Grantee Highlights

ACEs Aware May Grantee Highlights

Grantee Highlights: Western Youth Services and California Black Health Network

ACEs Aware grantees are hard at work advancing trauma-informed care and mitigating toxic stress across California. This month, we asked grantees Western Youth Services and California Black Health Network to share their experiences engaging with local communities, overcoming challenges, and advancing the mission of ACEs Aware across the state.

“Resilience is the antidote to trauma and adversity; everything we do is focused on building resilience”

- Dr. Lorry Leigh Belhumeur, Western Youth Services

3 Questions with Western Youth Services

Grant Type: Provider Engagement and Communications

How have local providers and your community responded to your ACEs Aware grant activities?

Western Youth Services (WYS) is playing a pivotal role in ACEs education and prevention, screening and treatment, and measurement of outcomes in Orange County. Through our provider engagement activities, we have connected with hundreds of providers in the community, sharing and learning best practices in trauma-informed care, guiding individuals and organizations toward ACE-informed change, and offering pathways to care for those at-risk for toxic stress. The response to our activities has been positive, with many attendees returning to our sessions to learn, grow, and stay connected to this important work as it takes shape within the community. Many providers have shared that our activities have allowed them to feel supported and “not so alone” in their roles as they work to prevent ACEs and support those most vulnerable to the impact of toxic stress.

How have you been able to overcome challenges in your ACEs Aware work?

Our greatest challenge is the need for additional supportive services, which has become even more apparent during the pandemic. Many providers shared that they feel overwhelmed—personally and professionally—by the complex needs of their clients, and reported they do not know where to start or who to refer to when the client need goes beyond one’s field of study or scope of competence. To address this challenge, we integrate a framework for identifying complex needs, provide specific guidance on how to refer and link within the trauma-informed network of care, and share active community resources that help mitigate toxic stress. We regularly invite attendees to be part of the discussion to share information, strategies, and new resources, so everyone can walk away from each session with a sense of relief and an understanding of where to turn for additional support.

How does your work to advance trauma-informed care and mitigate toxic stress align with your organization’s mission?

Our ACEs Aware work closely aligns with our mission of advancing awareness, cultivating success, and strengthening communities through integrated mental health services for children, youth, and families. We have pioneered much of the ACEs work within Orange County, and have fully embraced the ACEs Aware mission into every aspect of our organization—from education and outreach to screening and treatment. In our commitment to continually improve treatment and advance the larger body of ACEs research, we evaluate our outcomes and are eager to share the results of our Practice Paper. As a partner in Orange County’s Trauma-Informed Network of Care Implementation project, we also look forward to sharing best practices, enhancing collaboration, and developing new ways to come together to prevent adversity and buffer toxic stress in all communities.

“Our activities have allowed providers to feel supported and ‘not so alone’ in their roles as they work to prevent ACEs and support those most vulnerable to the impact of toxic stress.”

- Western Youth Services

3 Questions with California Black Health Network

Grant Type: Provider Engagement

How have local providers and your community responded to your ACEs Aware grant activities?

We hosted a webinar on the “Impact of ACES on Black Maternal Health” on March 20 and received an overwhelmingly positive response, including multiple emails from attendees after the event expressing their overall satisfaction and appreciation of the webinar topic and discussion. In addition to providers, we had great representation in the audience from the community and others who work in perinatal care. Participants were highly engaged in the breakout sessions, which led to conversations that were very revealing of the community’s needs.

How have you been able to overcome challenges in your ACEs Aware work?

We had breakout sessions during our webinar, and they sparked many ideas for potential policy initiatives for the California Black Health Network to focus on that could address some of the gaps in perinatal care for Medi-Cal beneficiaries. We plan to advance our work by building on many of the ideas identified in the breakout sessions.

How does your work to advance trauma-informed care and mitigate toxic stress align with your organization’s mission?

Our mission is to ensure that all Black Californians, regardless of education, socioeconomic class, zip code, sexual orientation, gender identity, homelessness, or immigration status, have access to high quality and equitable primary and behavioral health care and avoid unnecessarily succumbing to disease. The webinar we hosted really helped to provide a unique educational opportunity for the community. It provided greater insight into how ACES and toxic stress contribute to maternal health disparities, the importance of ACES screening in perinatal care, and tools to both screen for ACEs and build resiliency for more vulnerable populations. We hope that these learnings are translated into improvements in the quality of care received by Black pregnant women, regardless of their income, education, or where they live.

“Participants were highly engaged in the breakout sessions, which led to conversations that were very revealing of the community’s needs.”

- California Black Health Network

Read previous Grantee Highlights here.

Visit our Grants Program Information page for more on ACEs Aware community grants.