The complexity of generational poverty cannot be overstated. The borderline where poverty's causes end and its effects begin is ever shifting. A long list of conditions --- social isolation, disability, mental illness, to
name a few - are discussed as both causes and effects of poverty. Due to the intricacy of this problem, Pro Action regularly tests innovative approaches to surround and conquer poverty from its many sides.
One approach inherent in Pro Action's integrated service model is known as a "two-generation" approach. What this means is that Pro Action delivers education, skill-building and support for the whole family. Whole-family services build skills for working, parenting, planning, organizing, decision-making, resilience, self-regulation and family functioning. Adults with these capabilities can provide for the family's basic needs and create safe, stable, nurturing environments that support child development. With these conditions met, we are able to combat poverty more effectively.
The skill of resilience is a particularly strong focus given Pro Action's mission to build a community of resilient individuals and families who can meet their basic needs, overcome adversity and prosper. In 2017, we began a journey to tell the story of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and resilience by coordinating screenings of
Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope
. The movie overviews how ACEs and toxic stress affect brain development and biological systems, while asserting that supportive relationships buffer this stress and promote resilience. Importantly, brain research suggests that the effects of early childhood trauma and adversity can be successfully treated.
In addition, Pro Action took steps to excite and motivate the community's response by initiating a process to become an early adopter and champion of trauma-informed service practices within our agency. Our aim is to re-write the story of how our own, and our partners', systems perceive and respond to people affected by poverty and other adverse experiences. For years, Pro Action has been a leader in dispelling myths about poverty and the people living in its grip. Research on ACEs, Resilience and Trauma-informed service provides further proof that poverty and other difficult life circumstances are not moral deficiencies, but reflect biological adaptations to threatening environments. We can and must instead build nurturing, protective environments.