Zions Place was created to identify and help children affected by adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Research shows childhood trauma can greatly impact a child’s ability to learn, form relationships, and function appropriately in a traditional classroom environment. Children who are not helped may choose to act out with violence, or turn to substance abuse, thus impacting their ability to become successful adults and contributing members of society.
Zions Place operates in two phases. The first phase is about identifying children who need help through the use of the ACEs test. Children who may need help are referred to Zions Place by school leadership and appointed a Family Coach who will give the ACEs questionnaire to the child and the child’s caregiver. The ACEs questionnaire screens for stressful or traumatic events, including physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; physical or emotional neglect; parental mental illness, substance dependence, incarceration; parental separation or divorce; domestic violence; bullying; poverty; unsanitary living environments where roaches and/or mice are present; and gang violence. A counselor from Zions Place will survey the home, and do a thorough assessment of the family’s needs.
Children who score high on the test will receive coordinated services from Zions Place, their assigned Family Coach, and school counselors in a trauma-sensitive environment. They will receive counseling and learn healthy coping mechanisms in an environment where they will receive positive reinforcement rather than strict punishment.
Zions Place operates under four common values: (1) understanding among all staff; (2) a child-safe environment—supports will be in place to ensure all children feel safe physically, socially, emotionally, and academically; (3) holistic-approach to addressing children’s needs; (4) connection to community and opportunities for skill-development; (5) teamwork and a shared-staff approach to responsibilities; and (6) adaptation to ever-changing needs of students.