ACT California Cities 

Background

While California is home to many important innovative programs and services, there are still incredibly high poverty rates, and wide disparities in development indices. In addition, California's child health and development outcomes are displaying troubling trends, with: over 30% of adolescents reporting feelings of depression, the rate of mental health related hospitalizations for youth increasing 50% since 2007, and the rate of self-reported mental health needs among adolescents increasing by 61% since 2005. Many of these problems are related to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). 

ACEs are a fundamental contributor to many of California’s most urgent and costly social problems, including violence, poor academic performance, homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, depression and other mental illness, and chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. ACEs are so common and so toxic—and their causes so deeply woven into our social fabric—that their prevention and prompt intervention are recognized as top public health priorities. ACEs are compounded by the many barriers within poor neighborhoods and low-income communities that make it difficult to provide a safe and supportive environment for children to grow and develop.​

 

Responding to the documented and mounting threat of childhood trauma and neighborhood disadvantage on healthy development, the rapidly emerging All Children Thrive (ACT) movement offers a statewide strategic agenda to measurably and sustainably reduce the lifelong corrosive effects of childhood poverty and inequality. ACT’s whole child, equity-from the-start approach, strategically and comprehensively addresses mounting challenges by deploying evidence-based interventions, and using state-of-the-art data, design, and social innovation to spur rapid cross-site learning and change.

The Strategy

A statewide ACT California pilot project launched in 2019. Through hard work, advocates for children were able to obtain a $10 million allocation from the California legislature.  These funds are to be used by the California Department of Public Health working with the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families, and Communities (UCLA), Public Health Advocates (PHAdvocates), and Community Partners, along with many other local partner organizations to launch ACT/CA in pilot cities across the state. This three-year, equity-focused, community-driven initiative, takes a city-focused approach, supporting families through evidence-based programs and services that build community resilience, reduce adversity and trauma, and advance the conditions that allow all children to thrive.

ACT/CA will provide cities with the tools, policies, and practices that will enable them to address child poverty and related adversities, promote flourishing families, and ensure all children succeed, achieve their full potential, and thrive. ACT/CA will help transform cities into microenterprises of social innovation, not just solving their own problems, but also networking their contributions into statewide and national solutions to optimize the health, development and wellbeing of all children.

ACT has been designed by a team of national and international experts, incubated over five years in a number of cities across the country, and boldly addresses the troubling challenges facing California kids, nearly a quarter of whom live in poverty.  

© 2018 by the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities