By ED SALVAS
A network of community partners, parents, individuals, and organizations in Asbury Park are joining to address the effects of childhood trauma.
At a City Hall press conference, organizers introduced Dave Ellis, the state’s first Executive Director for the Office of Resilience within the Department of Children and Families, to run the program that’s being funded by a grant from the Nicholson Foundation. The initiative aims to spark a community-wide conversation to address the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs.
ACEs are stressful or traumatic events, including abuse, neglect, household substance use, and parental separation, which affect children’s brain architecture and have negative, lifelong effects on health and well-being. Some children also face exposure to toxic stress from historical and ongoing traumas due to systemic racism and the associated impacts of poverty resulting from disparate educational and economic opportunity.
During his visit to Asbury Park, Ellis met with Mayor John Moor and other officials and representatives of the business community. The visit was coordinated by Interfaith Neighbors and Garden State Equality.
Ellis told The Coaster their primary concern is for young children age three to age eight, although some may not display what he called signs of “Toxic Stress” until later in life.
A native of Minneapolis, Ellis was hired in June to run the Office of Resilience in the state Department of Children and Families. In a press release, the state called Ellis a national leader in providing training and facilitating conversations regarding toxic stress in the lives of young children and the lasting impacts of ACEs and generational trauma. He has worked with both families and organizations to prevent ACEs and advance research and survey efforts in Minneapolis. His prior experience in several Minnesota government initiatives also included facilitating community dialogues and public-private partnerships to promote well being.”
Ellis recently worked as a lead trainer and facilitator on Adverse Childhood Experience with the New Jersey Education Association.