Building Thriving Communities Capitalizing on Evolving Science and Circumstances

This blog post was written by MCA’s MSW intern Jill Walker, who attended the conference earlier this month. 

Rita Furlow (MCA) and Julie Redding (ECCO) talk Social Emotional Learning & Development at the conference.

Earlier this month, the Maine Resiliency Building Network (MRBN) and The Bingham Program hosted their second biennial conference: Building Thriving Communities Capitalizing on Evolving Science and Circumstances. Educators, health service providers, public policy advocates and community leaders from across the state gathered to talk about addressing and preventing the lifelong impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Keynote speakers from Tennessee and Vermont discussed how they were able to effect positive policy change to better support children and families affected by ACEs.

While ACEs can have serious long-term consequences on a child’s health and well-being, there is still much that can be done to mitigate their influence and build healthy, thriving, and resilient children.


In her keynote address, Mary Rolando, Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services health advocacy director shared how Tennessee became the first state in the nation to launch a comprehensive and cultural shift in public policy based on the philosophy that preventing and mitigating adverse childhood experiences and their impact, is the most promising approach to helping children lead productive, healthy lives and ensure future prosperity of the state.

Leaders from Tennessee  in state government, the business world, advocates, insurers, academia and nonprofit foundations have organized into public and private sector steering groups to guide implementation and provide leadership at the state, regional and community level, which could guide Maine health and public policy advocacy.


Friday mornings keynote speaker, Vermont Representative George Till M.D., discussed his campaign to bring trauma-related research and awareness to Vermont legislators to change public policy through ACEs-related legislation — No. 43, H. 508. Till demonstrated how protecting young children from adversity is a cost-effective strategy to address many of the challenging social and health issues facing our communities including, low academic achievement, diminished economic productivity, criminality, substance abuse, mental illness, and physical health disparities.


In Maine, more than half of all children have experienced at least one ACE, and one in four children have experienced two or more ACEs – that’s slightly higher than the national average. As a result, these children are more likely to struggle in school, engage in risky behavior and experience poor health outcomes. In fact, it is also expensive. Dr. Till estimates that Maine spends $3.5 billion annually on outcomes related to ACEs. With strong, evidence-based programming designed to mitigate the impact devastating of these experiences, more Maine children can grow up to lead productive and successful lives.

This two-day event also included nineteen dynamic break-out sessions and opportunities to learn from Maine’s community leaders about innovative initiatives happening throughout state including topics and programs on social emotional learning and development, resilience, family and community partnerships and supports, integrating interventions in public education, restorative practices, creating a culture of hope, and mindfulness – to name a few.

For more information on the 2017 MRBN conference or to find out what is happening around the state please visit The Maine Resiliency Building Network.

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