Participants from around the Midwest and beyond gathered in Pewaukee March 24-26 for sessions focused on learning more about and spreading the word on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). The offerings were co-sponsored by SaintA and the Wisconsin Children’s Trust Fund.
On the first two days, called ACE Interface Master Trainers, about 30 participants — including Sara Daniel, SaintA’s director of Clinical Services and Staff Development; Chief Clinical Officer Tim Grove, and Vice President for Strategy and Operations Ann Leinfelder Grove — were trained by Dr. Robert Anda, co-principal investigator of the ACE study, Laura Porter of ACE Interface, and Jane Kretzmann of the University of Minnesota. The third day, the Regional Summit on Adverse Childhood Experiences, drew 76 participants from a variety of states to learn, through presentations and workshops, more about how to advance policy, practices and funding around ACES.
Dr. Anda stressed that collective wisdom is critical, saying: “Change will occur as information is taken into communities.” Breakout sessions looked at how ACEs are handled in various arenas, including corrections, the judicial system and through Medicaid. Peer discussions also focused on schools, the historical transmission of ACES, and data collection. Susan Dreyfus, president and CEO of the Alliance for Children and Families, delivered the closing address, which focused on the need for creativity, collaboration and an unwavering focus on and respect for those we serve.
A surprise guest showed up to briefly address participants Wednesday noon. Bryan Samuels, the executive director of Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and the former commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), talked about his collaboration with the secretary of HHS on addressing childhood trauma. He said ACES are now officially a high priority goal for HHS.
Summarizing the need for practitioners of all kinds to work together to advance ACE knowledge and effect change, Ann quoted an old Hopi tribal saying: “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”