This past Sunday, the Groundwork staff, like many other child advocates across the state, was excited to watch as Oprah shined a light on the prevalence of childhood trauma in the United States. The 60-Minutes segment focused on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), which are traumatic events that have the potential to cause long-lasting negative effects. Much of Oprah's message reflected what many child advocates already know about the impact of childhood trauma, but this got us thinking--what is the impact of ACEs in Ohio? This week, Groundwork released an info sheet on ACEs in Ohio to help continue this conversation on the state level. We found that almost half of all children in Ohio have experienced at least one ACE, but black and Hispanic children are at much higher risk than their white peers. Nationally, 51% of Hispanic children and 61% of black children have had an adverse childhood experience, compared to 40% of their white peers. As the frequency and length of ACEs increase, so do the impacts on physical and mental health, academic achievement, and self-sufficiency. Ohio ranks 46th in the nation for kids with high levels of early childhood trauma-1 in 7 Ohio kids have experienced at least 3 ACEs, putting them at higher risk for long-lasting negative effects. The long-term physical health, mental health, and behavioral impacts of ACEs range from heart disease to depression to drug addiction. In light of Ohio's Opioid crisis, it wasn't surprising to see that experts have found a particularly meaningful link between ACEs and prescription drug abuse. Research shows that individuals who have experienced high levels of childhood trauma (five or more ACEs) are three times more likely to abuse prescription painkillers and 5 times more likely to inject drugs. Furthermore, the vast majority (80%) of opioid users seeking treatment had at least one adverse childhood experience. As we consider ways to reduce the long-term individual and societal impacts ACEs can have, we must focus on addressing the effects of ACEs, as well as preventing them from occurring in the first place. Because ACEs often have a multigenerational impact, the most effective solutions are those that engage families, like quality child care and voluntary, evidence-based home visiting. These programs promote healthy physical, emotional, and cognitive development of kids; effectiveness and self-sufficiency of parents; and safe, consistent family environments. Ohio has created a framework for a system of early childhood programs that have the potential to transform our state, but we still have a long way to go if we want to ensure that every child has the potential for life-long success. By making strategic investments to improve the accessibility and quality of programs like quality child care and evidence-based home visiting, we can reduce ACEs, while simultaneously offering a long-term solution for statewide issues like the opioid crisis.
Ohio Commission on Infant Mortality Update
Ohio's rates of infant mortality are significantly higher than the national average, despite increased awareness surrounding the issue over the past several years. The Ohio Commission on Infant Mortality, chaired by Senator Stephanie Kunze (SD-16) and Representative Sarah LaTourette (HD-76), met last week to discuss new research and programs to help us gain a clearer understanding of the causes of infant mortality, as well as the ways we can effectively intervene. Check out some of the resources shared at the meeting:
The Ohio Department of Education has released a working draft of the state’s five-year strategic plan for education: EachChild=OurFuture. Interested in giving feedback on the Department's plan? Click here to engage in one of 11 community conversations Philanthropy Ohio is hosting to provide input on Ohio’s Draft Strategic Education Plan.
Children's Defense Fund Hires Executive Director
Children's Defense Fund Ohio was excited to welcome its new Executive Director Tracy Nájera last week. We look forward to working with Tracy and continuing our relationship with Children's Defense Fund Ohio!