Adverse Childhood Experiences & Trauma
MaineHealth and our community partners are working together to reduce the impact of adverse childhood experiences on children in the communities we serve.
What are adverse childhood experiences?
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are stressful or traumatic experiences that happen during the first 18 years of life. One in four Maine children experience two or more ACEs in their home, community or school, such as:
- Exposure to addiction, violence or bullying
- Food insecurity and homelessness
- Abuse and neglect
- Death of a parent, parental separation or divorce
- Medical or mental illness
Children exposed to multiple ACEs can have higher rates of:
- Developmental delays and academic problems
- Anxiety, depression, or behavioral concerns
- Long-term health issues as adults
How can I help?
- Be Informed: Review the patient resources on this page so you can make an informed decision about next steps for your child.
- Ask for Help: Behavioral health treatments can reduce the negative effects of childhood trauma. Many MaineHealth medical practices offer access to behavioral health services right in the same office or close by. If you are concerned about your child, talk to your primary care or family medicine provider today.
Parenting Through Challenges
MaineHealth is committed to sharing ACEs knowledge and best practices across our health care system and beyond. Our goal is to help providers recognize and respond to all types of ACEs and trauma.
Realize. Recognize. Respond.
MaineHealth has created a free ACEs screening tool for providers that includes recommended screening questions and sample language to use when communicating with families and children.
Health care providers may also want to review our ACEs Provider Education Video Series co-hosted by Steve DiGiovanni, MD and Rebecca Brown, LCSW:
- Addressing ACEs and Trauma in Pediatric Settings (Part 1)
- Implementation and Support (Part 2)
- Practice Strategies for Addressing ACEs - Webinar (Part 3)
- Adverse Childhood Experiences, Implications for the Health Care System: Maine Medical Center Grand Rounds
- How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime: TedMed, Nadine Burke Harris, MD
- Identification and management of childhood exposure to violence and trauma: Portland Defending Childhood
Several evidence-based trauma treatments have been shown to be successful in reducing the negative effects of childhood trauma and increasing resiliency in children. >Maine Behavioral Healthcare offers several trauma-related services for children (individually or with their parents or guardians) from on-the-scene volunteer crisis assistance to brief and long-term therapy programs such as:
- Child-Parent Psychotherapy
- Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
- Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention
MaineHealth behavioral health clinicians can help with:
- Further screening
- Community resources
- Individual and group therapy
- Family counseling
- Parent support
- Child Developmental Services
- Community Partnership for Protecting Children
- Maine Behavioral Healthcare
- MMC Department of Psychiatry
- MaineHealth Care at Home
- Portland Public Health
- Maine Kids Count Data Book
- Maine Resilience Building Network
- The Opportunity Alliance
- The United Way of Greater Portland
- Aces Too High
- The Amazing Brain: Trauma and the Potential for Healing
- American Academy of Pediatrics, The Resilience Project
- CDC/Kaiser ACE study, Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults
- Center for Child Stress & Health
- Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Centers for Disease Control Infographic – We Can Prevent Childhood Adversity
- The Center for Youth Wellness
- Childhood Adversity Narratives
- Futures Without Violence
- National Center for Grieving Children and Families
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) Toolkit for Healthcare Providers
- Note to Parents and Caregivers
- Sesame Street in Communities
- Treating Childhood Trauma: Oprah Winfrey reports on CBS on how trauma plays a role in childhood development and what new methods are being used to help kids who have experienced it.
The educational materials on this page may be displayed, copied, distributed or downloaded for personal or noncommercial uses, provided that such material is not altered or modified and that a reference to MaineHealth is provided.
The information shared on this page is intended to assist clinicians in standardizing the evaluation, diagnosis, and care of patients, with the goal of achieving optimal outcomes. The guidelines translate national recommendations and the best available evidence into local context.
Adherence to these guidelines should limit unwanted or unintended variation in practice, but guidelines are not meant to be prescriptive. The clinician retains the responsibility to select the appropriate guideline for a particular patient and to use the guideline to the extent that it serves the individual patient.
Any given approach must be carefully considered with each individual patient to ensure that an effective shared-decision-making process is in place, which reflects the patient's personal wishes, medical history, and family history.