Local Agencies Unite to Increase Family Resilience

GOSHEN – On Friday, December 14 the Orange County Parenting Coalition, in collaboration with the Trauma Institute of Orange County and the Departments of Mental Health and Social Services held a screening of the film Resilience at the Emergency Services Center that was attended by nearly 120 professionals. The film documents how increased stress in childhood caused through experiences such as parental separation, physical, emotional or sexual abuse, having a parent with mental illness, having a parent who is challenged by substance abuse, the loss of a caregiver, having a family member who is incarcerated, witnessing domestic violence, food insecurity and similar, can physically change the biology of a child.

The cause and effect of these so called Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) were revealed by a large scale study in 1999 titled the Kaiser Permanente ACE Study. The study links a significantly increased risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and autoimmune disease, obesity, behavioral health, mental health and similar conditions to toxic stress in childhood.

The purpose of the screening of Resilience, was to raise awareness among individuals who work with families and children, as well as to learn about how ACEs can be prevented by increasing resilience in families and in our community. Following the film, participants actively engaged in a discussion about how to incorporate this knowledge into their work, how to employ a trauma-informed approach, and how to create welcoming environments for the families they work with.

Orange County Commissioner of Social Services and Mental Health Darcie Miller encouraged participants to take what they learned and discuss it with their colleagues, friends and families with the goal to engage the larger community in developing the skills that lead to greater resilience across the board. As Commissioner Miller said, “Prevention is really what is most effective to ensure the future health and well-being of our community. While the concept of a trauma-informed approach is not new in the field of mental health, it is my hope that this approach will be adopted by all fields of human services and across sectors.”

Julika von Stackelberg, Co-Chair of the Orange County Parenting Coalition and Cornell Cooperative Extension Orange County Parenting & Family Life Educator states, “Our vision is for Orange County to become a poster child for the creation of a coordinated community response to adverse childhood experiences and building resilience not only to improve the health and well-being of our community, but in a way that it can be replicated by other communities nationwide.”

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