Governor Phil Murphy

Murphy Administration Highlights Comprehensive Efforts to Address Trauma and ACEs

09/17/2019

Executive on Loan, Federal Grant to Guide Administration’s Planning

TRENTON – The Murphy Administration today announced its continuing efforts to reduce Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and trauma in New Jersey’s children. The latest advances include a $12 million, multi-year federal grant and an executive on loan, to continue to guide the Administration’s efforts.

“Adverse experiences can affect children and mothers for a lifetime. As the next generation becomes parents, failure to address the impacts of trauma can result in a cycle of suffering and negative health outcomes,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy, whose work to improve maternal and infant health through NutureNJ has incorporated attention to ACEs. “By investing in mitigating the effects of trauma, we will work to ensure that healthy women, both mentally and physically, become healthy pregnant women, and ultimately healthy mothers.”

“I am so proud of all the work our administration has done to bring issues of childhood trauma to light, and to help our State’s families become resilient, thereby protecting future generations,” the First Lady continued. “The continuing federal grant and new executive position announced today will help improve health outcomes for children and families whose lives have been marked by trauma. With the incredible partnership between the Administration, the Department of Children and Families, and the ACEs Funding Collaborative, I know we will make extraordinary progress.”

“Thanks to the generosity of The Nicholson Foundation, Burke Foundation, and Turrell Fund (NJ ACEs Funders Collaborative), DCF will be hosting an Executive on Loan, a national expert in ACEs that will assist New Jersey in coordinating a comprehensive strategy that includes all relevant state government entities,” said Christine Norbut Beyer, Commissioner for the Department of Children and Families.  “This expert will act as a resource and a planner, engaging stakeholders and helping to make NJ a national leader in advancing programs and services that help to heal ACEs. Research has shown that people who experience four or more ACEs in childhood are more likely to face challenges in adulthood, but we also know that identifying ACEs and healing from them can change that trajectory – even in adults.”

The federal grant includes funding for the Promising Path to Success 2.0 initiative, a trauma-informed coaching model that will be used to train staff in multiple divisions and units at the Department of Children and Families and their community-based partners with healing-centered strategies. The program is expected to improve interactions with at least 60,000 youth and young adults over the course of the four-year grant period. 

DCF’s 2015 System of Care Expansion Grant for the first Promising Path to Success (PPS) initiative provided training and implementation coaching to over 130 behavioral health out-of-home treatment setting providers and system partners, statewide. Throughout the PPS project, data and information provided evidence of its effectiveness in assisting staff to engage more effectively with youth and families and build positive relationships supportive of family stability and youth success.

“So many of the children and youth we serve have experienced trauma, often complicated by the social determinants of health, throughout their short lives,” said Mollie Greene, Assistant Commissioner of DCF’s Children’s System of Care. “The services we provide and treatment we offer – in collaboration with our partners – needs to be mindful of children’s past adversity in a way that is recuperative and restorative. With this grant, we can continue our outreach and instruction, to ensure that we are contributing effectively to the healing process.”

Trauma-informed, healing-centered services and treatment are grounded in understanding the biological, psychological, and social effects of trauma on children and adolescents. Practitioners coached through the Promising Paths to Success Initiative gain the knowledge and skills to avoid interventions that may re-traumatize youth and employ healing-centered, relational approaches to working with youth.

“Our knowledge about the long-term effects of ACEs and trauma continues to grow, with new and promising practices helping us to connect with the children and youth in our care,” said Carmen Diaz Petti, Assistant Commissioner of DCF’s Division of Child Protection and Permanency. “Healing the pain of trauma is a critical step towards helping families move beyond it into building safer, healthier, connected relationships.” 

Funding through the grant is $3 million for each of four years, ending in 2023. The trauma-informed coaching will be provided to: staff from DCF’s Divisions of Child Protection and Permanency; staff from the Children’s System of Care; staff from DCF’s Office of Education schools; licensed resource families; kinship families; 15 contracted Care Management Organizations; 15 Family Support Organizations; 15 Mobile Response and Stabilization Services providers; and, 21 county-based Children’s Interagency Coordinating Councils (CIACC).