Credit: NJ DCF NJ ACEs Statewide Action Plan, 2021

Credit: Governor Murphy Press Conference, February 4, 2021


The New Jersey ACEs Collaborative (the Collaborative) is a partnership between the Turrell Fund, The Nicholson Foundation, the Burke Foundation, and the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF), serving as a unique public-private alliance seeking to increase public awareness of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and mobilize sectors in New Jersey such as:

  • Health
  • Business
  • Education
  • Child welfare
  • Government
  • Nonprofit
  • Philanthropy  

ACEs are stressful or traumatic events, including abuse, neglect, domestic violence, household mental illness, household substance misuse, and parental separation or divorce.  Without the presence of a positive buffer, such as a nurturing parent or caregiver, ACEs can lead to a toxic stress response that disrupts brain architecture and has negative, lifelong effects on health and well-being.


The statewide work of the Collaborative was spearheaded by Dave Ellis, the previous Executive Director for the Office of Resilience within DCF.  Ellis led a cross-sectoral committee comprised of New Jersey leaders to coordinate statewide work, including the development and implementation of a statewide action plan that addressed the needs and strengths of New Jersey’s children and parents. In addition, he represented NJ ACEs initiatives both locally and nationally, identified grassroots and community-led ACEs efforts, and offered technical assistance and support for organizations to implement the action plan.


The goal of the ACEs Collaborative is for New Jersey to become a trauma-informed state, resulting in reduced instances of ACEs and enhanced support systems for children, and helping people who have experienced trauma build resilience.  Resilience against instances of ACEs prevents toxic stress and supports New Jerseyans’ long-term health and well-being.

Additional Strategies

Utilizing a complimentary communications campaign to raise public awareness around ACEs and engage different sectors, including law enforcement and education, to embrace trauma-informed practices and training.

Engaging cross-sector community members through focus groups and collaborative discussions for knowledge-sharing, brainstorming, and planning the development of the statewide action plan.

Producing a report, “Adverse Childhood Experiences: Opportunities to Prevent, Protect Against, and Heal from the Effects of ACEs in New Jersey”, to detail the challenges NJ faces in addressing ACEs and inform the statewide action plan in development.

Learning from and partnering with national experts, including the previous Surgeon General of California, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, to inform the work of the NJ ACEs initiative.

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