Preventing Early Childhood Adversity Before It Starts: Maximizing Medicaid Opportunities

In Humboldt County, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) are of special concern. There are many thoughts in the community about how this should best be addressed. Some advocate for resilience promotion, some for reducing parental and prenatal substance use, others for housing families. All of these goals are important. For years, First 5 Humboldt’s approach has been through family strengthening and promotion of the 5 Protective Factors, which are associated with reductions in child abuse and neglect. This resilience promotion approach is something that can co-exist with specific public health and social service approaches and is something that can benefit all families that participate in our programs.

This article¬†from the Center for Health Care Strategies offers a good discussion on how existing Medicaid provides opportunities to address ACES. All of the key strategies identified in the article have already been spearheaded by our own 0 to 8 Mental Health Collaborative and First 5 at the county level: integrating some cross-sector data and working to do expand where we can, using data to target interventions to infants, families and neighborhoods–through playgroups but also through the 0 to 8 MHC’s grant-funded pilot project focusing on ACES and children 0-3 in Fortuna, Eureka and McKinleyville, identifying assessment tools and shared metrics, such as our use of Humboldt’s Kindergarten Screening Tool results in our data analysis, and building strong cross-agency partnerships through the 0 to 8 Mental Health Collaborative, our recent convening of an early childhood/Mental Health Services Act workgroup, the Infant Regional Mental Health workgroup, and the ACES Stakeholder Group convened by the North Coast Grantmaking Partnership and First 5. Last but not least, depending on approval of Humboldt County’s Budget next week, we are about to launch a partnership with Humboldt’s Department of Health and Human Services to work on ACES prevention, thanks to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors’ foresight and commitment to address ACES in our county.

In all, I think First 5 Humboldt is doing some innovative and powerful work. My hat is off to our current Commission, staff, our partners and community advocates, former Commissioners, and former ED Wendy Rowan for creating such a strong and forward-looking Humboldt County Children and Families Commission.

Click on the infographic below to open the full image.

Medicaid plays a critical role in the first 1000 days of a child's life in addressing ACES and preventing negative lifelong outcomes

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