SaintA Leads Wisconsin Discussion on Adverse Childhood Experiences

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are “one of, if not the leading, determinant of the health and social well-being of our nation,” according to Robert Anda, the co-principal investigator for the ACE Study.

Sara Daniel
Sara Daniel

ACEs have been shown to have a strong influence on smoking, alcohol abuse, illicit drug use, sexual behavior, mental health, homelessness, workforce performance. They also increase the risk of heart, lung and liver disease, suicide, and HIV and STDs, among others.

And childhood adversity is common. Over 60% of people have experienced at least one ACE of the 10 types listed in the study, including household dysfunction, abuse or neglect. A total of 26% have experienced three or more ACEs. Higher ACE scores are correlated with a greater risk for health and social problems. For more information, see:

So what’s the good news? Well, according to Dr. Anda, “if we can predict it, we can prevent it.” SaintA has taken a lead role in statewide efforts to do so.

This spring, we co-hosted the first-ever ACE Interface event, along with the Wisconsin Children’s Trust Fund. With the help of funding from the St. Aemilian-Lakeside foundation, we brought Dr. Anda to town along with Laura Porter, the co-founder of ACE Interface, LLC. Laura has more than 10 years of experience leading a successful statewide implementation of ACE concepts into practice in the state of Washington.

The event brought together more than 30 people from a variety of agencies and organizations across the state with the single goal of becoming master trainers in the ACE Interface curriculum. The idea is that these trainers can then spread the word about the impact of ACEs and encourage awareness of this important information.

Our partner organizations with at least one staff member trained in ACE Interface include Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the Malaika Early Learning Center, the Menominee Indian Tribe, Northwest Passage, Waupaca County, the Waukesha Department of Health and Human Services, the Wisconsin Children’s Trust Fund, Wisconsin Family Ties, the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and the Wisconsin Departments of Corrections, Children and Families, and Health Services. Each of these organizations has agreed to hold ACEs trainings.

SaintA holds the sole license in Wisconsin for the ACE Interface curriculum and has taken on the responsibility of coordinating and managing the statewide training group. Trainers report completed trainings monthly to SaintA, and we then facilitate targeted outreach to more community groups we feel would benefit from the ACE Interface information. Our goal is to reach well beyond social services into all segments of society, including education, faith communities, law enforcement, business, etc. We are hopeful that these trainings inspire conversations and create momentum within various groups and communities so that whoever they reach gains the capability to become self-healing.

During the training something that Laura said sticks with me: “What if we made all decisions based on whether they would reduce the compounding of ACEs for this generation and reduce ACEs in the next generation?”

It makes me hopeful to think of what we would be capable of if everyone, from business leaders, to policy makers and members of the local PTA, had this information in the forefront of their awareness.

If you would like to bring ACE Interface to your group, please contact

Interested in learning more about trauma informed care? Attend a community training session.


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