The Association Between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Intervention Participation in Early Childhood Education
Turner, Natalie Ann
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Exposure to early childhood trauma has been established as a marker of developmental risk over time (Briere & Spinazzola, 2009; Perry, 2008). The generational impact of trauma exposure and the relationship between parental trauma history and current risk to children of parents with trauma histories has also been well established (Elsevier, 2010; Franklin et al., 2010). Universal systems such as schools and early childhood education programs are positioned to uniquely respond to the needs of trauma-impacted children; however often times the caregivers of these children are impacted by their own trauma histories in such a way that they do not have the skills or capabilities to follow through with interventions that could benefit the family. Using data collected as part of the WSU AHEC Safe Start randomized control intervention study (funded by US Department of Justice beginning in 2011), this study examined the relationship between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and baseline assessment completion to receive supplemental family support interventions. It was predicted that as Caregiver ACE score increased, participation would decrease. Participants were families enrolled in Spokane County Head Start who had completed ACE screening and met eligibility criteria to participate in the Safe Start intervention study (n=627). Logistic regression analysis was used to assess the relationship between parent ACE score, Child ACE score, and completion of baseline assessment. Although child ACE score was used to determine eligibility to participate in the intervention study, the parent ACE score was associated with participation rates (B = 0.075, p = .029). Contrary to the initial hypothesis, as parent total ACE score increased, the likelihood of completing the baseline assessment for randomization into intervention groups also increased. Additionally, as caregiver report of their own experiences of ACEs in childhood increased, the ACE score of their children also increased (r = .273, p < .001). Increasing our understanding of the barriers to treatment participation will assist in helping professionals create the environmental context and conditions to support families in receiving needed intervention and supports, both to heal from their past trauma exposure and to provide their children skills to support resilience and recovery from current or future events.