California’s Aces Aware Initiative Awards $30.8 million in grants

The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and the Office of the California Surgeon General announced Wednesday they are awarding $30.8 million in ACEs Aware grant funds to 35 organizations across the state.

Organizations will use these funds to build and strengthen trauma-informed networks of care. This will allow these networks to more effectively respond to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress to meet the needs of the community.


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“The science is clear: Without intervention, Adverse Childhood Experiences and the resulting toxic stress response can lead to lasting negative mental and physical health outcomes,” said California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris. “These grants will strengthen the capacity of our networks of care to support health care providers to effectively screen, treat, and heal patients with ACEs.”

The Surgeon General released a report on ACEs late last year. The report outlined response models that communities can tailor to address ACEs and toxic stress. The report also indicated a need for increased intervention in specific communities such as those that are racially marginalized, high school non-graduates, in lower income brackets, uninsured, involved in the justice system, women and LGBTQIA+ individuals.

The grants focus on the planning and implementation of the networks of care. The state awarded $7.9 million in planning grants to 7 counties to assist in their preparation of strategies to interrupt the toxic stress response. 

The state also awarded $22.9 million in implementation grants to 8 counties. These grants will allow the counties to develop pilot programs to test the effectiveness of health care, social services and community based organizations working together to create a screening, referral and treatment process to support families dealing with ACEs or toxic stress.

“This second round of ACEs Aware grants will significantly advance the Department’s work to support communities and Medi-Cal providers in addressing many of the complex health challenges facing California’s most vulnerable residents,” said Dr. Karen Mark, Medical Director of DHCS. “This funding recognizes the opportunity to reduce health disparities and inequities stemming from childhood adversity by building strong network of care teams across disciplines that are connected and trauma-informed.”

The grants focus on communities with high levels of ACEs and communities without existing ACEs response systems. These communities also demonstrated the highest level of readiness, both clinically and operationally, to engage with Medi-Cal providers to fully execute trauma informed networks of care.

A full list of grants and more information about the ACEs Aware grant program can be found here.