Shaheen, Pappas Introduce Legislation to Launch Nationwide Adverse Childhood Experiences Response Team (ACERT) Programs Piloted in New Hampshire
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01) have introduced Senate and House versions of the National ACERT Grant Program Authorization Act, which would provide federal resources for communities to address adverse childhood experiences associated with exposure to trauma. By helping to establish programs that allow law enforcement and first responders to connect with local child specialists and professionals, resources from the legislation would facilitate early intervention to help mitigate the impacts of childhood trauma.
ACEs, or Adverse Childhood Experiences, are events in a child’s life that have a heavy impact on their future wellbeing, success in life and risk of violence. This legislation would allow for the creation of ACE Response Teams (ACERTs) which would provide services and care to children who have experienced trauma.
“Study after study has shown that repeated exposure to traumatic experiences can have devastating, long-term consequences on children’s physical, mental and emotional development, posing serious threats to their future success and wellbeing. With many Granite State families grappling with crises like the substance use disorder epidemic that often impart trauma on children, it’s essential that our first responders have the resources they need to invest in early intervention and keep our kids safe,” said Shaheen. “This legislation would establish a grant program to support the development and creation of critical, proven programs like ACERT in Manchester across the nation. Grant programs like this play an important role in empowering our communities with the tools they need to help break the cycle of trauma and ensure our children have healthy, successful futures.”
“Adverse childhood experiences can have lifelong impacts on children, and the economic and health impacts of the pandemic have only exacerbated the challenges New Hampshire’s kids are facing,” said Congressman Pappas. “That is why ACE response teams (ACERTs) are crucial tools for communities which bring together law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and first responders - who often are the first face a child sees after a traumatic experience – and partners them with local health providers and child advocates to help mitigate trauma and ensure our children not only overcome these experiences, but have bright futures and live full lives. I’m proud to join with Senator Shaheen in introducing this legislation, and I remain committed to working to build bipartisan support for this bill and take what has been developed right here in New Hampshire and share it at the national level.”
The legislation authorizes $10 million a year for four years for the Department of Justice (DOJ) & Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish a national ACERT program, modeled on the pilots here in New Hampshire.
The text of the legislation can be read here.
Shaheen has spearheaded legislation and funding to stem the opioid epidemic, including through her leadership on the pivotal Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies. In government funding legislation signed into law in 2020, Shaheen again included a key provision from the 2019 version of her legislation - Turn the Tide Act, which she has reintroduced this year - to provide flexibility for treatment providers to use State Opioid Response (SOR) grant dollars to help patients suffering from meth and cocaine dependency, in addition to opioid use disorders. Shaheen wrote the provision in response to discussions with New Hampshire treatment providers.