Start: May 2019

Funder: The Burke Foundation, The Nicholson Foundation, and the Turrell Fund

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) — such as abuse, neglect, exposure to violence, and family dysfunction — are linked to negative impacts on child development and can lead to profound, long-term health and social outcomes. With this understanding, states are beginning to launch coordinated efforts aimed at preventing these exposures and mitigating their influence on children’s health and well-being.

In New Jersey, over 40 percent of children — more than 782,000 — are estimated to have experienced at least one ACE, and 18 percent are estimated to have experienced multiple ACEs. Three foundations with a deep commitment to the state — The Burke FoundationThe Nicholson Foundation, and Turrell Fund — formed the NJ Funders ACEs Collaborative (the Collaborative) to support programs that benefit vulnerable children and families across the state. As a foundational step, the Collaborative commissioned a comprehensive analysis to better understand the impact of ACEs in New Jersey and identify key opportunities for addressing the prevalence of ACEs and reducing their lasting effects.

As a next step, the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS), with support from the Collaborative, is bringing together stakeholders from across New Jersey to inform a statewide ACEs Action Plan to address, prevent, protect against and heal from the impact of ACEs. In collaboration with human-centered design consultant Looking Glass Strategy, CHCS is convening a series of focus groups with key constituencies — families and caregivers, health, education, business, child and family services, policymakers, law enforcement and the judicial system, and community leaders — whose perspectives are essential to building a comprehensive approach to addressing ACEs. An “executive on loan,” positioned within the New Jersey Department of Children and Families and funded by the Collaborative, will be tasked with implementing the action plan at the state level.

While specific to the New Jersey landscape, the final action plan will be made publicly available to support other stakeholders across the country who are considering similar statewide initiatives.