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Helping Californians live healthier lives and reach their full potential

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The ACEs Aware initiative is a first-in-the nation effort to screen patients for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) to help improve and save lives.

Initially led by the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and the Office of the California Surgeon General (CA-OSG) as part of Governor Gavin Newsom’s California For All initiative, ACEs Aware strives to create a better world for children, families, and communities by working together across the health, human services, education, and non-profit sectors to prevent and address the impact of ACEs and toxic stress.

On October 1, 2021, the ACEs Aware initiative transitioned to a new organizational home within the University of California. The newly created University of California ACEs Aware Family Resilience Network (UCAAN) is a multi-campus initiative that leverages the substantial interdisciplinary resources of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) public health sciences campuses to develop, promote, and sustain evidence-based methods to screen patients for ACEs and create treatment plans to help patients heal from the impacts of trauma and toxic stress. UCAAN is led and administered through the Department of Pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the UCSF Center to Advance Trauma-Informed Health Care.

More than 60 percent of Californians have experienced at least one ACE, and 16.7 percent have experienced four or more. [ 1 ] The good news is toxic stress is treatable. A consensus of scientific data demonstrates that early detection and early intervention significantly improves health outcomes. 

ACEs Aware is bringing communities together in ways never before imagined to prevent, screen for, treat, and heal trauma-induced toxic stress. Together, we are getting to the root cause of some of the most harmful, persistent, and expensive health challenges facing our state and nation. 

“Decreasing the burden of ACEs is not only an ethical and moral imperative, but critical to our economic vitality. This work is a key preventive measure to improve health and societal outcomes for our state’s residents for generations to come.”

- California Governor Gavin Newsom

Initially funded through the 2021-22 budget under Proposition 56, ACEs Aware has become a vital part of the Medi-Cal program’s response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, helping providers identify, treat, and prevent the secondary health effects caused by the stress of the pandemic. The initiative is making great progress, but there is more work to be done.

“We have set a bold goal to cut ACEs and toxic stress in half in one generation. I believe that we can get there with shared vision, shared understanding, and cross-sector collaboration.”

- California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris

Get Involved

Every person and organization can play a vital role in transforming health outcomes and improving the lives of Californians. Here’s how to engage with the ACEs Aware initiative, whether you are new to ACEs and trauma-informed work or long-standing leaders in this area:

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New Guidance: California’s Mandated Reporting Requirements and ACE Screening

Joint letter from the California Department of Social Services, the California Department of Health Care Services, and the Office of the California Surgeon General providing clarifying guidance on the responsibilities of health care clinical teams who conduct screenings for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in the context of the state’s mandated reporting requirements.

References
1: California Department of Public Health, Injury and Violence Prevention Branch (CDPH/IVPB), University of California, Davis, Violence Prevention Research Program, California Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), 2011-2017.