Schoharie County ACEs Team
- Need: Agencies in Schoharie County, New York were seeing a widespread trend of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in children and families they served.
- Intervention: The Schoharie ACEs Team was formed as a way to educate rural communities about ACEs, the brain science behind it, and ways to build resiliency.
- Results: The ACEs Team has put on 4 half-day educational conferences and 10 trainings for various groups across the region, trained 3 school districts on trauma-informed care, and provided resources for families exposed to trauma.
Siri Young, Mental Health Services Manager at Schoharie County Head Start/Early Head Start, began noticing patterns of trauma in the children referred to her. She found that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) were commonplace for most of these children and families. Schoharie County, located in rural central New York state, has limited access to pediatric mental health providers. Area human service agencies confirmed that ACEs were universally affecting children in the county. They came together to form the Schoharie County ACEs Team in 2015.
The ACEs Team invited a diverse mix of agencies to participate in monthly meetings to organize and build resources, share information, discuss community needs, and plan community-wide ACE educational events. Each one of their events includes education on brain science and strategies for conducting trauma-informed service delivery and building resiliency.
Representatives from multiple sectors serve on the team, including:
- Schoharie County Office of Community Services
- Mobile Crisis Assessment Team
- Gilboa-Conesville Central School District
- Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School District
- Middleburgh Central School District
- Bassett Healthcare Network
- Schoharie County Health Department
- Cobleskill Police Department
- Schoharie County Child Development Council (SCCDC)
- Schoharie County Department of Health Early Interventions Program
- Family and Community Engagement Center of the South Region
- Catholic Charities of Schoharie County
- Schoharie County Community Action Program
- Schoharie County Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse
- SUNY Cobleskill
- Schoharie ARC
- Catskill Regional Teacher Center
- Private practitioners
Team members contribute funds and resources to support the conferences and trainings. Their donations cover printing costs, speaker stipends, and other expenses.
Every year, State University of New York at Cobleskill co-hosts Schoharie County ACEs Team conferences that are free to the public. The conferences last half a day and have included unique aspects centered around community education, such as:
- Keynote speakers with training and background in ACEs. Former speakers have included an author, a well-known blogger, an internationally-known ACE trainer, and a pediatrician and researcher from Montefiore Medical Center.
- An in-depth look at the brain science behind ACEs.
- Methods for building resilience.
- Screenings of the films Resilience: The Biology of Stress & The Science of Hope and Paper Tigers followed by panel discussions.
Upon request, the ACEs Team puts on trainings at various venues and to different audiences like school districts, the board of superintendents, and Job Corps. These trainings are shorter, lasting an hour, and give a broad overview of ACEs.
To date, the Schoharie ACEs Team has achieved the following:
- Hosted 4 ACE conferences at the State University of New York at Cobleskill. Attendance has been around 200 people per conference.
- Hosted 10 trainings at various locations throughout the region.
- Trained 3 school districts in ACEs and trauma-informed care.
- Created resource bags for families raising children exposed to trauma. Bags include resources and practical strategies in addition to ACE information.
Other positive outcomes of the ACEs Team's work include:
- Multiple groups from other New York counties have contacted the ACEs Team asking for advice about starting their own ACE initiative.
- After attending an ACE training, the Cobleskill Police Department implemented a new policy that requires the department to contact the school district counselor if a child has been present during a police call. That way, the child's school will be informed and can provide support.
- Schoharie County Head Start has begun distributing the ACE Questionnaire and the Resilience Questionnaire to families who have experienced ACEs, followed up with discussion about their scores.
- The Schoharie County plan includes goals around addressing ACEs in the community.
- The Schoharie ACEs Team was selected as a site visit from the Health Resources & Services Administration in 2018.
- The ACEs Team was asked to present about their group and work at the New York State Association of County Health Officials.
- Initially, the ACEs Team targeted early childhood development professionals and parents. Since the conversation around ACEs is growing, the events' focuses have expanded to include all community members.
- Parents have been the hardest group to recruit to the conferences. The ACEs team has considered hosting future conferences in a location parents may be more likely to attend – like local elementary or high schools.
- Although the ACEs Team desires for many more groups to join, it has been difficult getting commitments when agencies are already spread so thin.
- After each conference or training, those in attendance typically ask, "what are some specific steps we can implement?" Because ACEs vary for each person, it has been a challenge to outline one formula since plans are typically catered to the environment and to the child.
- Lack of funding and finding funding sources has been another challenge.
- Transportation to venues is difficult for some because public transportation is very limited in a rural area.
The Team recommends the following for those interested in replicating the Schoharie County ACEs Team and their educational events:
- Requiring large commitments for members can be a deterrent. Instead, allow people to come as they can and participate how they are able. Having a large group to add to the conversation and spread the word about ACEs and the team's efforts is beneficial.
- Making educational events free has been a draw for attendees. Whether through grants or donations, find an alternative way to cover the cost of speakers and advertising.
Additional tools and resources:
- The ACE Questionnaire is used by multiple organizations in Schoharie County.
- The ACEs Team uses ACE resources created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and handouts by the Community & Family Service Division for their materials.
- The ACEs Team distributes informational handouts at their conferences and trainings and promotional fliers for their events at local venues and on social media.
Abuse and violence
Children and youth
Community engagement and volunteerism
June 29, 2018
Date updated or reviewed
July 22, 2019
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2019. Schoharie County ACEs Team [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/1020 [Accessed 16 January 2021]
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