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Highland council ‘working to be aware of ACEs’

Glenfinnan Viaduct, Highlands - credit Gina Collecchia

Highland council ‘working to be aware of ACEs’

Highland council is training its staff on the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in an attempt to move to a more preventative approach to children’s services.

Unlike other parts of Scotland, Highland’s approach to health and social care integration means the council runs child health and care services as well as social work, and it has said it wants to become an “ACE-aware” local authority.

ACEs are stressful or traumatic experiences in the early years which growing evidence shows have a long-term impact on lifetime health, wellbeing and outcomes.

Research also suggests incidents in the first 1,000 days of a person’s life have a big impact, while there are other critical periods when a person’s development can be strongly affected, such as early adolescence.

Highland councillor John Finlayson, chair of the Care, Learning and Housing Committee said: “Building children’s resilience to stressors through positive relationships and the environment in which children grow and develop is at the root of all our services, supported by the Getting it Right for Every Child policy and multi-agency working. 

“Everyone has a role to play in helping to prevent and mitigate the effects of childhood adversity.”

Highland council introduced staff to the film ‘Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope’, which has had a high profile nationally.

The film has also been shown to a new cross-party group of MSPs, established in the summer.

The group’s convener Gail Ross, who represents Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, encouraged every MSP to contact schools in their area to find out if they were discussing ACEs.

“I would be grateful for any information you can give us on how your schools are dealing with young people that have been exposed to trauma, how they are ensuring their staff and teachers are trained in dealing with trauma and any future plans to expand their facilities or training,” she said.

On Monday First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the UN convention on the rights of the child (UNCRC) will be incorporated into Scots Law.

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