Designing a radically simple plan to address one of the most complicated topics on the planet: the data-driven prevention of childhood trauma and social adversity
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Are you ready for a challenge and opportunity this big?
Imagine you wish to take on one of the most complex public health crises in the nation. We’re talking about a costly challenge that impacts children, parents, grandparents, the entire school and higher education system, and ultimately impacts the workforce and local economies. Add to this that the challenge leads to substance misuse and untreated mental health challenges, while prevention requires an understanding of ten distinct social support programs (all with their own field of study, by the way) and can only succeed with a combination of tech-savvy, organizational development experience, social justice insights and deep political wisdom.
Are you still game? If so, welcome to the 100% Community course: No Bigger Challenge and Opportunity: The data-driven prevention of childhood trauma and social adversity.
A normal course would lay out the learning objectives along with a series of lessons designed to meet those objectives by empowering the learner. We will be doing that but first, allow us to present a global overview of what we (you, us) are doing in this grand experiment (the course), which is part of another grander experiment (the 100% Community initiative).
Why these twenty concepts?
In order to begin to grasp the components of a project with the mission of preventing childhood trauma and social adversity, let us share why you need to understand twenty concepts that are the foundation of the work. If we, collectively, are going to take on one of the nation’s biggest public health crisis — a challenge that impacts everyone — including all those involved in this course, we need to get on the same page. And be diligent about our comprehensive approach.
A gentle warning: This is not the type of course where you might wish to slide or fake it when you’re pulled in different directions (as our 24/7 connected lives tend to do). We’re talking about the children and parents in your communities who are depending on us to get started with addressing ACEs — and get it right.
Think of it this way, imagine your new house is being built on a foundation of twenty large wooden beams. You cannot afford to have one break. It’s the same way with the following twenty concepts, each one plays a critical role in the building a local 100% Community initiative.
What have I gotten myself into?
This would be a good time to be thinking, “What am I getting myself into and, equally important, how was this course created if the problem it seeks to address is being presented as near-impossible to fix?” Good questions, all.
First, you have gotten yourself into the nation’s first course on the data-driven prevention of childhood trauma, a process that is also cross-sector, tech-empowered and county-focused. It’s been two decades since the first publication of the ACEs Study by doctors Felitti and Anda, so it’s about time we used science and grass roots local movement-building to end this epidemic of trauma.
Second, this course is based, in part, on a process developed to fix child welfare, teaching managers how to use data and collaboration to identify and solve challenges in the office and the field. This child welfare course was tested in New Mexico, Connecticut, New York City and Pennsylvania with success and a fair share of challenges. This course you are about to embark on is the result of decades worth of research and practical experience that demonstrate well-resourced and resilient communities lead to trauma free and thriving families.
What’s the “what, why, who and how” of the course?
The first concepts represent the “what,” meaning what challenges are we facing. Concept one would be the potentially-traumatizing 1) adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) that occur in the home. This requires a basic understanding of 2) child and brain development. Concept three would be 3) social adversity, all the challenges a person faces when they step out the door of their home.
The second set of concepts include the reason why the challenges exist, referred to as root causes, and these include the 4) social determinants of health, a field of study that explores how a person’s community environment can impact their health and opportunities with learning, work and wealth. We also must explore 5) historical trauma, a field of study documenting centuries of social injustice, disparities, and all the “isms” you’re familiar with to describe the unfair treatment of people.
When we talk about community environments we are talking about access to the ten local family, youth and student services we refer to as the 6) surviving and thriving services. For survival we include housing, food, medical care, behavioral health care, and transport. For thriving services include parent support, early childhood learning, community schools, youth mentors, job training). Each one of the ten local services in your county have their own histories, research and political relationships associated with them.
The mission of 100% Community initiative is to empower local champions to create the services to ensure trauma-free and thriving children, students and families. This means that the initiative works across ten sectors to provide quality and accessible services.
This leads us to the frameworks we use to take on such a monumental task across ten sectors that function within all the cities, towns and communities within a 7) county’s borders. (Yes, we chose the county model for some very pragmatic, economic and political reasons.)
We are a data-driven process guided by the 8) continuous quality improvement framework that includes four phases: assessing, planning, acting and evaluating.
We are also following the 9) collective impact model with the following components: a shared vision, goals, use of data, use of communications strategy, interrelated activities and solid economic base.
The other concept worth introducing is called 10) technical challenges and adaptive challenges. This is a way of thinking about identifying and solving complex and political challenges. In a nutshell, it asks all of us to look at community or organizational problems as either technical challenges or adaptive challenges. Technical ones have an agreed upon path to follow for problem-solving while adaptive ones have no agreed upon path forward and you’re in uncharted waters. Trust us, you don’t want to confuse a technical challenge with an adaptive one.
Each county will be doing a 11) readiness and capacity assessment, assessing to what degree local leaders and stakeholders are committed to improving the ten surviving and thriving services. All our work with the 100% Community initiative is 12) working in alignment with existing local efforts.
Speaking of assessments, you will know to what degree your county’s parents and youth have access to the ten vital services because you will be asking them on the 13) Resilient Community Experience Survey, “To what degree can you access services and if you face challenges, what are they?”
One key planning tool we use to design our projects is a 14) logic model, that is a visual representation of a plan to guide a project that includes the project’s goal, purpose, inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes.
As we seek to improve the quality of family services and their accessibility, we will research 15) evidence-informed strategies. We will find that many of our local challenges have already been tested and evaluated in other localities, meaning we don’t need to reinvent wheels.
You will want to understand how 16) technology can be used to support 100% Community innovations and projects.
To get anything of substance accomplished, we must build 17) relationships and partnerships with the leaders and stakeholders on the state, county, city levels, including schools, higher education, nongovernmental organizations, foundations and the chamber of commerce.
The 100% Community initiative will be developing and launching innovations and projects, many of them requiring 18) public and private sector partnerships.
We will describe our entire 19) 100% Community initiative’s process including the history, mission, vision, process and organizational structure,roles and expectations of co-community organizers and action team leaders and members, and the benefits of being part of the groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind initiative.
Lastly, we don’t underestimate the importance of 20) self-care while a local champion works on the 100% Community initiative in the arena of ACEs, trauma, social adversity and social change. It’s going to be a wild ride.
Ready to test your knowledge?
The 100% Community course provides Action Team members with all the resources and skills to identify and address gaps in services through a data-driven process of continuous quality improvement. Your 100% Community initiative is not only guided by data, but a cross-sector process empowered by technology.
As of this writing, you are officially the first community champion to take on the epidemic of childhood trauma with such an initiative. After decades of talking “awareness” and “being informed” about trauma, we now move to prevent trauma before it can start.
We want to set up action teams to succeed, not tinker around the edges of problems. To do this requires that we provide training for all those wishing to get to results. It helps all members of the 100% Community initiative, at the beginning, to know what degree potential co-organizers and action team members understand the key concepts informing 100% Community initiative work.