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Advancing a Plan for Addressing Trauma and Building Resilience within L.A. County Systems

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Center for Collective Wisdom Releases Extensive Report Outlining Research and Recommendations

First 5 LA, the California Community Foundation, The California Endowment, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation along with other local, state and nationally-recognized expert organizations today released a report to advance a comprehensive trauma and resiliency-informed approach in Los Angeles County.

Building on research and the experience of experts from Los Angeles, the report defines trauma as the effects of a single event, a series of events, and/or ongoing circumstances that are experienced or perceived as physically or emotionally harmful and/or life threatening. Trauma can affect individuals, families, and communities immediately and over time, even generations. The adverse effects of trauma can be profound and long-lasting, resulting in diminished functioning and wellbeing, including mental, physical, social, emotional, and/or spiritual wellbeing.

“Trauma is a serious health concern affecting many children and families,” said First 5 LA Executive Director, Kim Belshé. “In California, 35% of children prenatal to age 5 have experienced at least one traumatic event. Implementing a compassionate, trauma and resiliency-informed approach can help prevent, and potentially reverse, the harmful and lasting impact trauma and adverse life experiences can have on our children, families, and communities.”

To address this concern and the results of the recent study, First 5 LA and its partners are calling for a commitment within organizations and systems to help individuals, families, and communities both heal from trauma and strengthen their resiliency, to become trauma and resiliency-informed.

“This is an important change effort that will benefit children and families impacted by the harmful effects of trauma,” said Antonia Hernández, President and CEO at the California Community Foundation. “It’s time we come together as a community to form a shared vision and approach that will bring children and families hope and resiliency.”

The Center for Collective Wisdom (C4CW) was chosen as the organization to help design and facilitate the first exploratory phase of this effort. C4CW has a long history of designing and leading successful large-scale change efforts in Los Angeles County and communities across the country. Their work on this initiative included conducting an extensive environmental scan of current research and trauma-informed systems change efforts from across the country. C4CW also designed and facilitated the workgroup process that generated the recommendations for strategies to advance this work across L.A. County.

Among the many historical influences that have given rise to a movement focused on trauma and resiliency, the 1998 Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study[1] has been particularly significant in building a broader conversation about trauma and the need to more systematically address its negative effects. This study examined the impact on health and wellbeing across a person’s life from childhood abuse, neglect and other adverse experiences. The import of this study was not simply the high prevalence of ACEs documented among the 17,000 participants, all of whom had health insurance and had received physical exams. The study unexpectedly revealed a significant correlation: the higher the number of ACEs, the higher the risk for a wide range of negative health outcomes.

As compelling as the ACEs research is, it understates the impact of trauma on the health and wellbeing of individuals, families, and communities. There are far more sources of trauma than the original ten ACEs, including:

  • Physical, psychological, and sexual abuse experienced after childhood;
  • Community violence;
  • Homelessness;
  • Natural disasters;
  • Refugee and war zone trauma;
  • Terrorism;
  • Oppression, including structural oppression; and
  • Multi-generational or historical trauma.


“The California Endowment and our partners are recognizing that unhealed trauma is a root cause of many of the challenges faced by the families and communities we serve,” said Dr. Robert K. Ross, president and CEO of The California Endowment. “By helping systems become more intentional and effective in addressing trauma and promoting resiliency, we believe we can make a significant impact on the wellbeing of our children and their families and communities.”

While the impact of trauma can be profound, research also shows that organizations and systems can have a significant positive impact when they help the children and families they serve recognize and heal from the impacts of trauma and become more resilient. The research further demonstrates how important it is for organizations to recognize the signs of vicarious and secondary trauma among staff, and to make a sustained commitment to helping staff heal and become more resilient as well.

“Our team is proud to be part of this critical effort to better serve children and families affected by adverse life experiences,” said Wendy Garen, president and CEO of The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation. “We look forward to working with our partners to create authentic, sustainable systems change across our entire county.”

“We are pleased to be partnering with our colleagues on this important initiative,” said Peter Laugharn, president and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. “This effort to address the impact of trauma on children, adolescents, and adults will bring our systems together with an important shared vision of resiliency and hope.

The county-wide public-private partnership has entered into the next phase of its work.   Using the final report recommendations as a guide, the funders and county-wide partners will begin to plan and advance specific activities to create a trauma and resiliency informed Los Angeles County.  For more information and to access the report, please visit





First 5 LA is a leading public grant maker and early childhood advocate organization created by California voters to invest Proposition 10 tobacco tax revenues in Los Angeles County. In partnership with others, First 5 LA strengthens families, communities, and systems of services and supports so that all children in L.A. County enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life. Please visit for more information.



The California Community Foundation is committed to improving the quality of life for all Los Angeles County residents by addressing the root causes of the county’s most urgent problems. The foundation has served as a public, charitable organization since 1915. For more information, please visit



The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental affordable improvements in the health status of all Californians. The Endowment challenges the conventional wisdom that medical settings and individual choices are solely responsible for people's health. Through its ‘Health Happens Here’ campaign and ten-year initiative Building Healthy Communities, The Endowment is creating places where children are healthy, safe and ready to learn. At its core, The Endowment believes that health happens in neighborhoods, schools, and with prevention. For more information, visit The California Endowment’s website at



The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation is a private foundation and awards approximately $20 million annually in grants to Los Angeles County based not-for-profits. Please visit for more information.



The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by international business pioneer Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help the world’s disadvantaged and vulnerable people. The Foundation currently conducts strategic initiatives in six priority areas: providing safe water, ending chronic homelessness, preventing substance use, helping children affected by HIV and AIDS, supporting transition-age youth in foster care, and extending Conrad Hilton’s support for the work of Catholic Sisters. In addition, following selection by an independent international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $2 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to a nonprofit organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. In 2015, the Humanitarian Prize was awarded to Landesa, a Seattle-based land rights organization. From its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.4 billion in grants, distributing $107 million in the U.S. and around the world in 2015. The Foundation’s current assets are approximately $2.5 billion. For more information, please visit


[1]   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.