I went to the LouisianaChildren.org Child Well Being conference in May. It was jam packed full of information. It was interesting to see how the different presenters each re-enforced the other. Two of them even used the same quote attributed to Albert Einstein, “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.”
What I found frustrating is that I went to the conference hoping to find others who are passionate about improving the child welfare system. And I did. Numerous people are concerned about the well-being of all children. We truly are a compassionate people here in this state. But, there is no coordinated effort to intervene in an effective manner. What we have are silos and gaps. We have a host of caring and ineffective delivery of inadequate services. Sometimes there is some success, but for the most part what the young people we desperately try to help experiences is far from adequate.
There has been significant research for many years about Adverse Childhood Experiences. The more issues one faces as a child, the greater health risks one will face as an adult. We already know this, it is well documented. (You can calculate your score here: www.theannainstitute.org/Finding Your ACE Score.pdf). The items on the survey include different types of abuse and neglect. Not included are things that no one can foresee or prevent, like death or disaster. Each event named has a profound effect on a person’s life. Stacking up these types of events in a childhood leads to a burden too heavy to carry. The long term emotional and physical health of a person is at risk.
Let’s pretend that we don’t care about other people. Their well being is none of our business. They are not our family members, that’s not my grandchild, why should I care? (I know that’s not you or me, we wouldn’t be here on this blog together if that were the case). The health risks from these events in childhood are heart disease, diabetes, mental health problems and addiction. These problems are expensive to treat. Early intervention is far less expensive. Positive outcomes bring more able bodied people to the work force, thus the economic benefit is beyond simply the savings of early treatment. To me it is painfully obvious that we who have been blessed to have lower ACES scores have an interest in helping those who are at risk of high scores to overcome them.
We do try. We have a social service system in place. However, in the misguided mindset of fiscal responsibility, services are frequently underfunded. There is a huge gap between our expectations of social service providers and our willingness to equip them with the people, training, and supplies that they need in order to be effective. We are not paying adequate attention.