As a nation, it is critical to our collective future that we ensure that all children have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Yet early adversity, toxic stress, and trauma are erecting lifelong barriers for many children, jeopardizing their healthy development, their ability to self-actualize, and their long-term well-being. The evidence is clear that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are widespread, and have dramatic, detrimental, and lasting effects on the health and wellbeing of children that can persist into adulthood.
This paper lays out a suite of the most important policies and strategies to leverage the health care system to address ACEs resulting from the combined effects of racial and other inequities and experiences of early adversity on health. It is intended to guide the work of national and state policymakers, state Medicaid agencies, health system leaders, and individual providers.