According to the CDC, ​adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood. ACEs can include things such as experiencing abuse, neglect, or violence; growing up with a parent who has a substance use disorder; or living in an unstable household due to parental separation, divorce, or incarceration. These experiences can cause toxic stress which, when left unchecked, can change brain development and affect things such as attention, decision making, learning, and our response to stress.

ACEs are incredibly common among adults in the United States--61% of adults surveyed across 25 different states reported having experienced at least one ACE. They are linked to chronic health conditions, mental illness, and adult substance abuse problems. While ACEs have a costly effect on our society, they are preventable. By taking comprehensive action we can create safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for children and their families to reach their full potential in.