This summer, a bill addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences, also known as ACEs, a range of traumatic events that can hinder a child’s development and can have a severe negative impact on their adult life, passed the state Senate and Assembly. The bill is now being delivered to Gov. Kathy Hochul.
The bill looks at the prevention and mitigation of ACEs such as experiencing childhood neglect or abuse, mental health issues, poverty, or a family member’s death.
According to the CDC, across 23 states, 62% of adults reported experiencing ACEs growing up. About one-quarter of those adults experienced three or more. These experiences could be emotionally painful and can impact the overall health and opportunity.
The CDC also says that ACEs could lead to disrupted neurodevelopment, social, emotional, and cognitive impairment, adoption of health risk behaviors, social problems, and in some cases, death.
Communities of color and low-income families are disproportionately affected by ACEs due to their social and economic challenges. Project director at Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, Kari Siddiqui, says this particularly impacts Black families in New York state.
"Those communities and those families are living in poverty at higher rates and that poverty is very closely linked with, unfortunately, adverse childhood experiences because of the stress and the strains that are put on our families who are experiencing poverty," Siddiqui said.
If it becomes law, this legislation would establish a task force to find solutions for adverse childhood experiences. Within two years of becoming law, the task force will need to issue a report with its findings.
"The task force will have individuals who are experts in ACEs and are cognizant and are also on the ground, you know, working on this issue. So, we encourage any and all people to be a part of this conversation. And so, you know, groups can apply once the bill was signed and also be involved in the work," said Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages.
Advocates say the bill will support the CDC’s recommendations for tackling ACEs, which include strengthening economic support for families, promoting social norms to protect against adversity and violence, teaching skills to handle stress, and connecting youth to caring adults and activities.
The bill has yet to be sent to the governor’s desk, but if signed, it would take effect immediately.