LESSON 1:II – What are key concepts and terms to explore?
INTRODUCTION TO THE PROGRAM
You are at the forefront of a new movement, focused on the data-driven, cross-sector and technology-empowered prevention of childhood trauma and maltreatment. Our work differs from what’s been done for two decades, since the publishing of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Survey by Doctors Felitti and Andor in 1998.
Our approach is systemic and comprehensive, guided by decades of research focused on the social determinants of health, health equity, health and education disparities and historical trauma and resilience. Rather than focusing on how an individual addresses his or her own trauma, we are focused on how an entire county, including all cities, towns and communities within its borders, prevents and treats trauma.
We are not using jargon to make the process of preventing childhood adversity more complicated, instead we are committing to a very specific type of process that is results-focused.
We have worked hard to avoid insider phrases throughout the course, but a few upfront definitions might be helpful to readers not familiar with some terms used within behavioral health care, child welfare and public health.
The 100% New Mexico initiative is at the forefront of the data-driven and cross-sector prevention of adverse childhood experiences, trauma and maltreatment.
For the past decades there have been trainings on trauma and the brain, design of delivery of health care, teaching and program activities that are sensitive to those who have been traumatized, sporadic in-services for health educators, workshops for parents, lessons for students and informational websites offering insights on emotional health and trauma. We applaud this work in generating awareness and offering sensitivity. These strategies, called being “trauma-informed,” is the first step in addressing ACEs. It is not, however, a comprehensive trauma prevention strategy.
While the 100% New Mexico initiative continues to build awareness, it is first and foremost about building the capacity of communities to ensure that ten vital family-focused services exist in order to prevent ACEs, trauma and adversity before they can occur. As stated in Anna, Age Eight, the data-driven work we are proposing is a social moonshot level community project. We are honored to have you along for the ride.
Instead of the method used in some organizations – decisions based on hunches, what’s been done before, or the whim of the director, we base all our work on data. We’re swimming in excellent data and research that provides all the information we need to start solving challenges today. And data are far from only quantitative (intimidating numbers). Data are also qualitative and come from the stories and inspiring life experiences of our friends and neighbors.
Instead of doing our work in isolation or a silo, we reach across the key sectors of the multi-disciplinary public sector to coordinate work. We’ve identified (described in our textbooks) ten vital services in ten distinct social sectors that make up a resilient family-friendly community. This means child welfare and public health work in synch with education, youth mentor programs, behavioral health care, and early childhood education programs. We communicate across our agencies to assess challenges, plan with research, implement action and measure progress.
Instead of looking at only one particular part of the challenge facing families, we approach our work by looking at the health of an entire community system. The magnitude of the problem requires that we take into thoughtful consideration all the interrelationships and interdependencies among the parts of the whole, whether it be our own organization or the communities we focus on. Technology makes systemic work, internally and externally, transparent. For meaningful change, systemic thinking is required.
Data Leaders programs
These are continuous quality improvement programs housed within government agencies like child welfare and non-governmental agencies to train the workforce in using data to identify and solve problems. These programs build collaboration between data specialists, upper management, training staff, and the field workers, in order to improve outcomes for the populations their agencies serve. The design of the 100% New Mexico initiative, in many ways, was informed by the design of the Data Leaders for Child Welfare program sponsored by Casey Family Programs and implemented in New Mexico, New York City and Connecticut.