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Harness NEAR Science for Developmental Resilience

The echoes of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and developmental adversity (DA) resonate across generations, shaping individual experiences and collective challenges. The landmark ACEs studies conducted by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente as well as the research based on the Philadelphia Expanded ACE Survey shone a spotlight on the widespread prevalence and indelible impacts of certain early life experiences. 


While these key learnings catalyzed significant action toward expanding what we know about and how we work together to address childhood trauma, a new, more holistic lens is emerging to illuminate the path towards supporting healing and resilience along the life course.

This lens, aptly named NEAR, converges leading-edge findings from the fields of Neuroscience, Epigenetics, ACEs, and Resilience science, offering a comprehensive framework for understanding how experiences of trauma and adversity contribute to our biological and psychological landscapes. By harnessing the power of NEAR, we can move beyond simply recognizing the impact of adversity, toward unlocking the potential for positive intergenerational change, rewriting the broader societal narrative from one of vulnerability to one of empowerment.

NEAR science supports a trauma-informed, healing-centered, resilience-building approach as it highlights the dynamic interplay between biological, environmental, and social factors in shaping individual and collective experiences and outcomes across the lifespan. The aim is to foster environments and systems that not only identify and respond to the impacts of trauma but also actively nurture paths to recovery and resilience. 


The emerging and evolving research about the human experience is clear: embedding individual-, community-, and system-level protective factors, supporting Protective and Compensatory Experiences (PACEs, sometimes colloquially referred to as Positive Childhood Experiences), and maximizing access to intrapersonal, interpersonal, and community-based factors that build capacity and resilience to navigate stress, challenge, and change are all vital parts of cultivating individual and collective prevention, healing, recovery, and growth.


This dimension of the vision calls for us to:

  • Establish within each state an “Office of Resilience” or similar entity to support ongoing research, standardize recommendations based on lessons learned and best practices, develop and share trauma-informed resources, and provide technical assistance to support organizations, communities, and systems of care in implementing supports for individual and collective resilience

  • Establish community centers offering free resources, information, referrals, and support for resilience building in trauma-impacted communities

  • Create protections against inappropriate ACEs screening practices, the misuse of ACE scores in clinical decision-making processes and individual-level care, and potential stigmatization/bias that can stem from mandating ACE screenings and the sharing of personal information regarding ACEs in databases without the proper training, privacy safeguards, or informed consent processes about how entities will utilize individual ACE scores

    • Implement specialized training programs for providers on trauma-informed and appropriate ACEs screening procedures and interpretation, focusing on ethical use and avoiding potential stigmatization

    • Establish standardized processes for primary healthcare providers who do screen for ACEs and trauma to refer people to trauma-responsive and trauma-specific services, ensuring seamless integration of care

  • Invest in and coordinate community-based education on PACEs, DA, NEAR, positive parenting practices, the buffering impact of connectedness and co-regulation, trauma-informed de-escalation and communication, and other relevant topics to build capacity and increase self-efficacy and empowerment to make health- and wellness-promoting choices among community members

    • Support pregnant people, caregivers, and families with implementing trauma-informed care, mindfulness practices, and attachment building strategies to support positive family environments for children to learn, develop, and thrive in

  • Define clear criteria for programs and services to qualify for public grant funding based on their adherence to trauma-informed, evidence-based practices

  • Adopt upstream solutions such as early intervention to address and mitigate the impacts of adversity that has already occurred as well as practices that can prevent individual and collective trauma/adversity from occurring

  • Fund programs that promote supportive relationships and enriching resources demonstrated to support Protective and Compensatory Experiences in settings that interface with children and younger people

    • Prioritize funding and access to early mental health interventions for infants and children to foster resilience from the outset

  • Invest in programs that boost executive functioning, self-regulation, and social-emotional learning in educational settings

  • Provide grants to support community-wide initiatives for holistic early childhood development, focusing on building capacity for individual and collective emotional, cognitive, and social growth

  • Enhance trauma-informed wraparound service referral processes among primary healthcare and pediatrician providers with the understanding that such settings are often the first line of detection for trauma and the need for additional child, family, and/or community support

  • Focus on rehabilitation, education, and family support rather than punishment for younger people who engage in behaviors rooted in trauma responses

  • Provide funding and create regulations to ensure physical environments, such as schools and healthcare facilities, are designed with trauma-informed principles to foster a supportive culture of safety, connectedness, belonging, and well-being

    • Implement predictable routines, clear communication, and access to developmentally- and linguistically-appropriate resources and supports

  • Fund and promote workforce development programs focused on expanding the number of professionals skilled in trauma-informed care

  • Increase funding for participatory action research on PACEs, trauma, and developmental adversity to discover new interventions and approaches

  • Integrate trauma-informed social-emotional learning and resilience building into age-appropriate education

  • Bolster access to paid leave for parents and caregivers at birth/adoption, as well as during times of significant family stress, challenge, or change to promote family empowerment in addressing issues in ways that fit for them

  • Increase reimbursement for trauma-informed, trauma-responsive, and trauma-specific interventions and practices and incentivize increasing access to trauma recovery in communities with complex needs to disrupt intergenerational cycles of violence, trauma, and adversity while increasing well-being across the lifespan

  • Develop and fund collaborative networks of government entities, organizations, experts, and people with lived experience of trauma and adversity from diverse communities to create statewide multi-generational support systems that promote positive childhood experiences and assists in the healing of primary and secondary trauma in adults

  • Implement economic supports that provide assistance to families affected by trauma, particularly after significant life or community events

  • Invest in arts and cultural programs as tools for community healing and expression

  • Require community- and school-based sports and recreation programs to adopt trauma-informed practices to receive public funding

  • Fund continued expansion of the evidence base of NEAR as well as interventions and practices that support holistic intergenerational well-being 

  • Provide trauma-informed parenting classes and resources for free in communities, particularly those that have been impacted by trauma or which have a high population of marginalized or disenfranchised groups

  • Develop public education campaigns to raise awareness about ACEs, developmental adversity, NEAR science, and effective trauma-informed, healing-centered, resilience-building, and community-led solutions

    • Increase awareness and education related to attachment science and the importance of the first three years of life in healthy development and producing positive outcomes/experiences across the lifespan

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