Adverse Childhood Experiences Response Team (ACERT)
Merrimack County Advocacy Center is also home to the Adverse Childhood Experiences Response Team (ACERT) Coordinator. The Adverse Childhood Experience Response Team (ACERT) is made up of a local police officer, a behavioral health professional, a crisis center advocate, and a family support advocate. The role of the ACERT Coordinator at Merrimack County Advocacy Center is to work collaboratively with local police departments to identify children who have been exposed to adverse experiences such as abuse, neglect, domestic violence, and household dysfunction, and then connect the child(ren)/family to local community resources who can intervene. The goal of intervention is to lessen the immediate and long-term harm to the child(ren), to build individual and family protective factors, and to prevent adverse childhood experiences.
The ACERT program strives to bring awareness, prevention, and intervention throughout Merrimack County around adverse childhood experiences and their potential impact on individuals and families, which can include both negative health and behavioral outcomes in adulthood. The work focuses on two strength-based approaches:
- Implementation of a systematic and collaborative referral process that connects children to community partners who can provide direct services such as evidence-based therapy, recreational and therapeutic based programs, and mentoring programs.
- Providing trauma-informed training to first responders and social service providers to foster a competent, compassionate, and effective workforce around trauma informed practices and mitigation of adverse childhood experiences.