Jennifer Jones, director of child and family systems innovation for the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, and five other investigators with some of the nation’s leading child advocacy organizations, have authored a report that adds a new dimension to recent attention on the harmful effects of adverse childhood experiences.

Balancing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) with HOPE* presents evidence for HOPE—Health Outcomes of Positive Experiences, a framework that studies and promotes positive child and family well-being—based on newly-released data that reinforce the need to promote positive experiences for children and families to foster healthy childhood development despite the adversity common in so many families.

These new data:

  • Establish a spirit of hope and optimism and make the case that positive experiences have lasting impact on human development and functioning, without ignoring well-documented concerns related to toxic environments.
  • Demonstrate, through science, the powerful contribution of positive relationships and experiences to the development of healthy children and adults.
  • Describe actions related to current social norms regarding parenting practices, partic¬ularly those associated with healthy child development. These actions are based on data that suggest that American adults are willing to intervene personally to prevent child abuse and neglect.
  • Reflect upon the positive returns on investment that our society can expect as we make changes in policies, practices, and future research to support positive childhood environments that foster the healthy development of children.

Balancing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) with HOPE* contributes to a growing body of work—the Science of Thriving—that encourages us to better understand and support optimal child health and development.

To assist with getting the vast knowledge of positive childhood experiences into policies, practices, and systems to realize lasting change, investigators recommend in the report that efforts by pediatricians, early childhood educators, state and local governments move beyond screening and referral for problems, and enter into partnerships with parents to support them in raising their children.

Other recommendations include advancing a positive construct of health and the HOPE framework, and investing in science-aligned interventions that support positive parenting practices.