Early intervention is reducing toxic stress and improving child health
Did you know that half of Greater Cincinnati’s children have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE), and more than 20 percent of children have experienced two or more? Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, are experiences that can lead to trauma or toxic stress that impact children’s brain development, health and well-being throughout their lifetime.
Thanks to a $1.1 million, three-year grant from bi3, Beech Acres Parenting Center, Cincinnati Children’s Mayerson Center and TriHealth Pediatrics launched Parent Connext, a program that intervenes early in a child’s development, strengthens parental resilience, reduces toxic stress and improves child development and health. It does so by offering a unique package of services like screening, parenting coaching and referral to community resources.
Now in its second year, Parent Connext has hit the ground running, conducting nearly 5,000 screens for adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and parenting stress. There are three types of ACEs: abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction.
Efforts by the Parent Connext program to help address ACEs are proving fruitful:
- Nearly 1,250 families were identified for referral to a parenting specialist.
- Of those referred, nearly half (595) of the families have engaged in services with Parent Connext.
- For those who have engaged in at least three coaching sessions, parents reported improved parent efficacy and parent/child behavior.
- Parents reported that overall, they are highly satisfied with the services they’ve received from the parenting specialist.
How it Works
A parent questionnaire screens for parenting challenges, social determinants of health and adverse childhood experiences. Pediatricians use the screening results, along with their own observations and discussion with families, to refer families to parent coaching. Parent coaching is provided by on-site by a trained parenting specialist to connect families to community resources and provide at least one clear next step to address their parenting challenges. Parenting specialists most often provide parenting guidance, child development education, resource navigation and referral and crisis support.
Parent Connext originally began in three pediatric practices, and has since expanded to three more. By the end of the three-year grant, the program will be available in ten TriHealth and private practices across Hamilton County.
Meet Kelly and Jon
One family which was experiencing difficulty was recently referred to Sue, a Parent Connext parenting specialist, for guidance and support as they worked on creating family goals. Kelly and Jon learned several very practical tools by shifting from the typical reactive mode as parents to a more intentional and mindful approach based on a better understanding and appreciation of each family member’s natural strengths.
This will help them stay grounded when challenges and stressors arise. They also have firm validation of their family’s values and love for one another.
Over the next two years, Parent Connext will execute a research study to establish evidence for the program as a best practice.
Want to learn more about ACEs? Here are two great resources: