Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

   The Power of Relationships in Mitigating Adverse Childhood Experiences:  Why CASAs are Essential        

          In 1998, not long after Yolo County CASA was formed, the ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) study was published from research based in San Diego. It highlighted the strong dose-response relationship between childhood adversity (trauma) and poor health outcomes throughout the life span of the trauma affected individual.  A great introduction to this topic is Nadine Burke-Harris' TEDTalk.

          Further research on this topic has expanded on the mechanisms at work that negatively impact development in children. The work also highlighted protective buffers, or mechanisms that can actually reverse these negative impacts. RELATIONSHIP is the single buffer that all of the experts agree drastically reverses negative outcomes like depression, anxiety, delinquent behavior, and even physical responses like heart disease and diabetes later in life. In short, nurturing relationships between a child who has been traumatized and a supporting adult are the key to recovery and healthy development.

          We already know that a child in the foster care system has been traumatized in some way, and the beautiful thing about this research is that CASA was providing the all-important relationship buffer before it was even studied to be so crucial. The VERY thing that CASA provides, a caring committed adult who will get to know the foster child and advocate for their best interests, is the component that will most likely buffer and mitigate the harmful effects of trauma and allow foster children to reach their potential and achieve resilience...the ability to actually recover from adverse experiences and thrive.

          The ACEs research is so important and related to our mission that it is an integral part of all of our CASA volunteer trainings. We just highlighted how CASA started and what we've achieved since. In the future, we hope to provide every foster child with the relationship buffer to trauma that they need to recover and thrive. By 2020, we hope to leave no foster child in Yolo County without the beautiful relationship that a CASA provides.

         "Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings." -Elie Wiesel


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