Happy summer!  We hope you’re planning to attend today’s ACEs Workgroup meeting from 1 to 2 p.m. at AFMC. Frank Vega, LMFT, will present “Trauma Informed Care versus Trauma Specific Treatment: How ACEs Can Help.” Frank is a licensed marriage and family therapist who has worked in the behavioral health field for 30 years. He serves as the director of behavioral health for ARcare, a federally qualified health center (FQHC) serving 13 counties with more than 40 locations in Arkansas, five clinics covering eight counties in Kentucky and one clinic in Mississippi. Before coming to Arkansas, Frank spent most of his career working with children in the foster care systems in Texas and Arizona and served as the children’s mental health director for the State of Texas. Understanding the impact that trauma plays in the lives of children, adolescents and adults is one of his areas of interest and plays a major role in his treatment approach.

I have a few other updates for you …

I would like to introduce you to our new manager of AFMC’s ACEs team, Kaila Hall. Kaila was appointed manager of the Public Affairs department and the PASSE and the Arkansas Insurance Department helplines. She is a graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi where she earned her Master of Science degree in child and family studies. For the past seven years, Kaila has worked with children and families including assisting families during their child’s hospital stay at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and managing a family engagement program at AFMC to help keep children out of foster care. Amelia Elam, director of AFMC’s Outreach Policy and Education, and Hanna Windley will provide leadership and support.

The 2019 Arkansas Adverse Childhood Experiences and Resilience Summit plans are underway. After a standing room only crowd at last year’s event, we’ll convene at The Vines Center this year. A lineup of outstanding speakers is confirmed. We’re offering sponsorship opportunities and will open registration soon. Be sure to save the dates: The Summit is scheduled for Thursday and Friday, Sept. 26-27 at The Vines Center, with Resilience and Provider Workshops on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church in Little Rock.

We’re excited about the ACEs Workgroup’s accomplishments since the group formed two years ago. This collaborative effort brought together many dedicated people who care about ACEs awareness and resilience, representing more than 150 organizations. We’ve had two well-attended summits, multiple presentations by workshop members who are experts in their field, and a successful legislative reception honoring our First Lady, Susan Hutchinson.

As our work matures, we’re continuing to spread awareness about ACEs, adding an emphasis on building resilience in our communities. We appreciate your dedication and welcome your involvement and suggestions. You will be invited to participate in a survey soon seeking input in your areas of interest and asking about your workgroup meeting time and day preference.

As a result of our ACEs work, AFMC is leading several exciting initiatives with the state and federal governments. Our organization, along with collaborators ARcare, the state’s largest Federally Qualified Health Center and community health center, and the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine, was awarded a grant from HRSA for primary care training and enhancement. We have established an academic community partnership to train Arkansas physicians and physician assistants to champion and implement trauma-informed care approaches. We plan to provide learning opportunities for 20 Arkansas providers (five each year over the grant period).

AFMC remains committed to continue to be Arkansas’s ACEs backbone organization. We believe we should practice what we are educating so we are taking necessary steps to become a trauma-informed organization.  We recently partnered with the Community Resilience Initiative based in Walla Walla, Wash., for intensive staff training.

We always have an eye out for new grants for partner opportunities with workgroup members. We take our responsibility as a backbone organization seriously and will continue to identify funding opportunities, engage our workgroup partners in collaborative efforts, and provide organizational support to the workgroup.

Chad T. Rodgers, MD, FAAP, is chief medical officer for AFMC and a Little Rock pediatrician.