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Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are toxic or traumatic events during childhood that can have negative impacts on a child’s development that can extend long into adulthood.

  • ACEs can predict how physically and emotionally healthy a child will be later in life.
  • Children who experience ACEs have a higher risk for developmental, social, and emotional impairments.
  • Exposure to ACEs can impact physical health, including increased risk for diseases in adulthood.

By starting at the earliest opportunity to prevent and reduce exposure to ACEs, children have a better chance of living healthy, productive lives. Dr. Lorraine McKelvey, UAMS professor and lead Arkansas MIECHV evaluator, stresses that home visiting programs can play an important role in providing much-needed services for families of children with increased exposure to ACEs.

Home visiting services can help prevent and reduce the negative impact of ACEs on children’s development and help to ensure positive outcomes throughout their lives.

Interested in learning more?
Abstract from “Assessing Adverse Experiences From Infancy Through Early Childhood in Home Visiting Programs”

The general aim of early intervention and home visiting programs is to support families to minimize Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). However, assessing children’s exposure to these risks is complicated because parents serve as the conduit for both measurement and intervention. The primary aims of the study were to develop an assessment of children’s exposure to ACEs and to examine concurrently measured parental child abuse and neglect potential and child social–emotional functioning.

Home visiting programs in a southern state implemented the Family Map Inventories (FMI) as comprehensive family assessment and child screenings (N = 1,282) within one month of enrollment. Children (M = 33 months of age, SD = 20) were exposed at rates of 27% to one, 18% to two, 11% to three, and 12% to four or more FMI-ACEs. FMI-ACEs were associated with increased parental beliefs and behaviors associated with child abuse and neglect. FMI-ACEs also significantly predicted the likelihood of the child having at-risk social–emotional development; children with 4 or more FMI-ACEs were over 6 times more likely than those with none to have at-risk scores.

The findings add to our understanding of the negative impact of trauma on children and families. Assessing these risks as they occur in a family-friendly manner provides a platform for early intervention programs to work with families to increase family strengths and reduce the impacts of adverse experiences for their children.