Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are severe childhood traumas that can result in toxic stress, causing harm to a child’s brain. Children that experience trauma may have poor concentration, heightened aggression and anxiety. This toxic stress may make it difficult to learn, play healthily with other children, and can result in long-term health problems as adults. In response to the regional need in addressing ACEs, Michigan Health Improvement Alliance (MiHIA) with collaboration with our partners established the ACEs Strategy Map, a valuable regional resource. This strategy map contains information and plans that will assist in outlining which strategies our region will choose to advance and focus on. We have a great video that will walk you through the map and approach to developing the map. To learn more about the ACEs Strategy Map, it’s location, and objectives to support the long term strategic collaboration, click here.

In December, we gathered during the 5th Annual GLBR Symposium: Aligning & Connecting Expertise Regarding Trauma-Informed Work to launch Strategy Map. During the symposium, an esteemed collection of presenters took place in short, yet highly informative “lightning talks,” focusing on ACEs.

Mary Mueller, with the Michigan Department of Human Health- Public Health, shared the program Handle With Care, a collaboration between law enforcement, educators, and mental health professionals. Working together to support kids who have trauma exposure, the process works like this:

Information- Law enforcement collects the child’s name and school information when responding to a call in their home. They can transmit a notice to share with the school, making staff aware that the child should be treated with a “Handled With Care” approach. A data system helps make an informed direct contact with the school or intermediate school district.

Response- Shared with the child’s teaching team and support personnel to observe, support, and refer. Details of the incident will not be shared, but the information helps support a positive response for the child.

Intervention- Teaching team and support personal can link to mental health services within the building, bringing resources where the child has access to them. Primary stakeholders take interest and come together to talk through the steps to support the process.
Handle With Care improves a supportive learning environment to keep kids in school, helping them become productive citizens and flourishing adults. Funding is available for implementation training with an overall goal of positively impacting children and improving relationships across the community.

The second Lightning Talk of the day included remarks from Misty Janks from Our Community Listens, a national for-good organization working to build connections and better relationships. Through a three-day class and the power of empathetic engagement, they offer distinctive learning experiences that transform individuals and communities.

By using tools that encourage and enhance human connection, Our Community Listens is fostering a society where care and compassion rise above indifference and prejudice-person by person, community by community. Misty states that through their unique programming, behavioral change can happen more quickly. “We focus on trauma-informed connections, caring for people first, by giving people tools for true human connection. The truth is, hurt people continue to hurt people.” To learn more about the program, please visit:

Sarah Owens, the Resiliency in Students and Educators (RISE) coordinator from SVSU, spoke about their multidisciplinary training and coaching model designed to strengthen school-wide resiliency. RISE training addresses issues shared by local schools and guides understanding around the complexities of toxic stress and trauma exposure while providing strategies to improve outcomes. Through this program, participants will increase both knowledge and application techniques in supporting student and educator wellbeing, learning and growth, directly increasing academic scores, and decreasing behavior referrals and suspensions. Owens notes that “regulated teachers who are available to teach, and regulated students available to learn are not who we have in front of us any more… the people we are trying to serve has changed.”

Through teaching and coaching, Owens says their “Number one goal is to help schools be able to go back to the basic component of human connection…unless teacher wellbeing is held just as important as student wellbeing, nobody is going anywhere.” The rise Summit is happening on the campus of SVSU on March 19th and 20th. For more information, visit them online:

Furhut Janssen DO, FACN, is the Director of Behavioral Health, Psychiatry Residency Training Program, and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship for the CMU College of Medicine. She shared with the audience how CMU College of Medicine is bridging an access gap and a provider gap with two new child psychiatry fellows that will start community outpatient work in January. Through this new fellowship, it’s been discovered that medical students and residents may know more about trauma than currently practicing physicians, making an opportunity for new residents to be a vocal part of the care team. “They may see a mile-long medication list, and if they take the time to do a trauma history, they probably are going to find trauma and be able to educate.”

Future service delivery will focus on:

  • Staying trauma-informed with realistic expectations
  • Helping children and strengthening families
  • Building capacity for needed mental health services
  • Removing local service deployment
  • Improving mental health by using a collaborative approach

Join us on March 18th for a morning conference with Dr. Heather Forkey, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and The Joy McCann Professor for Women in Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, at the Horizons Conference Center in Saginaw. She will be focusing on Recognizing and Responding to Trauma with Clinical Tools to Promote Resilience

Medical providers and clinical partners practicing in health care settings recognize the pressing needs for professional education to address community priorities for treatment and prevention of child trauma and ACEs-related health and social challenges. Primary care providers and teams are not fully aware of how ACEs-related toxic stress and trauma lead to physical and emotional illness, how to put this science into practice, and/or how to share prevention strategies to help patients heal and build resilience. We will explore the pediatric medical provider’s role in identifying and supporting attachment and resilience in daily practice, strategies for the recognition of trauma symptoms, and practical tools to respond in the busy clinical setting.

The program is perfect for Family Medicine Physicians and Teams including: Pediatricians,
PA, Nurses, Psych, Counselors, Social Workers.

Learning Objectives:
• Define the 4 characteristics of a caregiving relationship necessary for healthy attachment
• Recognize the most common symptoms of trauma in children
• Identify seven resilience skills that should be supported in children
• Formulate a strategy to respond to children who present with trauma symptoms

Register Online at