Community Resilience Toolkit

According to the CDC, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity. ACEs are linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance use problems in adolescence and adulthood. ACEs can also negatively impact education, job opportunities, and earning potential. However, ACEs can be prevented.

  • ACEs are common. About 61% of adults surveyed across 25 states reported they had experienced at least one type of ACE before age 18, and nearly 1 in 6 reported they had experienced four or more types of ACEs.
  • Preventing ACEs could potentially reduce many health conditions. By preventing ACEs, up to 1.9 million heart disease cases and 21 million depression cases could have been potentially avoided.
  • Some children are at greater risk than others. Women and several racial/ethnic minority groups were at greater risk for experiencing four or more types of ACEs.
  • ACEs are costly. The economic and social costs to families, communities, and society totals hundreds of billions of dollars each year. A 10% reduction in ACEs in North America could equate to an annual savings of $56 billion.

ACEs can have lasting, negative effects on health, well-being, as well as life opportunities such as education and job potential. These experiences can increase the risks of injury, sexually transmitted infections, maternal and child health problems (including teen pregnancy, pregnancy complications, and fetal death), involvement in sex trafficking, and a wide range of chronic diseases and leading causes of death such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and suicide. ACEs and associated social determinants of health, such as living in under-resourced or racially segregated neighborhoods, frequently moving, and experiencing food insecurity, can cause toxic stress (extended or prolonged stress). Toxic stress from ACEs can negatively affect children’s brain development, immune systems, and stress response systems. These changes can affect children’s attention, decision making, and learning.

ACEs are preventable. In order to prevent ACEs, we must understand and address the factors that put people at risk for or protect them from violence. Creating and sustaining safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all children and families can prevent ACEs and help all children reach their full potential. The CDC has created a resource, Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): Leveraging the Best Available Evidence, to help communities use the best available evidence to prevent ACEs.

  1. Jessica Nye, MPH, CPH

    Community Health Services Manager

  2. Community Health Services

    Physical Address
    145 Rhone St.
    Friday Harbor, WA 98250

    Mailing Address
    P.O. Box 607
    Friday Harbor, WA 98250

    Fax: 360-378-7036

Preventing ACEs

Strategy Approach
Strengthen economic supports to families •    Strengthen household financial security
•    Family-friendly work policies
Promote social norms that protect against violence and adversity •    Public education campaigns
•    Legislative approaches to reduce corporal punishment
•    Bystander approaches
•    Men and boys as allies in prevention
Ensure a strong start for children •    Early childhood home visitation
•    High-quality child care
•    Preschool enrichment with family engagement
Teach skills
•    Social-emotional learning
•    Safe dating and healthy relationship skill programs
•    Parenting skills and family relationship approaches
Connect youth to caring adults and activities •    Mentoring programs
•    After-school programs
Intervene to lessen immediate and long-term harms •    Enhance primary care
•    Victim-centered services
•    Treatment to lessen the harms of ACEs
•    Treatment to prevent problem behavior and future involvement in violence
•    Family-centered treatment for substance use disorders

Raising awareness of ACEs can help:

•    Change how people thing about the causes of ACEs and who could help prevent them.

•    Shift the focus from individual responsibility to community solutions.

•    Reduce stigma around seeking help with parenting challenges or substance misuse, depression, or suicidal thoughts.

•    Promote safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments where children live, learn, and play.

Resilience can help to prevent or reduce the negative impacts of ACEs. Resilience is the ability to thrive, adapt and cope despite tough and stressful times. The more resilient a child is, the more likely they are to deal with negative situations in a healthy way that won’t have prolonged and unfavorable outcomes. Resilience is not an innate characteristic, but rather a skill that can be taught, learned, and practiced. Research has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary. It involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone. Everybody has the ability to become resilient when surrounded by the right environments and people.

ACEs can be prevented and resilience can help strengthen lives. Promoting social and emotional health is vitally important to both individual and population health. Experiencing stress, isolation, loss, or systemic social inequities is harmful to the health of Americans. Improving emotional well-being, social connectedness, and resiliency through research-based health promotion and prevention programs is critical. Learn more about preventing and responding to ACEs and practicing resilience in the San Juan County Community using this toolkit. Begin by educating yourself on ACEs, trauma impact, and resilience. Explore some self-care techniques to help practice resilience. Look at some of the family and parenting guides and/or explore some tips for service providers and organizations.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2022. Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences. Accessed 4/12/2022.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2021. Emotional Well-Being, Population Health. Accessed 4/12/2022.

  1. ACEs & Resilience
  2. Self-Care Practice
  3. Parent & Family Resources
  4. Resources for Organizations

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris on ACEs: This TED Talk gives a succinct overview of the ACEs Study and the long-term impact ACEs can have in one’s life.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) information and resources.

CDC’s Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): Leveraging the Best Available Evidence: Resource to help communities use the best available evidence to prevent ACEs

CDC Vitalsigns: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): Quick facts / reference sheet with ACEs information

ACEs Study Infographic: Quick, user-friendly access to the ACEs study findings and information on how ACEs affect our lives and society.

American Psychological Association—The Road to Resilience: Helpful overview of resilience and a guide to building and retaining resilience. 

National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Resources on culture and trauma in youth.

ACES Too High: Provides background information on ACEs, self-assessments, and ways to improve your resilience. Also has information and articles pertaining to the ACEs community.