Addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences in Tennessee
Chronic childhood trauma, or what experts call adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), can disrupt a child's brain-building process. Like building a house in a storm or with below-grade materials and tools, ACEs are toxic to brain development and can compromise the brain’s structural integrity. Left unaddressed, ACEs and their effects make it more difficult for a child to succeed in school, live a healthy life and contribute to the state’s future prosperity — our communities, our workforce, and our civic life.
Building Strong Brains: Tennessee ACEs Initiative is a major statewide effort to establish Tennessee as a national model for how a state can promote culture change in early childhood based on a philosophy that preventing and mitigating adverse childhood experiences, and their impact, is the most promising approach to helping Tennessee children lead productive, healthy lives and ensure the future prosperity of the state.
The Tennessee state initiative is born from research gathered in the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, one of the largest investigations of childhood abuse and neglect and their effects on life-long health and well-being. The study found that the greater the exposure to things such as domestic violence, addiction, depression in early childhood, the greater the risk for later-life problems such as higher risk for chronic illnesses, poverty, depression and addictive behaviors.
Tennessee is undertaking a comprehensive effort to use this powerful insight to improve the lives of the state’s children. Leaders from state government, the business world, advocates, insurers, academia and nonprofit foundations are organized as public and private sector steering groups to guide implementation and provide leadership at the state, regional and community levels.
- Increase the potential that every child born in Tennessee has the opportunity to lead a healthy, productive life.
- Raise public knowledge about ACEs.
- Impact public policy in Tennessee to support prevention of ACEs and to reduce community conditions that contribute to them.
- Support innovative local and state projects that offer fresh thinking and precise measurement of impact in addressing ACEs and toxic stress in children.
- Seek sustainable funding to ensure the state maintains a long-term commitment to reduce the impact of adverse childhood experiences.
- Embrace open, responsive governance through statewide planning groups and the Three Branches Institute , comprised of leadership from the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government, who were invited by the Governor to form a common agenda to advance child welfare and realign the juvenile justice system.
Map of Building Strong Brains Community Innovations
Download a state-wide map listing Building Strong Brains projects across Tennessee.
- Addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences: A Case for Attention and Action in Tennessee
- The Tennessee ACEs initiative overview
- Adverse Childhood Experiences: Prevention, Mitigation, and Recovery Anticipated Multi-Sector, Multi-Level, Public and Private Impacts
- Childhood Stress and Urban Poverty: The Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences on Health
- The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative: Where Science Meets Real Life
- Finding Your Frame: Translating the Science of Early Adversity for Action
- Announcement of Funding - Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Initiative
- Additional resources on the Tennessee Commission for Children & Youth website.
- Public Opinion about ACEs
- Building Strong Brains Organizational Capacity and Transformation Report
- Adverse Childhood Experiences: A Public Health Issue Building Strong Brains Tennessee series by WCTE