HFP to lead national effort on early childhood adversity and resilience

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Philadelphia, PA --  The Health Federation of Philadelphia is pleased to announce a $4.8 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This grant will enable the Federation to identify and invest in promising community-level collaborative efforts that are focused on reducing the prevalence and impact of early childhood adversity and promoting family and community resilience.

A growing body of research in epidemiology, neurobiology and epigenetics has clearly demonstrated that exposure to early childhood adversity, such as child abuse, neglect, or community violence can derail the normal development of young bodies and brains and directly lead to poor health later in life. A growing number of national and local studies have been tracking the prevalence of a specific set of risk factors known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Those studies consistently reveal that traumatic experiences in childhood are far too common, affecting between one- to two-thirds of the general population,  and constitute a public heath epidemic.

Solutions that prevent and heal any exposure to childhood trauma and promote resilience of children and families are essential to building a “Culture of Health”, the overarching vision of  the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“We are grateful to Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for their investment in this work and for their recognition that there can be no Culture of Health without preventing or mitigating the impact of childhood adversity and trauma,” said Natalie Levkovich, CEO of The Health Federation.  “We see this project as key to fueling a national movement aimed at finding and spreading effective strategies to support the healthy development of children, families, and communities.”

Under the Health Federation’s leadership, the Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC) project will identify a diverse group of communities (rural and urban, large and small) with well-established coalitions and partnerships that have a demonstrated history of working together to reduce childhood adversity and promote resilience.  These communities will be invited to apply to join a two-year learning collaborative where they can benefit from peer sharing and technical assistance, and where targeted investments will help these communities to expand their networks, test innovative approaches and share their findings. This funding seeks to add timely and critical support to accelerate the momentum of this movement as well as to learn about and share innovative ways that communities are using the Adverse Childhood Experiences framework to address violence and trauma.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation chose The Health Federation of Philadelphia to lead this effort based on HFP’s long history of convening partnerships and its deep expertise and national recognition in the field of trauma informed practice, both as a provider of innovative models of trauma treatment and as a consultant to numerous organizations and systems integrating trauma informed practice change.  HFP is the home to the Multiplying Connections Initiative and more recently to the Philadelphia ACEs Task Force.  Both efforts have built strong coalitions focused on local prevention of childhood adversity and promotion of resilience.  HFP recently partnered with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to produce the Community Resilience Cookbook, an online resource that profiles nine communities engaged in the work of preventing/treating trauma and promoting resilience.

For additional information about the MARC Project and the Health Federation’s work on trauma informed practice, please contact Leslie Lieberman.