As project director of the Resilience Network of the Gorge, Claire Ranit believed her work meant approaching community partners with a continual invitation.
They responded with an emphatic yes.
The Rev. Sanghoon Yoo learned about the ACE Study, saw the film Paper Tigers and understood that there might be a way to bridge the chasm between faith-based views of wellness and traditional approaches to mental health.
“When I heard from the science and Paper Tigers that one of the most important factors for resilience is unconditional love, I thought: That’s not medical. That’s my language. That was an ‘aha’ moment for me; I never thought mental health and faith would go together.”
In 2019, the Maine Resilience Building Network grew up. After seven years of operating as a volunteer-driven, grass-roots, cross-sector coalition devoted to building resilience for the state’s children, families and communities, MRBN developed a business plan, applied for non-profit status and hired its first two paid staff.
That work was supported by the Bingham Program, a charitable endowment at Tufts Medical Center and a longtime funder of MRBN, formed in 2012 to educate individuals and organizations across Maine about ACEs, their impact and the protective factors that can help people thrive.
Members of the volunteer leadership team leapt at the prospect of having paid staff and being able to “continue this work in a more meaningful and organized manner,” says Kini-Ana Tinkham, who moved from the leadership team to become MRBN’s executive director. “We just hit the ground running; there’s so much work to be done.”
For years, advocates for a statewide children’s mental health system would stand before Iowa legislators and speak passionately about their own particular concerns.
Psychiatrists pointed to a need for more inpatient beds for youth with severe mental illness. Pediatricians said the answer was better screening to identify mental health issues in children from birth to age five. Educators wanted more school-based mental health services, and advocates from grassroots groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) asked for increased crisis services.
“We were all saying, ‘Throw money at this issue,’” says Chaney Yeast, co-chair of the policy coalition of Central Iowa ACEs 360, a multi-sector network formed in 2012. “That confused legislators; they felt it was this black hole, and they didn’t act.”
The elementary school principal routinely broke into tears.
At Wednesday afternoon meetings of the Creating Trauma Sensitive Arizona Schools work group, a committee of the Arizona ACE Consortium, the leader of a high-need, inner-city K-5 school frequently wept as she talked about the trauma her students carried into the classroom and the ways it percolated throughout her campus: in lagging test scores, behavior problems, even teacher retention.
The other committee members became her cheering squad, recalls Marcia Stanton, senior program specialist in the Center for Family Health and Safety at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and leader of the ACE Consortium from its 2007 inception until this year. The classroom teachers, superintendents and behavioral health specialists at the table asked questions of the principal: Who is your community? What would inspire people to become involved? How can we help?
In 2017, two youth-focused Camden organizations were angling for the same pot of grant money—funding for a youth-led initiative to learn about community health concerns and develop projects to address them.
But instead of scrabbling for the grant as rivals, Hopeworks and UrbanPromise became one another’s cheerleaders. In phone conferences with funders, representatives of both organizations noted their history of collaboration and stressed the importance of taking a trauma-informed approach to the project.
In 2011, a county-wide training on trauma, hosted by Crawford County Human Services and attended by 150 professionals, yielded curiosity, a brief ripple of enthusiasm and…not much else.
Two years later, another Crawford conference—this time, drawing 170 professionals and service providers, family members and youth—became a catalyst, a key moment in the genesis of Peace4Crawford, a cross-sector, grass-roots movement to build a healthy and resilient community in the western Pennsylvania county.
The difference, according to Peace4Crawford steering committee members, is that by the time of the second conference, social service agencies, the juvenile probation department, drug and alcohol recovery center and schools had begun to collaborate, using the shared language of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and resilience to plumb the root causes of the disparate problems all were seeing.
This toolkit supports network engagement in policy and advocacy efforts. Examples from networks across the country bring the work to life and companion infographics make it easy to incorporate content in your own presentations.
This brief, Building Stronger Networks (May 2019), explores how a framework recognizing adverse childhood experiences, trauma, and resilience (ATR) can facilitate and accelerate community collaboration. It builds on existing literature regarding common collaboration challenges and draws from a series of key informant interviews conducted by Andrea K. Blanch, Ph.D., and David L. Shern, Ph.D.