Economic Costs of Adverse Childhood Experiences in Alaska
Childhood trauma has profound costs
- Is there a way to reduce health care spending for Alaskan adults by $90 million annually?
- Could smoking by adults be reduced by 5.7%? If it was, how much less could Alaska spend on smoking related costs?
- What about obesity, arthritis, binge drinking, and diabetes?
The Alaska Mental Health Board and the Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse have explored these questions and found that childhood trauma has profound costs. A national study demonstrates that costs of childhood trauma begin immediately ($48,000 during childhood for every substantiated report of harm), and those costs continue for decades into the future.
The report, Economic Costs of Adverse Childhood Experiences in Alaska, takes an initial look at potential savings with even modest reductions in child trauma. While the report focuses on costs incurred by adults who experienced childhood trauma, the Boards emphasize that there are immediate savings in preventing childhood trauma.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) include:
- physical, sexual and verbal abuse;
- household dysfunction such as living with someone with substance abuse or mental illness;
- witnessing domestic violence;
- separation and divorce; and
- having a household member incarcerated.
ACEs have been shown to have an impact on many physical, social and economic outcomes in adults. The original ACE studies linked childhood trauma to wide ranging problems such as cancer, depression, work absenteeism, suicide attempts, low educational achievement, use of government food programs, learning disabilities and many more.
How Alaska invests in children and families is at the forefront of conversations about the health of our economy and communities. The costs of child trauma are experienced by individuals and families, as well as communities, employers, and government. All Alaskans benefit from preventing child trauma.
The report Economic Costs of Adverse Childhood Experiences in Alaska demonstrates what might have been and what still could be. It starts the discussion of how to effectively support the enormously important work of parents raising children.
To learn more about the problem of Adverse Childhood Experiences in Alaska, visit the Overcoming ACEs in Alaska website: dhss.alaska.gov/