complex trauma

Paper Tigers Screenings in May and June

EHF is delighted to announce more screenings of the documentary Paper Tigers will be held throughout our community in the months of May and June!  The film follows a year in the life of an alternative high school that has radically changed its approach to disciplining its students, becoming a promising model for how to break the cycles of poverty, violence and disease that affect families.  If you are curious about the innovative work being done to prevent and mitigate Adverse Childhood Experiences here in Washington State, check out one of the screenings:


Click the button below to download a flyer with the full list of screenings!

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For more information, contact Christina Kamkosi at christina@empirehealthfoundation.org.

Paper Tigers Screening at Gonzaga on Sunday, April 17

For those of you looking to learn more about trauma-informed approaches to working with adverse childhood experiences or ACEs, Gonzaga University will be showing a screening of the documentary Paper Tigers on Sunday, April 17.  The incredible work being done at Lincoln Alternative High School in Walla Walla was part of EHF's inspiration to explore supporting trauma-training and restorative justice initiatives at Rogers High School here in Spokane, where we collaborated to reduce the out of school suspension rate by 35% in one year.  Come check out the movie to learn more!

Severe Poverty Affects Brain Size

Image courtesy of the National Institute of Mental Health,

Image courtesy of the National Institute of Mental Health,

The Spokesman Review recently reported on a University of Wisconsin study that shows the link between growing up in extreme poverty and smaller brain size, particularly in the regions of the brain connected with academic performance.  This study contributes to the vast amount of research exploring the links between poverty, child brain development, and poor academic performance, which forms the basis of our work to prevent and mitigate Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in Eastern Washington.  According to the study, "as much as 20% of the gap in test scores [between children in poverty and more affluent children] could be explained by slower development of two parts of the brain."  

Combined with, for example, the research presented in the KSPS Documentary Born to Learn, this finding adds to our sense of urgency to address this inequity at a systems level.  

As study author Seth Pollack sums up,

Americans tend to really like to believe in this narrative that everyone here has a chance, This kind of research suggests that we have some kids entering kindergarten at totally not a level playing field – with environments that are so impoverished and under-stimulated and nonconducive to healthy growth, we’ve got little 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds starting kindergarten already at an extreme disadvantage.
— Seth Pollack, Prof. of Psychology, UW-Madison

Check out the full article from the Spokesman here, or download the PDF below.

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Check Out "Born to Learn" at KSPS.com!

If you were not able to catch “Born to Learn” on KSPS on July 30, not to worry – you can stream it on KSPS.com!

“Born to Learn” takes a look at the fascinating links between childhood experiences and brain development.  Interviews with leading researchers from the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Science and the Chicago Medical School give insights into infant brain development, explaining the profound effects that seemingly simple interactions – for example, holding a newborn’s hand – have on baby’s developing brain.  This type of positive interaction sets the stage for pre-school and kindergarten readiness, and its absence can create daunting obstacles to learning for children throughout their schooling.  Negative experiences and neglect contribute to what researchers call “toxic stress” that negatively affects brain development, making it difficult for children to learn in school down the road.  In fact, it is precisely this research that led EHF to start investing in the prevention and mitigation of adverse childhood experiences in 2012.

EHF was able to support this project through our Responsive Grant Cycle in 2014, and we are so excited to be able to share the finished documentary!

Family Impact Network begins rolling launch!

Our newest subsidiary, the Family Impact Network, begins its network administration role for parent-child visitation services in Spokane County July 1!  A partnership with Washington State Children's Administration, this new public-private collaboration is working to implement performance based contracting in the child welfare system, supporting regional service delivery and creating efficiencies within the delivery system while incentivizing positive outcomes for children.  This new delivery system will provide support, allow for flexibility, and offer new data so that social workers and providers can best serve children and families. 

FIN developed out of EHF's strategic focus on preventing and mitigating adverse childhood experiences as part of its work to improve health outcomes in Eastern Washington.  Stay tuned for more updates as FIN's roll out continues!