Taking ACES Upstream: Strengthening Prevention of Adverse Childhood Experiences

The continued findings and research from the Adverse Childhood Experience Study (ACES) have identified robust associations between a child experiencing early trauma and a wide array of poor health, economic, and life outcomes.

The study has led to significant reform efforts in health care, social services and child welfare, primarily focused on educating staff about “trauma-informed care” and identifying ways to ameliorate the impact of early trauma after it has happened.

In June 2018, Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA America) created the Taking ACES Upstream Affinity Group—a voluntary network of PCA America state-chapter leaders to  share ideas focused on using the research from the ACE study to strengthen prevention of trauma—before it ever happens. The two primary goals of the group included sharing promising ideas and strategies and issuing a set of recommendations for state and national policy to strengthen prevention of early childhood trauma based on the findings from the ACE study.

The affinity group consisted of more than 30 executive directors and staff of PCA America state chapters, working with PCA America senior staff, including Dr. Bart Klika, Chief Research and Strategy Officer; Marissa Morabito, Director of Policy; and Anita Odom, Director of Chapter Services. Dr. Melissa Merrick, then Senior Epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also participated. Rush Russell, Executive Director from PCA New Jersey, served as the chairperson. The group held a series of meetings, including reviews of the most recent research, perspectives from the CDC, state experiences with CDC’s Essentials for Childhood Initiative, and training and education initiatives, such as ACE Interface and Master Connections.

Lead author:


Anita Odom, Dr. Melissa T. Merrick, Rush Russell

Related Resources

Toolkits & Guides

ACEs/Vital Signs Report Resources & Talking Points

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