N.E.A.R. Sciences

Our Learning Institute focuses on the bundle of key research and emerging science that teaches about the impact of adversity on health across the lifespan including Neuroscience, Epigenetics, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and Resilience (NEAR)

Community Context for Academic Achievement; A Report on Community Factors that Predict Resilience & Prevention in Nine Randomly Selected Communities in Washington

January 20, 2015
 

Executive Summary

The context for optimal human development includes healthy families, flourishing communities, and the events and systems that shape these. Community capacity is found to be significantly correlated with positive trends in the rates of child safety and school completion (Laverack, 2006; Hall, 2012). Community capacity is described as the empowerment of communities to come together, share responsibility for alleviating crises, improve services, and build healthy environments for families and children (Chatskin, 1999).
 
This study provides information about the community context for child and family life in Washington, including the degree to which systems of the community operate effectively as a whole to improve outcomes. Using information from Key Informants in nine Washington communities, we consider processes that communities use to develop a sense of belonging and shared identity, come together in celebration or problem solving, reflect on past efforts, agree upon and collaboratively generate solutions, and weave a stronger social fabric as a part of considering community capacity development. Key Informant interviews and community capacity scoring of those interviews are designed to provide insight into the community contextual environment and the capacities of that environment.
 
Qualitative data from key informants in nine randomly selected Washington communities are considered in this report. Processes and tools used for analysis of the interviews and rating of community capacities are consistent with those used in over a decade of systematic observations of community capacity in Washington State. This includes both capacity index scores (Longhi & Porter, 2009), and correlations between interview content and descriptions of characteristics of five distinct phases of community capacity building (Flaspohler et al., 2012).
 
Forty-seven interviews with Key Informants in nine Washington communities, reveal common themes, as well as, significant community variation in practices that help communities to flourish. Since the instruments to assess community capacity have been consistently used from 1998 through this 2014-15 interview process, community capacity trends over time are also considered. The names of persons interviewed and the names of the communities where interviews were conducted are not used in this report in order to preserve confidentiality and optimize reporting of most promising and most challenging community capacity building stories.

Connect To These Resources:

Community Context Report_1-20-15_final to Dr Blodgett.pdf

No School Alone: How community risks and assets contribute to school and youth success

No School Alone: How community risks and assets contribute to school and youth success (March, 2015)

Christopher Blodgett, Ph.D. Washington State University

Report prepared for the Washington State Office of Financial Management in response to the Legislature’s directions in Substitute House Bill 2739 

In this report, we test if the levels of the challenges resulting from Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in a community’s adult population contribute to current conditions of disruption in children that make ACEs a multigenerational problem. While the effects of poverty on school performance guide long-term and significant investment policies, ACEs is a comparatively new idea and until very recently has not been tested as a policy planning tool. Several hundred peer-reviewed research studies consistently support the role of ACEs as arguably the most powerful single predictor of health and well-being in adulthood. However, equivalent results in childhood emerged only in the past few years. Exposure to ACEs begins very early in life, resulting in risks to the developing brain. This additional exposure to stress leads to the emergence of physical and social mechanisms of No School Alone 4 coping that can interfere with development during childhood and compromise life success and health in adulthood.

Connect To These Resources:

No School Alone_ How community risks and assets contribute to school and youth success.pdf

Dr. Chris Blodgett presents "No School Alone: How community risks and assets contribute to school and youth success"

"No School Alone: How community risks and assets contribute to school and youth success" by Christopher Blodgett, Ph.D., Washington State University (March, 2015).

The full report may be found here: "No School Alone"

Key findings in this report include:

1. Adult ACEs are common in every Washington community, but they are not equally distributed. One of every four adults reports experiencing three or more ACEs. These adults with high ACEs are shown in the research to have increased risk of health and social problems.

2. ACEs are not distributed equally across Washington communities. Across school districts, adults reporting high ACEs range from an estimated 11–51 percent of community residents.

3. Poverty and ACEs are only modestly related. In high ACEs communities, high-poverty schools are more common but this co-occurrence is modest. Poverty is a powerful independent influence on academic, youth and community success distinct from the impact of ACEs which occur across all income levels.

4. More than 300,000 students in Washington live in communities where more than 35 percent of adults report high ACEs. As the average number of high ACEs in the community increases, the academic success and well-being of the children are put at risk.

5. As the percentage of high ACEs in a community increases, fewer students pass Washington’s standardized academic assessments. Schools in higher ACEs communities report mean percentage of students passing the assessments 2–6 percentage points lower than in communities with lower ACEs. This translates to thousands of students living in a high ACEs community failing on these critical assessments each year.

6. The effect of ACEs is demonstrated beginning in elementary school-aged children and continues across grade levels and content areas.

7. Rates of suspensions increase in high ACEs communities.

8. Poverty, but not ACEs, is highly predictive of rates of unexcused absences, graduation from high school and progression to postsecondary education.

9. Using youth self-report from the Healthy Youth Survey, community ACEs are highly associated with greater reported risks for attitudes, beliefs and behaviors, reflecting greater risk for immediate problem behaviors and continuation of these risks as youth transition into adulthood. Higher community ACEs are associated with low neighborhood attachment, more positive attitudes toward drug use and lower levels of the social skills needed to succeed in schools and adulthood.

10. The Healthy Youth Survey includes questions that allow youth to report on their own experience of adversity. As these ‘youth ACE’ scores increase in schools, we find that standardized test results in 10th grade are significantly lower, reported risk behaviors are significantly higher and access to social supports and positive peer and community influences are reduced. While poverty continues to be an influence on youth well-being, community and youth ACEs are more consistent predictors of youth well-being.

Addressing community and youth ACEs offers significant opportunities for investing in current strategies and exploring new opportunities. 

Laura Porter Keynote Address: NEAR Science & WA State Resilience Findings

Laura Porter explores Washington state data related to NEAR science & new Resilience factor findings.  

NEAR science is a cluster of science that stands for Neuroscience, Epigenetics, ACEs, and Resilience. This cluster gives us a more whole picture of the experiences over the lifecourse and over generations. 

Laura directs the Learning Institute for Foundation for Healthy Generations. She oversees analysis of ACE and resilience data from Washington youth and adults, and works with local and state leaders to embed developmental neuroscience and resilience findings into policy, practice and community norms.   Laura is an award winning public servant who is best known for directing systemic improvements to the child and family serving system in Washington. For 17 years Laura worked with Washington State officials and community and Tribal leaders to embed ACE Study and related neuroscience and resilience findings into policy, practice and community norms. Laura and her colleagues developed a unique model for improving the capacity of communities to deliver stunning results for a small investment. Communities using the model have documented reductions in the rates of seven major social problems and Adverse Childhood Experience scores among young adults.

Watch it here:

Laura Porter Keynote: NEAR Science & New WA State Resilience Factor Findings

Dr. Michael Ungar: Understanding Resilience in Schools & School Systems

Dr. Michael Ungar, Research Professor and Professor of Social Work at Dalhousie University (and one of the presenters at our 2014 Coalescing for Change conference), discusses a leadership strategy for building capacity to foster resilience. This presentation examines what resilience is and the principles that make resilience more likely to occur. 

Watch it here:

Resilience: Dr. M. Ungar -Understanding Resilience in Schools and School Systems

Connect here:

Understanding Resilience in Schools and School Systems

Addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences at Local Health Jurisdictions Webinar

In this one-hour webinar Laura Porter and Melanie Gillespie explain why ACEs are powerful drivers of health. They will reveal new data about the proven practices for building resilience against ACEs. Melanie and Laura will also share useful resources for taking action with local decision-makers and will discuss the ACEs Learning Institute, a new initiative to provide support for those who are addressing ACEs in their communities.

Connect here:

Addressing ACEs at Local Health Jurisdictions Webinar

ACEs Learning Institute "Hot Topics" Webinar

In this one-hour webinar Laura Porter and Melanie Gillespie explain why ACEs are powerful drivers of health. They will reveal new data about the proven practices for building resilience against ACEs. Melanie and Laura will also share useful resources for taking action with local decision-makers and will discuss the ACEs Learning Institute, a new initiative to provide support for those who are addressing ACEs in their communities.

Check it out here!

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