Mining the “Lessons Learned” from Trauma Legislation Successes

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Conference
At the 2018 ASEs Conference. L to R: Afomeia Tesfai, Rep. Geran Tarr, Jeff Hild
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The planned agenda for the “Learning Series: Policy Approaches to Childhood Adversity” workshop at the 2018 ACEs Conference: Action to Access went out the window when an unexpected guest— California Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula, MD—was invited to open the session and join the other participants in lively exchanges about their advocacy experiences and perspectives on hot button issues such as parental separation and economic supports for families.

As a physician, Arambula said that the trauma caused by placing people in cages at the border violated the principle in medicine “First, do no harm.”  In the question and answer segment, he praised the strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect as outlined in a CDC technical package for distilling and elevating the fundamental supports needed by families to thrive. With the goal of strengthening participants’ understanding of the policy development and implementation process, panelists used two cases studies—one national and one state—to demystify the intricacies of the legislative process.

Jeff Hild, policy director of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University, presented a case study of how trauma-informed provisions first included in the Heitkamp-Durbin “Trauma-Informed Care for Children and Families Act, S. 774” made their way into the recently passed opioid legislation (H.R. 6).  (See this article in ACEs Connection for a description of this process). I then presented an overview of trends in state legislation, providing a context for the second case study on a major policy victory in Alaska. Some of the information on legislation came from the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) tracking of bills related to adverse childhood. . .

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