Policy Resource

Wisconsin Home Visiting Programs Address Adverse Early Childhood Experiences

Feb 9, 2016

Wisconsin’s Family Foundations Home Visiting Program (FFHV) promotes and implements trauma-informed practices across its statewide network of home visiting programs. The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting grant provides the majority of FFHV funding.

Wisconsin early childhood leaders believe that the ACE survey can help home visitors empower parents and promote resilience in all children.

FFHV has used the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) framework to, among other things, routinely screen for trauma exposure and related symptoms. The Childhood Experiences Survey (CES), is an 11-question screening tool developed by the state’s evaluation team to measure Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) . It is used with all families enrolled in home visiting programs within the first 90 days of participation. As the tool was implemented statewide, additional strategies were developed in order to support more confident and competent administration of the tool. These strategies include specific and layered training for staff and supervisors on participant-centered screening and assessment practices, use of tip sheets and other materials, on-site coaching, webinars, and a one-day training for supervisors. FFHV believes that such strategies are consistent with trauma-informed principles while clarifying for staff how knowledge of a participant’s trauma history can enhance case planning and services.

In addition to using the CES, FFHV offers communities of practice that provide a regular venue for peer-to-peer support, and additional professional development opportunities for staff to more effectively support parents with significant trauma histories who are at risk for maternal depression or anxiety. The state is also building its reflective supervision capacity, linking infant mental health consultants to each home visiting program, and growing a cadre of mental health providers with the Wisconsin Alliance for Infant Mental Health Endorsement at Level III or IV. In addition, home visitors are engaged in reviewing program data and creating a plan for how the data can shape practice and lead to improved trauma-informed services.

Revised July 2020

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