Council works to understand the impact of adverse childhood experiences

At yesterday’s meeting of The Highland Council (13 December 2018), Members noted the thorough work currently being  led by the Council’s Care and Learning Service and the significant contribution this makes to the journey in becoming an ACE-Aware Council.

With more and more steps being made nationally and locally to understand the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), Highland Council is continuing to improve services and decision making surrounding adversity and trauma in childhood and the impact it can have on mental and physical health in later life.

Research clearly demonstrates that childhood adversity and trauma has both long and short term effects on learning, education, behaviour, mental health, socio-economic status and nearly all important outcomes in childhood and throughout life.

Adversity and trauma tends to have a longer and deeper impact the earlier it is experienced in life. Research also suggests there are other apparently “critical” periods in a person’s development that can be strongly affected, such as early adolescence.

However, if dealt with early on in a sufficient way, the impact of trauma and adversity can be reduced or even eliminated. The Council recognises that as a public body it plays a key role in providing support for those who experience trauma and adversity, along with other services and organisations such as the NHS and Police.

The Highland Council Care and Learning Service is well placed to do this as it provides both universal and targeted services to children and families from birth through to 19 years of age, through health visiting, early years, education, school nursing and social care services.

In recent months, there has been an increase in awareness training for Council practitioners and managers. Due to its high national profile, it was decided to use the film ‘Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope’, as a way of encouraging discussion about childhood adversity and trauma throughout schools and in wider children’s services.

Twelve workshops about ACEs were held for Council staff throughout June 2018. This resulted in discussion from over 500 members of staff which lead to further conversation in the new school session.

The film was screened for Elected Members in the Council Chamber yesterday and was met with interest and reflection about trauma and adversity related issues.

Councillor John Finlayson, Chair of the Care, Learning and Housing Committee said:

“Building children’s resilience to stressors through positive relationships and the environment in which children grow and develop is at the root of all our services, supported by the Getting it Right for Every Child policy and multi-agency working.  Everyone has a role to play in helping to prevent and mitigate the effects of childhood adversity.”

14 Dec 2018
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