Conference Explores Tools to Engage Parents and Caregivers

By Kelly Annelli, MHSV, Director of Member Organization Services, CCADV

In September of 2017, I had the privilege of attending the Futures Without Violence National Conference which focused on intimate partner violence and healthcare. One of the preconference workshops I attended was titled “Connected Parents, Connected Kids: A Training Curriculum on ACEs, DV and Child Trauma.”  This topic captured my attention given the increased awareness of ACEs and how the information can be applied to different aspects of an individual’s life.

The training discussed how Futures has expanded and applied its evidence based intervention for domestic violence and broadened it to engage parents and caregivers about the impact of trauma exposures including Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Attendees were provided a pocket card that had information for parents of children who are exposed to domestic violence. The topics on this pocket card included strong families, difficult childhood, health effects, you are a good parent, simple steps to reduce stress and positive parenting. The information aids advocates in developing dialogue with parents around a difficult topic. It also allows advocates to empower parents and gives tips on simple ways for parents and children to connect.

Though the talking points provided by the pocket card can aid advocates in opening the dialogue with parents and caregivers, I would have liked a bit more information on how the ACEs study can be utilized in the current work being done throughout the field. Given the strength of the ACEs literature and its robust outcomes, I would have liked to have more guidance on how this tool can be shifted and applied to better understand the needs of children and their families and how resiliency and strength-based approaches could be developed from this knowledge. However, since the study is being discussed in this arena, I am hopeful that the ACEs study and its outcomes can and will be used to build competency around the effects of adverse childhood experiences across the lifespan and on the family.

Ultimately, the tool is a wonderful stepping stone for relationships to be built and conversations to be shared between victims and advocates as well as victims and their families.  Connected Parents, Connected Kids shows parents that they are not alone in their past and present life experiences, and it does not have to define who they are.