Assembly Explores Adverse Childhood Experiences in Joint Informational Hearing

On Tuesday, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 1 on Health and Human Services and the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Education Finance convened a joint hearing exploring Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). The hearing, co-chaired by Assembly Members Arambula and McCarty, began with a panel of experts illustrating the impact of adverse childhood experiences and chronic stress on health, emotional well-being and development and sharing various approaches to addressing those impacts.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a San Francisco pediatrician, founder and CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness and author of ‘The Deepest Well’, shared her personal experiences as a provider and how she personally explored the ties amongst health conditions her patients were experiencing and the environment in which they were living. She noted that 17 percent of Californians were living with four or more ACEs, which places those individuals at a higher risk for heard disease and is associated with seven of the ten leading causes of death.

Some of the interventions discussed included updating Medi-Cal health forms to screen for violence, food insecurity, housing instability and violence, in addition to building protective factors, bringing mental health services into schools, improving data collection, expanding ACEs, training educators, revisiting the cycle of violence and providing opportunities for interventions, and greater utilization of the EPSDT benefit.

CHEAC provided remarks during public comment to noting our desire to be engaged in future discussion around ACEs and the need to apply a prevention lens to the issue as well. CHEAC highlighted interventions already employed by local health departments, such as home visiting programs and domestic violence initiatives, which help prevent new ACEs in a child’s life.

Before concluding, Assembly Member Arambula again referenced Oprah’s 60 Minutes Interview and noted that addressing ACEs seems to address population health. ACEs are likely to be a growing topic of interest amongst the Legislature. The joint committee hearing agenda can be viewed here.