Unaddressed Childhood Trauma Limits Community Health Gains
The Los Angeles County neighborhoods surrounding LAC+USC Medical Center—Boyle Heights, East LA, Northeast LA, El Sereno and City Terrace—are home to thousands of Latinx families and communities of color. Due to institutional racism and limited economic opportunities, many of these families have experienced recurring cycles of trauma, which were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, these factors have had a major impact on the health and well-being of young children (0-5), and pregnant women and their families, all of whom need a welcoming entry point to services but instead face a disconnected, siloed system of care and support. Residents are often unable to receive the medical care and social support they need. Meanwhile, providers struggle to address resident’s social needs with limited resources.
Establishing a ‘Healthy Village’
Since 2017, organizers have mobilized 40 founding members to set priorities, engage residents through community listening sessions, propose policy changes, provide a hub for social services and implement a broad toolbox to address topics that are not traditionally considered health care yet have a significant impact on health and health outcomes. HICP delivers community benefits in line with their theory of change: the right for all, particularly the youngest community members, to live in a “Healthy Village.” This concept highlights seven priority areas of a healthy community identified by Boyle Heights residents themselves: Community Stability, Opportunity, Economic Development, Transportation, Environmental Justice, Safety, and Health and Wellness.
ACH IN ACTION
Engage Residents and Coordinate Services Around Trauma
To transform the system and build a coordinated community that could more effectively mobilize its limited resources around health, community leaders—including County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis and her First District team—launched the Health Innovation Community Partnership (HICP), adopting the Accountable Communities for Health (ACH) model. The LAC+USC Medical Center Foundation serves as HICP’s backbone organization, providing funding, staffing and technical support. After launching, HICP convened a CACHI-funded workgroup, featuring more than 20 experts, as well as a diverse collection of residents and organizations from various sectors, to focus on reducing childhood trauma. The workgroup has since proposed concrete changes that will more effectively prevent and treat trauma.
Key to these is the prioritization of community-clinical linkages that smoothly integrate CBO’s workforce development and housing efforts with providers’ medical and mental health care resources. Newfound partners also capitalize on their strengths and unlock their creativity, allowing all to work within existing systems to better serve residents. They collectively engage and empower residents around an interconnected web of local issues and wraparound services, including screenings and health education. For example, the LAC+USC Restorative Care Village, currently under development, will bring coordinated housing, psychiatric medical supports and job training services to one location.
SIGNS OF SUCCESS
Meaningful Policy Change
Since its launch, the HICP has accomplished eight policy wins, including the creation of a Bioscience Overlay Zone for the area (Opportunity), the passage of a county-wide local and targeted hiring policy (Community Stability), and the allocation of funding for a development project that will transform the region’s defunct Women’s and Children’s Hospital into a Restorative Care Village that will provide jobs and much-needed mental health services (Workforce and Economic Development).
The HICP also secured community benefits agreements for local development projects and has worked to amplify community voices through art and green space programs. Each of these achievements either brings jobs to the community or improves environmental health factors, helping to prevent chronic disease, reduce poverty and cut excessive commutes so parents can spend more time with their children. To advance its work to address childhood trauma as an ACH, HICP is focusing on developing a Wellness Fund designed to pool dollars to allow for strategic investments to support interventions that that break out of the traditional box of health care.
Learn more at www.hicpla.org.
The California Accountable Communities for Health Initiative (CACHI) was established to spearhead efforts to modernize our health system and build a healthier California. To realize this vision, CACHI utilizes a model known as Accountable Communities for Health (ACH), where multiple sectors align goals and collaborate to address the leading health issues facing our communities.