From Senator Rich Taylor

Written by Theresa Rose on January 30, 2015

HELPING IOWA KIDS BECOME SUCCESSFUL ADULTS

Promoting the long-term health and wellbeing of Iowa’s children is essential to our state’s future. Kids lead more productive, happy lives if they receive mental health and developmental services when they need them, according to the United Way.

Children’s brains develop over time. The growth and maturation of the brain is guided by genes and impacted by life experiences. When kids experience trauma, that stress disrupts the developing brain, producing negative lifelong consequences for learning, behavior and health.

Legislators heard this week about the problem of “Adverse Childhood Experiences” and progress over the last year to expand early childhood wellness initiatives to more counties in Iowa. The state is now collecting data on Adverse Childhood Experiences, including child abuse, neglect and household dysfunction.

Research shows that kids who experience four or more traumatic experiences in childhood have a:

• 1,525 percent greater chance of attempted suicide.

• 555 percent greater chance of alcoholism.

• 443 percent greater chance of illicit drug use.

• 357 percent greater chance of depression.

• 242 percent greater chance of smoking.

• 222 percent greater chance of obesity.

No kids should have to grow up with those kinds of odds working against them. Building resilience is the key to moderating extreme stress and promoting lifelong health. Of greatest importance are prevention and early detection, as well as family-focused approaches to supporting children and their parents.

Effective evidence-based prevention and treatment programs include Iowa’s 1st Five Healthy Mental Development Initiative, which brings together physicians and social service providers to promote healthy mental development among young kids. If a child is determined to be at risk, appropriate referrals can be made to help the family in optimizing the child’s mental development.

With continued support of the 1st Five Initiative, we can ensure that Iowa’s children begin life with the greatest opportunity to achieve school readiness, academic success and overall wellbeing throughout life.

Additional information

This is a legislative update from Senator Rich Taylor, representing Henry and Lee counties and portions of Washington and Jefferson counties. For newsletters, photos and further information, go to www.senate.iowa.gov/senator/taylor.

To contact Senator Taylor during session, call the Senate Switchboard at 515-281-3371. Otherwise he can be reached at home at 319-931-1568. E-mail him at rich.taylor@legis.iowa.gov.

Senator Taylor is chair of the Local Government Committee. He also serves on the Economic Growth, Human Resources, Judiciary, and Justice Systems Budget committees.