Pediatric Resiliency Collaborative (PeRC) and KIDS Network of Santa Barbara County have received a total of $350,000 in grant funds from the Office of the California Surgeon General and the Department of Health Care Services to participate in the state’s Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Aware initiative.

ACEs Aware grants are funding the organizations to design and implement training and education activities for providers and organizations that serve Medi-Cal beneficiaries. A total of $14.3 million was awarded to 100 organizations throughout California.

The initiative seeks to change and save lives by helping Medi-Cal providers understand the importance of screening for ACEs and train them to respond with trauma-informed care.

Cottage Health and a number of local organizations have formed the PeRC, which has received an ACEs Aware training grant for $200,000.

PeRC partner organizations include CALM, Carpinteria Children’s Project, CenCal Health, Family Service Agency, James S. Bower Foundation, Priory Fund, Resilient Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County Public Health Care Centers, and Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics.

PeRC, a pioneering effort to implement universal ACEs screening throughout Santa Barbara County, aims to train 75 percent of pediatricians and their clinic staff within the county, as well 25 percent of pediatric providers in neighboring counties.

ACEs are defined as stressful or traumatic experiences occurring before the age of 18, such as abuse, neglect, substance use, divorce, and/or domestic violence.

“It has never been more important to understand the impact of adversity on the health and well-being of children and families. Stressful life events in childhood that occur during sensitive periods of development can activate physiological changes that impact the cardiovascular system, immune system and neurologic system, to name a few,” said Dr. Andria Ruth.

“These changes affect our risk of disease and mental health concerns across the lifespan. By training physicians to ask about exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences and giving them the resources to provide education and support to families in order to ameliorate these effects and promote resilience, we can improve the physical, mental and emotional health of children and families in our community,” Dr. Ruth said.

“We are honored to be recognized by the state of California as leaders in this endeavor,” Dr. Ruth said.

All PeRC trainings will be offered at no charge to Medi-Cal and other providers, and will be offered as recordings online and promoted for use throughout the Central Coast and state. The recordings will also be available to the KIDS Network’s Central Coast Convening, which also has received an ACEs grant.

KIDS Network received the ACEs Aware Provider Engagement Grant for $150,000. The cross-sector, umbrella organization serves as the hub for the Resilient Santa Barbara County (RSBC) network, a countywide network dedicated to preventing and reducing the impacts of ACEs and Adverse Community Environments.

KIDS Network has promoted collaborative approaches among service providers and community stakeholders to identify priorities and improve outcomes for children, youth and families.

For the past four years, KIDS Network has co-created and co-sponsored the Santa Barbara County Bridges to Resilience conference, a full-day conference with renowned speakers and local experts, designed to increase awareness about ACEs, resilience, and trauma-informed care.

“With the ACEs Aware grant, we will be able to extend the reach of this successful conference into neighboring counties, using a virtual platform to bring renowned speakers and opportunities for connection,” said Barbara Finch, Children and Adult Network director, with Santa Barbara County Department of Social Services and KIDS Network.

“ACEs Aware will help us engage medical providers and strengthen care networks to holistically support the health and wellbeing of children, youth, and families throughout the tri-county region,” she said.