February 2019 Updates

Proposal to Train Teachers on ACEs Gains Ground in Nashville

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A proposal introduced by a Tennessee legislator early this month could mean more training for the state’s teachers on the many ways that trauma can impact students. Senator Raumesh Akbari sponsored Senate Joint Resolution 0166, which calls for local education agencies to provide training on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) for their teachers. Details on the proposed training are still to come, but the resolution has already been passed to the Senate Education Committee for consideration. Updates on the proposal’s progress this session can be found on the Tennessee General Assembly website.


Measuring the Economic Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences

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A study released this month by The Sycamore Institute is shedding light on the economic cost of adverse childhood experiences in Tennessee. Research has long shown that the effects of ACEs are widespread and costly for individuals, families, and communities. In fact, Sycamore estimates that child abuse and neglect alone cost an estimated $124 billion in 2008 and $80 billion in 2012. However, in The Economic Cost of ACEs in Tennessee, researchers looked more closely at those figures, explaining how ACEs shape Tennesseans’ health and influence our state’s economy.

According to the report, “By affecting our health outcomes and behaviors, ACEs increase health care costs in taxpayer-funded programs like TennCare, raise employers’ costs for health care and productivity loss, and shrink earnings for employees who miss work. These costs are shared across many sectors including health care, taxpayer-funded social services, law enforcement, and special education.” The total impact to Tennessee’s economy, according to the study, was some $5.2 billion in direct medical costs and lost productivity in 2017. Read more on The Sycamore Institute website.


Creating Supportive Schools for Kids Who Have Survived Trauma

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Did you know that as many as 45 percent of children — nearly half — have had at least one adverse childhood experience? According to recent Child Trends analyses, that means teachers across the country are likely to have classrooms where almost half of their students have experienced some form of trauma. Researchers have tied stressful events such as divorce, deportation, neglect, sexual abuse, and gun violence to behavioral problems, lower math and reading scores, and poor health. That means creating supportive, trauma-informed learning environments is crucial to students’ academic success. This month, our colleagues at Child Trends released the brief Responding to Trauma through Policies that Create Supportive Learning Environments. In it, a Trauma-Informed Policy Framework to Create Supportive Learning Environments is introduced that is designed to help state officials create supportive learning environments that address the needs of students with a history of traumatic experiences and promote the success of all students.

A supportive learning environment in a school provides a safe and positive school culture and climate, and attends to the physical, mental, social, emotional, and academic needs of all students.

Increasingly, state education policies are moving beyond a focus on academic mastery to include aspects of healthy schools. Despite a growing knowledge base that has identified important links between aspects of a student’s well-being and their chances of overall health and academic success, policies still tend to address each dimension separately. Some approaches promote students’ physical health but not necessarily their mental or emotional health — and an individual student’s social and emotional health is often examined separately from a school’s social and emotional climate.

Child Trends tweeted that it hopes states might use this new policy guidance to create supportive schools for students with a history of trauma. Read more here.


ACEs In The News

A Tennessee Senator announced a bill early this month that would require employers to give their full-time employees time off to attend their child’s school conferences. Senator Katrina Robinson from Memphis is introducing Senate Bill 420, which she told a local news station would help parents make their children’s education a top priority. The bill would allow parents to take four hours of annual leave to attend events such as their children’s parent-teacher conferences. Read more via WMC Action News.


Mark Your Calendars

  • The Universal Parenting Places (UPPs) are offering free workshops and support groups throughout March! Visit the UPP Facebook page for a calendar of events happening at the Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women, Christ Community Health Services-Raleigh, and Knowledge Quest locations.
  • The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth will host its annual Children’s Advocacy Days on March 12-13. The event is meant to spotlight children’s issues and equip child advocates with information and skills to help them speak out on behalf of the state’s children. For more information, visit
  • Register today for ACEs Symposium: Awareness to Action, to be held on Friday, April 5, 8:00 am-noon at the Holiday Inn Ballroom, 3700 Central Avenue. Sponsored by the University of Memphis Loewenberg College of Nursing, in collaboration with the Institute for Interdisciplinary Memphis Partnerships to Advance Community Transformation (iIMPACT), the event will include a keynote address by Wendy Ellis, DrPH (C), MPH, project director of the Building Community Resilience Collaborative at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health. Building Community Resilience is a national collaborative and that seeks to improve the health of children, families, and communities by fostering engagement among grassroots community services and public and private systems to develop a protective buffer against ACEs occurring in adverse community environments.
  • Paradigm Shift Education is accepting proposals for its first annual Trauma Informed Schools Network Conference: Cultivating Connections, to be held in Nashville at Lipscomb University on July 15-16. The focus on the conference is to help educators and education advocates explore new ideas for helping schools become more responsive, supportive environments for children, and using an understanding of trauma to address behavioral challenges in the classroom. The deadline for potential presenters to submit ideas is March 18 at 4:00 pm; final selections will be made by mid-April.

Availability of Funding

Building Strong Brains Tennessee has announced the availability of Innovation Grant funding in fiscal year 2020 for ACEs programs, projects, and activities. The online announcement, along with the required budget template and face sheet, can be found at The deadline to apply is March 15.

What’s Happening Outside Tennessee?



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