SFWA Summer Newsletter

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SFWA Summer Newsletter

In This Issue:


Resiliency Overcomes ACEs

Surviving through a global pandemic has shaken many of us to the core and the ongoing concern and question is how will this affect our children and most importantly, what can we do?

Current trends in literature and research have shown that children and youth are and have been greatly affected by isolation, lack of social connection, physical distancing, and inability to mentally cope with very complex feelings and experiences. While the antidote is to rely heavily on caregivers to be responsible for supporting children and youth, what happens when adults are just as affected by the situation? One might wonder, complex situations require complex answers, right? The answer to this may not be as complex as you think. Rather than thinking how we weather this storm for our kids, the answer may be how we weather this storm together.

SFWA Resources

Children's Trust of Washington Fact Sheet

Home Visiting Services by County

COVID-19 Parent Guide

Strengthening Families Washington Coloring Book: download and print, or email Strengthening Families Washington for a mailed copy

Contact SFWA

Email | Website

Brochures and Publications

Speak Up When You’re Down: Postpartum Depression

Have a Plan: Shaken Baby Syndrome

Infant Safe Sleep: Safe Sleep for your Baby

Indigenous Children, Youth, and Families (ICYF) Conference

Join us Aug. 10-12 for our Second Annual Virtual ICYF conference. ICYF is a unique opportunity to gather with DCYF staff, child welfare professionals, caregivers, tribal staff, alumni, parents, and youth to discuss our common thread of children, youth, and families.

For decades, early childhood literature places a heavy emphasis on shifting the mindset to be trauma-informed. Meaning that children who experience a variety of complex trauma throughout a lifetime can have serious impacts on health - both physical and emotional. This prolonged exposure to trauma can have a negative impact leading to things such as high-risk behaviors, substance use, mental health challenges, and poor health outcomes resulting in early death.

According to the original study of ACEs conducted by Kaiser Permanente from 1995-97, a homogenous group of people were studied and found that of the 10 identified ACEs, children and families who experiences ACEs of four or more resulted in:

  • 10-12x greater risk for intravenous drug use and attempted suicide
  • 2–3x greater risk for developing heart disease and cancer
  • 32x more likely to have learning and behavioral problems
  • 8 out of 10 leading cause of death in the U.S. correlate with exposure to four or more ACEs

What came after the study was what truly shifted our newly trauma-informed minds into adapting trauma-informed care and practice. These new mindsets leads us to this point: how did we survive then and how do we survive now?

The truth is, none of us have really been able to survive without each other since the earliest days of first Indigenous civilizations. Disease and famine have never been foreign or new to our species. One of the greatest fallacies of our society has been that human beings are capable of being resilient on their own. Our society prioritizes and celebrates individualism and independence to the default that we adopted this mindset as what defines resiliency. The age old rhetoric of “pulling up by your bootstraps.”

But that simply is not true. Human beings, as well as most animals, were not birthed fully independent. In fact, several factors had to align to ensure our survival: climate, food, water, shelter, and nurture. Humans are advanced species that heavily rely on relationships to thrive and survive. We know this to be true about early infant and childhood connections with safe, loving, nurturing, and attuned caregivers. What if we continued to shift mindsets and rather than focus on the trauma, we focused on the resilience in the form of relationships.

Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs) do exactly this. Research has found that with the presence of PCEs, the impact of ACEs is lessened although not forgotten or made not to influence the child in their adult life. The findings help underscore that PCEs can mitigate the effects of ACEs. Click here to read what the seven PCEs are. Other notable articles to read are:

  1. Positive Childhood Experiences, from the Pinetree Institute
  2. Positive Childhood Experiences, Resiliency, and Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, from the CPTSD Foundation

While this concept is not new, it’s the ability to shift the mind from a deficient mindset (i.e., focusing on the trauma and trauma effects), to a strength-based mindset by focusing on the relationships and connections. 

As we engage and cultivate lifelong friendships with our families and communities, there may be times we unearth moments that need some extra TLC. Rather than immediately seeing a problem/gap/deficiency, continue practicing the mind to see an opportunity, a gift, and/or expressing gratitude. After all, as we weather harsh waters, it’s much easier to pitch a sail with friend, than to do it alone.

New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Resource


A new CDC infographic shows the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and how preventing ACEs can help create neighborhoods and communities where every child thrives.

This infographic showcases data from the CDC-Kaiser Permanente ACE Study and recent findings to address the following questions:

  • What are ACEs?
  • How common are ACEs?
  • How do ACEs affect our lives?
  • How do ACEs affect our society?
  • What can be done about ACEs?

ACEs are potentially traumatic events in childhood (0-17 years), such as neglect and experiencing or witnessing violence. However, types of early adversity can be stopped before they start.

Safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments have a positive impact in creating positive childhood experiences. Their benefits can last a lifetime. View the full infographic with additional information here.

Family Resource Center Landscape Report

DCYF will release a Family Resource Center (FRC) Landscape Report in late summer. In February, DCYF contracted with a team of researchers to gather and summarize data to describe the approaches, availability, services, supports, stability, and capacity of FRCs in Washington State to better understand their potential role in efforts to prevent child maltreatment. Guided by the definition of FRCs included in HB1237 that passed in March 2021, the team conducted outreach to identify organizations in Washington meeting the criteria of that definition, invited them to complete a survey, and conducted several key informant interviews to illustrate particular issues. A total of 84 organizations responded to the survey. Preliminary results show that:   

  • There are likely more organizations in the state that meet or are close to meeting the definitional criteria of an FRC, but may not currently define themselves that way.
  • Among survey respondents there is strong interest in connections with peer organizations and other opportunities for organizational capacity development and collective impact.
  • FRC organizations stepped up respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, with about one-third of respondents indicating that during the pandemic their FRC increased the number of adults served, and nearly all FRCs reporting that they added new events, adapted their services for online delivery and increased their offerings of concrete supports.   

The research team is currently compiling all of the data and is working with DCYF to plan ways to share the results with all of our statewide partners. Watch for upcoming announcements for the opportunity to see what we are learning through this study.

Parent Advisory Group Update

On May 6, 2021, DCYF opened recruitment for the Parent Advisory Group (PAG). This group consists of parents and caregivers of children that provide a sounding board for decisions, ideas, and questions that shape the future of DCYF. The recruitment was open for three weeks, and in that time, we received 40 applications. After a panel review process, 18 new members were selected, with their official appointment beginning July 1, 2021.

This year, the agency expanded PAG by doubling its membership, beginning the necessary process of increasing the integration of voices with lived experience in DCYF’s system. Increasing the racial and geographical diversity of PAG was identified as a priority outcome, and we are happy to report that we met this goal.

PAG held its first meeting with new members on July 16, 2021, where everyone had the opportunity to get to know each other and learn about their new roles as advisors to a state agency.

Learn more about PAG on the DCYF website.

Watch Help Me Grow WA 101

The new Help Me Grow Washington 101 video is an introduction into who Help Me Grow is and how they organize their work. This is a great resource for those looking to learn more about and get involved with Help Me Grow Washington, and we encourage you share it with the families and communities you serve. To watch the video, please visit the Help Me Grow WA website.

Fair Start for Kids Act Webpage

DCYF recently launched a webpage dedicated to the Fair Start for Kids Act. High-quality child care and early learning are critical to a child’s success in school and life. With the passage of the Fair Start for Kids Act (SB 5237) on May 7, 2021, lawmakers provided an opportunity to make child care more accessible and affordable for all families in Washington State. The page will contain all information about Act implementation, including:

  • Working Connections Child Care and Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) changes for families
  • How the Act is supporting child care and early learning providers
  • Expanded resources and innovations for child care licensing
  • Prenatal to age three supports for families and providers
  • Data and accountability measures that DCYF reports on over the years

This webpage will be updated frequently as the agency moves through implementation. Questions can be sent to dcyf.fairstart@dcyf.wa.gov.

Child Abuse Prevention

This past April, we again participated in the National Child Abuse Prevention Month campaign. We are interested in hearing feedback from how you felt this year's campaign went to better plan for next year's. If you are able to fill out this short survey, we would greatly appreciate it.

Our national partner, Prevent Child Abuse America, has also created a toolkit for back to school, as we work to create great childhoods for all children, year round. You can access that toolkit here.


CBCAP Funding Opportunities

Over the coming months, there will be a number of funding opportunities that will be supported through the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) program. Please watch your email for communications specific to funding opportunities

Rental Assistance Tool

Knowing that instability in housing can be a reason for families to struggle and even to have children enter foster care, the White House is sharing a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) “Rental Assistance Finder” tool that program staff and members of communities can use to learn about emergency rental assistance available to tenants and landlords. We thought it might be of value to you, your colleagues and the programs you fund.

The tool is now live at https://www.consumerfinance.gov/renthelp.

Summer Ideas

PBS Summer of Possibilities: PBS put together a list of games and activities to promote healthy development over the summer. Take a look for ideas that your family can incorporate into your summer plans.

Creative Ways Parents Can Increase Their Child's Language Skills at Home: The pandemic has parents and caregivers concerned about language skills. Here are some ideas to get creative and increase a child’s language skills at home.