Greater Cincinnati Region

Building Community Resilience:
Greater Cincinnati Region


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"Joining Forces for Children aims to improve child health and wellness by strengthening the protective factors that build resilience in children and their families. Over the last two years, we have seen this work strongly resonate with - and inspire - parents, social service providers, educators, health care providers, and community members. Most exciting is the energy and effort contributed by individuals and organizations as we collaborate to improve outcomes for our community and children."

-Dr. Bob Shapiro,
Division Director, Mayerson Center for Safe & Healthy Children, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

The Greater Cincinnati Region’s Core BCR Team

Joining Forces for Children, the regional initiative participating in the Building Community Resilience (BCR) learning collaborative, is spearheaded by The Mayerson Center for Safe and Healthy Children at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and spans multiple counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Joining Forces for Children (JFfC) includes over 50 organizations and 600 members from school systems, social service agencies, medical providers, parenting support organizations, early childhood professionals, home visitation services, and many other stakeholders.

The Community Context

Children, families, and communities in the greater Cincinnati region face many challenges that increase the likelihood of negative health and other life outcomes. For example, Cincinnati children experience neighborhood violence or have had an incarcerated parent at more than double the national averages, according to 2016 National Survey for Children’s Health data. Cincinnati also has one of the highest child poverty rates in the nation. In the 2017 Child Well-Being Survey (CWBS), it was found that for our region, these adverse experience are more common in households earning less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG). Finally, the Ohio Valley is also ground-zero for the nation’s opioid epidemic, which has taken an unprecedented toll on families, communities, and the region’s major systems, from mental health and substance abuse programming to education, foster care, and public safety.

While these challenges exist, Greater Cincinnati also has many essential strengths and assets that the local BCR coalition is lifting up and building upon, including increased investments at state and local levels for trauma-informed systems building, a heightened focus on family-centered solution designs, and strong community driven focus on multi-generational approaches to build resilient families.

Adapting and Growing Through the BCR Process

In 2015, Joining Forces for Children (JFfC) developed a five-year strategic plan that “incorporates the concepts involved in adversity reduction as well as resilience building within families.” An essential component of the work is expanding implementation of trauma-informed approaches to individuals and systems that interact with children and families. The work of Joining Forces for Children has evolved to focus on four key areas, or channels. Within each channel, activities raise awareness, provide trainings around the Pair of ACEs and their impact on child health and other outcomes, encourage adoption of trauma-informed practices, expand screening for exposure to ACEs in children and parents, and develop policies to create trauma-informed communities:

  • Early Childhood channel- focuses on children younger than 8 years old and their families.
  • School Age channel- focuses on children between 5-18 years old
  • Health Care channel- focuses on patients (child and parent) and healthcare providers.
  • Community Connections channel- focuses on awareness and knowledge building for anyone in our community interested in connecting with Joining Forces for Children and learning more about ACEs, toxic stress and building resilience.

Policy and Advocacy

Joining Forces for Children utilized the support of BCR policy experts in responding to local and statewide advocacy opportunities. In both Ohio and Kentucky, policy makers are responding to the opioid crisis. With BCR’s support, Joining Forces for Children leadership developed relationships with legislators and were asked to provide continued guidance and information as more funding is allocated to both the trauma informed care funding for families and children and prevention and response to the opioid crisis. With the help of BCR’s Policy Director, Joining Forces for Children leadership crafted coalition letters, letters to the editor, and best practice information on the biological impact of ACEs, the need for an upstream analysis and response to the multi-generational trauma related to the opioid crisis.

Next Steps

With each channel working towards specific system goals and objectives to accomplish over the next 1-2 years, the JFfC backbone staff are developing dashboards to measure channel work and system impact using a multi-method evaluation approach. JFfC will to continue to learn from the national BCR learning collaborative and other cities that are developing community-wide measurement of exposure to adversities and factors that support resilience.


Robert Shapiro, MD
Division Director Mayerson Center for Safe and Healthy
Children Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
[email protected]

Erin Saul, MBLI
Steering Committee Member
Joining Forces for Children
[email protected]