Promoting Trauma-Informed Care in Response to ACEs in Northern Wisconsin

How is Brown County United Way raising awareness of trauma-informed care (TIC) and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)? With a collaborative, communitywide approach, the program and its partners have successfully introduced TIC practices to many public service sectors including housing, education, youth programs, and mental health care. Their efforts are making Brown County’s culture of care better for residents receiving care as well as stakeholders providing services.

In Brown County, as in Wisconsin overall, more than half of all adults have experienced at least one ACE in their life before the age of 18. These traumatic childhood experiences can have a lasting effect on people’s health and well-being. In Brown County, 35% of adults also reported having at least one poor mental health day per month. We know that ACEs can make us more vulnerable to environments and behaviors that lead to both poor mental and physical health. Research shows that ACEs impact all populations, regardless of identity. Now Brown County United Way and its partners are working together to address ACEs, as well as other traumas that impact health and well-being. 

In Brown County, as in Wisconsin overall, more than half of adults have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE) in their past.

How? By teaching Brown County organizations the latest TIC tools and strategies. These new approaches address the consequences of psychological trauma and help programs create safe, resilient communities. It’s a culture-wide change that encourages human service professionals to ask, “What happened to you?” instead of “What’s wrong with you?” TIC helps “human service professionals, employers, and others understand, anticipate, and respond to each individual as a unique person with their own set of circumstances,” according to Childhood Trauma and Brown County Efforts, 2018. “It also builds an understanding of how the past impacts the present, which effectively supports progress toward healing and recovery.”

Now more agencies, schools, workplaces and communities in Wisconsin understand the importance of safe, nurturing environments. Brown County United Way and its partners helped to pave the way by promoting many best and promising TIC practices and programs. So far, their accomplishments include:

  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Children, teens, and their families learn to overcome the negative effects of traumatic experiences with this evidence-based treatment model. 
  • Trauma-Informed Parenting: This training program helps families, caregivers, and other service providers understand trauma-informed care, child traumatic stress and resilience.  
  • Community Response Program: A network of agencies and trauma-informed staff connect families at risk for child abuse or neglect with vital services like counseling, parenting support, and nutritious food in this voluntary, short-term program.
  • Gateway to Early Childhood Services: Through the Community Partnership for Children, a network of Brown County agencies provides new parents and families with young children with home visits, parenting education, and other vital support services. The Partnership aims to make connections before a crisis occurs.
  • Trauma-Informed Organizations Learning Collaborative: To improve the quality and culture of care in Brown County and to support professionals who may experience indirect trauma, this training program has coordinated trauma-informed learning opportunities for more than 1,000 human service professionals and community members. 

For more information, please visit Brown County United Way’s website at  


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