Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Trauma

About the issue

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) refer to traumatic events or circumstances which happen in childhood which can lead to poorer outcomes across the life course. These experiences can result in poorer physical and mental well-being, educational outcomes, relationships with others and economic prosperity. They can also increase the likelihood of coming into contact with the criminal justice system

View Welsh Government ACE policy report

ACEs include:

  • child maltreatment (physical and emotional abuse and neglect)
  • wider experiences of household dysfunction (domestic violence, parental separation, substance misuse, mental illness or parental incarceration)

For children who entered the care system during 2020-21, over half (59%) had experienced abuse or neglect, which are Adverse Childhood Experiences. The proportion of children receiving care and support due to family in acute distress or dysfunction increased to 30% in 2020/21 (from around 23% in recent years); this is the highest proportion seen for this category since data started being collected in 2002-03.

View 2020/2021 statistics for Wales

Good practice

Good practice at Ysgol Bodhyfryd, Wrexham

Ysgol Bodhyfryd has a number of care experienced children amongst its cohort. A trauma-informed, ACE aware approach starts at the early stages of school. Staff are encouraged to attend trauma-informed courses. Counselling is provided by CAMHS and Elsa trained staff offer support to younger pupils. A school counsellor provides weekly sessions to older pupils. In addition, Lego therapy has proved helpful for some children with complex needs.

Good practice at Twynyrodyn Community Hub, Merthyr Tydfill

Multi-agency teams work from a trauma informed approach. They support and empower young people, through a child-centred, warm and non-judgemental approach, meeting them where they are and supporting their individual needs and building on their strengths.

More information