U.S. Midwest trauma leaders share successes in making big changes, by Ingrid Cockhren

According to: Ingrid Cockhren (Aces Connection Staff)

U.S. Midwest trauma leaders share successes in making big changes, by Ingrid Cockhren (Aces Connection Staff)\

Leaders in the ACEs/trauma/resilience movement from 10 states across the U.S. Midwest gathered for a networking call on May 11 to learn about flexible funding opportunities for states under the CARES Act, ways to get involved in advocacy, and to share their successes and challenges in building statewide coalitions.

The meeting was organized by ACEs Connection and the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP) in response to COVID-19 and the growing interest in organizing statewide coalitions. Taking a page from the governors in various regions around the country who are meeting to coordinate efforts around COVID-19, state coalitions jumped at the opportunity to share and learn from neighboring states.

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Members of the CTIPP National Trauma Campaign Core Team — Marlo Nash, Dan Press, and Jesse Kohler — focused on federal legislation that affects the states and described ways for advocates to get involved. Marlo Nash, national director of partnership and policy at Saint Francis Ministries, presented on the flexible funding opportunities in CARES ACT and future legislation to support trauma-informed programs and policies. This presentation is summarized in a recent post on ACEs Connection. Dan Press, legal advisor to CTIPP and attorney with the firm Van Ness Feldman, and Jesse Kohler provided tips on how individuals and organizations can have an impact on national policy. Kohler serves on the CTIPP board and is involved in launching the Pennsylvania Trauma-Informed Care Network. CTIPP was recently featured in a "Better Normal" conversation on this topic on May 15th.

During the second half of the call, participants were encouraged to report about their state’s initiatives. Participants were asked about specific challenges they had encountered while trying to form effective relationships with state and local policy makers. Here are some quick summaries of what some of the states reported :

Michigan Alison Arnold of Central Michigan University said that the focus of the Interdisciplinary Center for Community Health & Wellness statewide initiative is to raise awareness that trauma-informed practices improve population health. She also stressed that the state of Michigan needed continued support, resources and funding to develop a strong advocacy presence in the state. CMU’s Interdisciplinary Center for Community Health & Wellness is in partnership with the Michigan ACEs Initiative.

Indiana Katie Schmitz of Franciscan Health said that their ACEs initiative covered the state of Indiana and Cook County, IL. Schmitz expressed that their needs centered around funding and support to address and prevent ACEs in the communities where they operate as health care providers. Franciscan Health is currently focused on training all Franciscan Health providers and creating health care networks with other health care providers serving Indiana and Illinois. Franciscan Health is in partnership with the ACEs Indiana Coalition.

Illinois Lara Altman with the Illinois ACEs Response Collaborative said that their statewide efforts were also focused on ensuring that trauma-informed practices and ACEs science shaped policy in the state of Illinois. One area that Altman believed needed specific focus was the burnout and trauma experienced by practitioners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oklahoma Linda Manaugh of the Potts Family Foundation said that their ACEs initiative, Raising Resilient Oklahomans, had a strong relationship with their state-level decision makers. She highlighted their trauma-informed task force, which consists of the heads of several state agencies, and their early childhood legislative caucus. Manaugh stated that support was needed to ensure that these relationships continued and were strengthened.

Iowa Lisa Cushatt of Iowa ACEs 360 said that their statewide efforts were already deeply rooted in advocacy and focused on state level policy. Cushatt expressed that, in these times, state level efforts should shift to address secondary traumatic stress and compassion fatigue in practitioners working within the mental health, child welfare and health care sectors. In addition, Cushatt believed special attention should be paid to the racial health disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minnesota Becky Dale of Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota said that the statewide ACEs initiative in Minnesota was expansive and inclusive. She highlighted the 50 local initiatives present across the state that intentionally included the voices of parent leaders and tribal, immigrant and African American communities. Dale stated that their state-wide initiative needs more support and funding to move from awareness to advocacy.

Missouri Jennifer Brinkmann of Alive & Well Communities, a non-profit dedicated to addressing toxic stress and trauma in Missouri, Kansas and Illinois, expressed that Alive & Well Communities would like to ensure that state-level funds and support are based in equity. Brinkmann expressed that state funds and resources to address the COVID-19 pandemic must be allocated to communities with the most needs. Brinkmann also highlighted the unique needs of rural communities in Missouri.

South Dakota Tifanie Petro with Children’s Home Child Advocacy Center said that their state ACEs initiative, South Dakota ACEs & Resiliency Connection, partners with the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment to handle their state-level advocacy. Petro, however, did express enthusiasm at the prospect of partnering with CTIPP to gain even more support of their grassroots initiative from state decision makers.

These are just highlights from the call. There were many other Midwest ACEs & resilience champions present. ACEs Connection and CTIPP greatly appreciate everyone's attendance!

What's Next for the Midwest? As the Midwest ACEs Connection & CTIPP network continues to grow and strengthen, we will provide updates on the State ACEs Action site on ACEs Connection. The participants are encouraged to communicate with state policymakers about the need to address ACEs and trauma now and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis to mitigate its traumatic impact. State coalitions are also encouraged to share successful programs with their governors and other high-ranking state officials and urge that they be taken to scale.

ACEs Connection and CTIPP have scheduled a similar meeting with the Southeast region on May 21st at 10:00 am Central Time/11:00 am Eastern Time. Additional networking meetings will be scheduled for other regions. Please respond in the comment section below if you have questions or comments.

Also, if you would like to keep up with the Midwest on ACEs Connection, join our Midwest ACEs Connection community here.

Ingrid L. Cockhren, M.Ed

ACEs Connection TN & Midwest Community Facilitator


Mobile: (615) 484-1642

ACE Nashville-Parent & Community Education, Chair

LeMai Daisy, LLC., Owner

Tennessee State University, Professor of Psychology

Strategic. Connectedness. Relator. Ideation. Individualization.