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This year was a major milestone for the Alaska Children’s Trust (ACT) – we celebrated our 30th anniversary. Nearly 40 years ago, the first Trust was created in Kansas. Although Alaska created our Trust in statute, it was not until 1996 that the state made its’ first and only installment into our endowment breathing new life into the Trust.
The next chapter in ACT’s journey came along with a new ally – Friends of the Alaska Children’s Trust (FACT). As a government entity, ACT, needed an independent partner to help raise awareness of the issue of child abuse and neglect in Alaska and help build the endowment. For sixteen years, these two organizations worked side-by-side. In 2012, ACT experienced another transition. ACT and FACT merged, transitioning the endowment to an independent manager, and ACT becoming an independent nonprofit organization.
As the statewide lead organization to prevent child abuse and neglect, ACT focuses on large-scale social change. We have three key roles: (1) advocate, (2) convener, and (3) catalyst. As an advocate, ACT strives to actively influence public policy within political, economic and social systems and institutions. We work directly on public policy, and we raise awareness through outreach activities.
Recently, ACT launched our newest program, Voices for Alaska’s Children. Voices is a grassroots, community movement that works to build a bridge between science, practice, and policy to ensure children and families live in safe, stable and nurturing environments. It focuses on continually raising awareness of the needs and challenges of Alaska’s children and families and encouraging Alaskans to actively engage their elected officials to support children and family friendly policies. Voices hosts Kids Count Alaska. It is a resource containing reliable data, policy recommendations, and tools needed to advance sound policies that benefit children and families. We were the backbone to Protect Our Care – Alaska, that worked to protect healthcare for Alaskans.
As a convener, ACT fosters relationships across the state and within specific communities, building momentum and creating opportunities for large scale social change. No organization or program working alone will reverse Alaska’s incidence of child abuse and neglect. Two examples of ACT’s work in this arena are the Alaska Afterschool Network and the Alaska Resilience Initiative.
The Alaska Afterschool Network (AAN) is a statewide collaboration supporting and advocating for afterschool programs in Alaska. AAN, in partnership with the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, has 60 Alaskan communities, including over 45 rural communities as members. It conducts technical assistance, hosts the statewide conference, leads development of statewide quality standards, and is the lead advocate for afterschool programing. Alaska Resilience Initiative (ARI) is a network of nonprofit, tribal, and state government organizations, schools, businesses, and community coalitions working to heal intergenerational and systemic trauma and end child maltreatment through healing and strategic advocacy. The goal of ARI is to educate and advance the dialogue on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), impact of ACEs on brain architecture, and how communities can prevent ACEs and build resiliency. ARI strives to empower communities by functioning as an umbrella for trauma and resilience efforts and through a Collective Impact approach.
ACT believes if we want better health outcomes, we must apply the science of early childhood and brain development to a broader range of policies, and we must be willing to take risks and try new strategies. We recognize without new and innovative ideas we will continue to have high rates of child abuse and neglect. As a catalyst, ACT is encouraging a new culture, developing new methodologies, and promoting radical ideas in fighting an epidemic that has plagued Alaska for decades. As a grant maker, ACT has invested over $5 million supporting programs across the state focused on the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Over recent years, ACT has been restructuring grant-making processes to support activities that act further upstream and focus on the social determinants that place children at greater risk.
As the statewide lead organization focused on preventing child abuse and neglect in Alaska, we have three key roles: (1) advocate, (2) convener, and (3) catalyst. As an advocate, ACT strives to actively influence public policy within political, economic and social systems and institutions that help us build a state dedicated to ensuring the safety of Alaskan children. As the Kids Count partner, we utilize data to identify issues and mobilize partners to effectively make change.
Large scale social change requires a broad cross section of a community working collectively. No one organization or program will reverse the rising trend alone. Greater progress can be made if nonprofits, governments, businesses, and the public are brought together around a common agenda to create a collective impact. As a convener, ACT fosters these relationships across the state and within specific communities that result in forward momentum.
The Alaska Children’s Trust believes change is the only thing that can bring about progress. If we really want better health outcomes, then we must apply not only the science of early childhood and early brain development to a broader range of policies and program, we must be willing to take risks and try new strategies. It has taken us decades to reach these staggering numbers of Alaskan children who are abused or neglected. Our previous attempts to change this negative trend have resulted in little to no change. We recognize without new and innovative ideas, we will continue to see our numbers rise. As a catalyst, ACT will encourage a new culture, methodology and ideas in fighting an epidemic that has plagued Alaska for decades.
Together with your support, ACT will change the trend and ensure the safety of all Alaska children.