Valley Children’s Awarded $500,000 Grant to Combat Adverse Childhood Experiences

Valley Children’s Awarded $500,000 Grant to Combat Adverse Childhood Experiences
Featured photo: Matt Gush -

(Madera, California) – Valley Children’s, along with a collaborative of Merced community-based organizations, has been selected as a $500,000 recipient by the California Department of Health Care Services to combat adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress screening. ACEs are stressful or traumatic events children experience before the age of 18, including abuse and neglect. The screenings will focus on patients at Valley Children’s Olivewood Pediatrics in Merced. 

“We are honored to receive this grant, which supports our ongoing commitment to improving the health and well-being of kids in our Central Valley,” said Valley Children’s Senior Vice President and Chief Community Impact Officer Lynne Ashbeck. “It is well understood that adverse childhood experiences negatively impact the development, academic and overall well-being of children. This funding elevates our continued work with local partners to prevent and respond to the negative health effects for kids on an even larger scale.”

The grant is designed to strengthen community partnerships centered on the care of children, service delivery and family education and workforce development. A care navigator will be hired to help ensure a seamless connection for families between their healthcare provider and community resources. Valley Children’s is one of 25 grantees selected statewide.

“Children who are exposed to ACEs and toxic stress, are at increased risk for lifelong health conditions including obesity, diabetes, asthma, cancer, high blood pressure and mental health problems,” explained Dr. Carmela Sosa, medical director of Valley Children’s Guild Center for Community Health. “Screening, education and early interventions that we know are effective, will improve the long-term physical and emotional health of our children.”

The grant was submitted with several key Merced County partners, including ACEsINC, ACE Overcomers, Merced Help Me Grow/First Five, Central California Alliance for Health, Merced 2-1-1, Merced County Office of Education, California Health Collaborative and others.

This award is part of a third round of funding for the ACEs Aware Initiative called Preventing and Responding to ACEs - Associated Health Conditions and Toxic Stress in Clinics through Community Engagement (PRACTICE). The goal is to increase the workforce and services needed for primary care clinics to expand and sustain screening and response to ACEs and toxic stress in local communities.

Participation in the PRACTICE grant is aligned with the priorities of Valley Children’s Guilds Center for Community Health, the first of its kind in the Central Valley. It was established to help bridge the exceptional care kids receive within the Valley Children's network and the health impacts children experience where they live, learn and play.

The awarding of funds was done in partnership with the Office of the California Surgeon General (CA-OSG), UCLA-UCSF ACEs Aware Family Resilience Network (UCAAN), and Population Health Innovation Lab (PHIL), a program of the Public Health Institute (PHI). Funding is awarded to teams that will be led by clinics and will include community-based organizations and Medi-Cal managed care plans. 

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