Funding will focus on reaching the L.A. County Medi-Cal Provider Community through various engagement activities and peer-to-peer learning

Los Angeles, CA First 5 LA, an independent public agency working to strengthen systems, parents and communities in Los Angeles County, has been awarded $225,000 in grant funds from the Office of the California Surgeon General (CA-OSG) and the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to participate in the state’s ACEs Aware initiative to address adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in light of the stress children and their families are experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic. With this funding, First 5 LA will conduct provider engagement activities to promote the ACEs Aware initiative among the Medi-Cal provider community in Los Angeles County.

“We are looking forward to working in partnership with this amazing group of community leaders to further our efforts to help health care providers become ACEs Aware,” said California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris. “This work is critical, now more than ever, given the stress so many Californians are experiencing as a result of COVID-19 and the role of racial injustice as a risk factor for toxic stress. A trauma-informed health care workforce is vital for helping our state heal.”

A total of $14.3 million was awarded to 100 organizations, from a submission of 300 applicants, throughout the state to extend the reach and impact of the ACEs Aware initiative. ACEs Aware seeks to change and save lives by helping Medi-Cal providers understand the importance of screening for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and training them to respond with trauma-informed care.

The ACEs Aware grants will provide funding to organizations to design and implement training, provider engagement, and education activities for providers and organizations that serve Medi-Cal beneficiaries.

The grant funding will provide critical support to community organizations serving Medi-Cal providers and beneficiaries, which have been experiencing increased stress during the COVID-19 emergency. Grant activities will augment California’s efforts, underway since the summer of 2019, to develop provider training and engage providers, including the promotion of payments to Medi-Cal providers for screening their patients for ACEs.

Amidst a global pandemic, young children and families are experiencing unparalleled levels of stress,” said Kim Belshé, executive director for First 5 LA. “By convening key partners in the early learning and health care systems in L.A. County, we’ll have the ability to elevate awareness of ACEs, identify solutions to support families experiencing trauma, and address health disparities. Medi-Cal providers are central to improving outcomes for children and their families. Through ACEs Aware, First 5 LA will help strengthen their knowledge of early childhood trauma, reinforce the importance of screenings and address the gaps in the system of referrals and supports to provide critical continuous care for children and their families.”

On July 9th, First 5 LA’s Board of Commissioners approved receipt of these funds through June 29, 2021. First 5 LA will partner with key stakeholders in L.A. County to implement provider engagement activities, including: 1) Network of Care Activities for providers across service sectors; 2) Peer-to-Peer Learning amongst primary care physicians; and 3) White Paper Development to influence large scale systems change for screening alignment, treatment and referrals/care coordination.

Added Dr. Karen Mark, DHCS Medical Director: “DHCS is committed to preserving and improving the overall health and well-being of all Californians. The ACEs Aware initiative is a vital part of the Medi-Cal program’s response to the COVID-19 emergency. These grants will help us reach Medi-Cal providers who serve diverse and often at-risk populations throughout the state and will help to ensure that Medi-Cal members receive the high-quality, integrated care that every Californian deserves.”

Funding for the ACEs Aware grants was previously authorized in the 2019-20 budget using Proposition 56 funds for provider training on how to conduct ACEs screening in the Medi-Cal population. In light of the COVID-19 emergency, the grant funding will provide critical support to the community organizations serving Medi-Cal providers and beneficiaries.

The full list of ACEs Aware grantees is available on the ACEs Aware Website.

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About First 5 LA

First 5 LA is an independent public agency working to strengthen systems, parents and communities so that by 2028, all children in L.A. County will enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life. For more information please visit,

About ACEs Aware

Led by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, California Surgeon General, and Dr. Karen Mark, Medical Director for DHCS, the ACEs Aware initiative offers Medi-Cal providers core training, screening tools, clinical protocols, and payment for screening children and adults for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), which are stressful or traumatic experiences people have by age 18 that were identified in the landmark ACE Study. ACEs describe 10 categories of adversities in three domains – abuse, neglect, and/or household dysfunction. ACEs are strongly associated with at least nine out of 10 of the leading causes of death in the United States. Part of Governor Gavin Newsom’s California for All initiative, the goal of ACEs Aware is to reduce ACEs and toxic stress by half in one generation. Follow ACEs Aware on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Office of the California Surgeon General

The role of California Surgeon General was created in 2019 by Governor Gavin Newsom to advise the Governor, serve as a leading spokesperson on public health matters, and drive solutions to the state’s most pressing public health challenges. As California’s first Surgeon General, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris has established early childhood, health equity, and ACEs and toxic stress as key priorities.

California Department of Health Care Services

DHCS is the backbone of California’s health care safety net, helping millions of low-income and disabled Californians each and every day. The mission of DHCS is to provide Californians with access to affordable, integrated, high-quality health care, including medical, dental, mental health, substance use treatment services, and long-term care. DHCS’ vision is to preserve and improve the overall health and well-being of all Californians. DHCS funds health care services for about 13 million Medi-Cal beneficiaries.