple ACEs themselves.
In many parts of the country, like Humboldt County in California, social services, schools and programs were making progress with increasing resilience in children. But then COVID-19 happened, setting them back. The pandemic has had an adverse impact on communities’ efforts to stem ACEs, of which there are 10 major ones that define a life, according to experts (including childhood domestic violence or CDV). Adding to existing stresses, many families now face unemployment, potential poverty, a sense of isolation, fear of the future and lack of motivation. For some of these families, the adversities already happening at home (such neglect, physical abuse, or childhood domestic violence), only intensify, with children having nowhere else to escape during a lock-down.
Fortunately, communities like the one in Humboldt County are learning to adapt, with telehealth and virtual technology. They continue to focus on personal relationship building, providing support services and keeping lines of communication open for those in need of help whenever possible.
The full article, “Reaching for Resilience-New programs were beginning to address the traumatic foundation of Humboldt’s health problems. Then came COVID” in North Coast Journal can be viewed here.