Prescriptions for a better childhood: How to avoid adverse experiences in New Mexico
Katherine Ortega Courtney — a former researcher and policy analyst for New Mexico’s juvenile justice department and Children, Youth and Families Department — and Dominic Cappello are the authors of Anna, Age Eight, a 2017 book about childhood trauma that has inspired the creation of an institute at Northern New Mexico College.
They outline eight basic changes that need to take place in order to heal and eradicate Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in New Mexico.
Many families go without needed medical and dental care because of poverty. This leads to stress, which increases ACEs.
The lack of affordable housing means many kids live in “substandard units in the worst neighborhoods, while making it all the harder [for a parent] to flee an abusive relationship.”
Education and family-centered schools
“The more services we can pack into schools, after school and summer programs, mentoring programs, social workers, case managers, employment centers, medical, reproductive, and behavioral health services, on site tutoring, the better. ... [I]f we put all of these services in a place that kids are going anyway, they are far more likely to take advantage of them.”
Job training and living-wage jobs
“More living wage jobs means fewer ACEs.” Adequate, affordable (or free) food for all. Even with SNAP and food pantries, many poor families continue to struggle to provide enough food for their children.
If families can’t get to medical appointments, school or work, ACEs increase.
Behavioral health care
“We won’t be healing and preventing childhood trauma and maltreatment without a robust behavioral healthcare system in every community.”
Evenly distribute public resources to rich and poor alike. “[W]e cannot afford the lost economic productivity, tax revenue, and increased addiction and crime that neglecting the kids in our less attractive zip codes would produce.”
From Anna, Age Eight: The Data-Driven Prevention of Childhood Trauma and Maltreatment by Katherine Ortega Courtney and Dominic Cappello