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Exploring practitioner and policymaker perspectives on public health approaches to address Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in South Carolina

Srivastav, Aditi.; Spencer, Mindi.; Strompolis, Melissa.; Thrasher, James F.; Crouch, Elizabeth.; Palamaro-Munsell, Eylin.; Davis, Rachel E. – 2020

We examined the perspectives of child and family-serving professionals (CFSP) and state policymakers on protective factors to develop policy and program recommendations including current and needed approaches for addressing ACEs.

In 2018, we conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 23 CFSP and 24 state policymakers in South Carolina. Data were analyzed applying the Multiple Streams Theory using thematic analyses.

CFSPs and policymakers had varying opinions on state government involvement and primary prevention for ACEs. Three protective factors emerged from their perspectives: 1) loving, trusting, and nurturing relationships; 2) safe home environments; and 3) opportunities to thrive. For each of these protective factors, participants suggested policy options that support existing community efforts, attempt to alleviate poverty, and improve child and family serving systems.

This study suggests that CFSPs and policymakers recognize the importance of protective factors in a child’s life to buffer the effect of ACEs. More awareness is needed about the feasibility and significance of primary prevention of ACEs. The study’s findings can be used to strengthen advocacy priorities for a wide range of public health outcomes associated with ACEs and help further bridge the gap between research and policy.