SNEEDVILLE — During the ‘New Business’ item on the Hancock Co. Board of Education’s April 11, 2019, agenda, Director of Schools Tony Seal said that the system has been approved for an ACEs grant of $75,000 to help address the needs of ‘at-risk’ students.

“We had asked for $97,000,” Seal said. “We’re waiting from them to contact us regarding how we’re going to adjust that budget,” Seal said. “We had a salary figured in there and we’re hoping we’re going to be able to keep that.”

Out of $11 million in applications statewide, only $4 million in grants were approved, he said.

That program will start around July 1, 2019, as soon as the system receives the contract, Seal added.

The grant request for was an additional counselor to work at both schools, and to conduct home visits to help students who are living in “adverse” situations.

ACEs is an acronym for Adverse Childhood Experiences in Tennessee.

According to the State Dept. of Education’s website, chronic childhood trauma, or what experts call “adverse childhood experiences”, can disrupt a child’s brain-building process.

“Like building a house in a storm or with below-grade materials and tools, ACEs are toxic to brain development and can compromise the brain’s structural integrity,” the website states. “Left unaddressed, ACEs and their effects make it more difficult for a child to succeed in school, live a healthy life and contribute to the state’s future prosperity — our communities, our workforce, and our civic life.”

“Building Strong Brains: Tennessee ACEs Initiative” is a major effort to transform the state into a national model for how culture change in early childhood can be promoted based on a philosophy that preventing and mitigating adverse childhood experiences, and their impact, is the most promising approach to helping Tennessee children lead productive, healthy lives and ensure the future prosperity of the state.

The Tennessee initiative grew from research gathered in a major study of childhood abuse and neglect and their effects on life-long health and well-being, the website continues.

“The study found that the greater the exposure to things such as domestic violence, addiction, depression in early childhood, the greater the risk for later-life problems such as higher risk for chronic illnesses, poverty, depression and addictive behaviors,” according to the site.

Goals of the ACEs initiative include

• Increase the potential that every child born in Tennessee has the opportunity to lead a healthy, productive life.

• Raise public knowledge about ACEs.

• Impact public policy in Tennessee to support prevention of ACEs and to reduce community conditions that contribute to them.

• Support innovative local and state projects that offer fresh thinking and precise measurement of impact in addressing ACEs and toxic stress in children.

• Seek sustainable funding to ensure the state maintains a long-term commitment to reduce the impact of adverse childhood experiences.

• Embrace open, responsive governance through statewide planning groups and the Three Branches Institute , comprised of leadership from the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government, who were invited by the Governor to form a common agenda to advance child welfare and realign the juvenile justice system.