ACEs Aware

``ACEs are not destiny!``

Adversity experienced in early life can negatively impact a child’s development and increase their risk for serious health conditions later in life. Screening for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) allows for early detection of toxic stress and hence, early intervention.

An ACEs Update

Under the guidance of California’s Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris and the ACEs Aware Initiative, the national ACE Resource Network has launched a campaign The Story of Your Number. This campaign was established to increase awareness and understanding of ACEs and its relation to toxic stress. By helping us understand our ACE history through categories of abuse, neglect and household challenges, Number Story hopes to provide insight and education, promote healing and prevention, and to disrupt the transmission of ACEs down to future generations. They are here to remind us that we are not defined by our number and no one’s experience is the same, but together we can empower individuals and communities nationwide to change their story and create positive and healthy outcomes for themselves and their future.

To learn more about the Number Story campaign, head to

What Is A Number Story?

The Beginning

The Statewide ACEs Aware initiative

Championed by the Surgeon General’s Office and the Department of Health Care Services, the statewide ACEs Aware initiative was launched in 2019 in California with the ambitious goal to reduce ACEs by half in one generation.

As San Diego grantees, the Social Policy Institute has partnered with the Academy of Pediatrics Chapter 3 (AAP-CA3) to provide opportunities for pediatric providers, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders, to come together as regional Networks of Care, laying a foundation for mutual understanding and trust, and build effective working relationships.

ACEs are very common. In fact, here is what the situation looks like in California.

What Changed

SPI’s efforts are multipronged; in addition to building and facilitating the Network of Care sessions across San Diego county, the SPI team works to increase ACEs Awareness through strategic communications, in close collaboration with our partners at the YMCA of San Diego and the AAP-CA3. We focus on trauma-informed family engagement and ACEs screening awareness, providing targeted and practical materials and tools for providers to help build protective factors that can buffer the effects of toxic stress resulting from traumatic experiences.

In The End

SPI has been working on this initiative since July 2020 and is actively involved with all other ACEs Aware partners in San Diego and Imperial County. Our main goal is to raise awareness of ACEs in San Diego county and to create sustainable regional networks of care that will create positive impact for children and families.

“The ACEs Aware Campaign launched in California exemplifies a prevention model. The developing regional Networks of Care in San Diego, led by the Social Policy Institute and the AAP-CA3, focus on family-centric opportunities and healing-centered resources for families during the well-child visits at the Pediatrician’s office. It is profoundly uplifting to participate in San Diego’s ACEs Aware network convenings with the Pediatricians and service providers engaging, real-time, on behalf of families’ needs. You can feel the threads of intentional connectivity evolving with the bridging of trauma-informed services providers and agencies engaging with the Pediatricians. A paradigm shift, healing-centered collective impact is gaining traction throughout California.”

Dana Brown, Organizational Liaison, ACEs Connection

For more information about Network of Care, contact Angelica Oberleithner via email:

Social Policy Institute


SPI's Executive Leadership brings subject matter expertise in their respective fields as well as a combined track record for innovation and quality.

Steve Hornberger

Steve Hornberger is the Co-Director of the Social Policy Institute (SPI) since 2014 administering a number of statewide contracts.

Lori Clarke

As Co-Director, Lori brings innovation and excellence to design/development and facilitation of insight and action.

Stories of Success

What Our Partners Say

Elizabeth Estes

“The Social Policy Institute’s Director, Steve Hornberger, has been an integral part of Breaking Barriers development and implementation. The Social Policy Institute team has brought excellence and innovation to support Breaking Barriers’ work across systems to increase and enhance the well-being of California’s children and youth.”

Elizabeth Estes

Founder, Breaking Barriers
Robin Jenkins

“San Diego State University’s Social Policy Institute has been a highly valued partner for the State of California and an array of organizations seeking to effectively translate evidence-supported science into well-designed public policies for broad social benefits. One example is through our National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives and SDSU collaborations. As well, SPI’s work with county-level Prevention teams and their articulation of best practices with and for Child Abuse Prevention Councils across the state of California has been impressive.”

Robin Jenkins

Associate Director, The Impact Center, University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill
Dr. Rachelle Benson

“The entire team at the Social Policy Institute brought subject matter expertise and cultural humility to the revision and redesign of our Faith-based and Behavioral Health Training Academy! Our trainers appreciated the validation for what they already know and can do; coaching to raise their game to a higher level of performance; and the high-quality, evidence-based materials.”

Dr. Rachelle Benson

Vice President, Stepping Higher Inc.

ACEs Aware Posts & Resources

Access the Social Policy Institute Blog to learn more.
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