ACEs activity

Universal services

Some services are available to everyone – you don’t have to ask, and there is no assessment to access, or stigma in using them.  Three key ones provided by Highland Council staff are schools and Health Visiting and School Nursing.

All of these can be very effective in working with families to ensure that children experience what they need to grow and develop.  Specifically, for preventing or reducing the impacts of childhood adversity and trauma, this is to ensure that children experience:

  • positive relationships from adults
  • experiences of mild and resolved stress
  • developmentally appropriate experiences – stimulation, learning, etc
  • care for key physical needs such as food, sleep and warmth

The reasons why these processes are so critical are outlined on this page


Health Visiting

A new national pathway sets out a high number of contacts between Health Visitors and families in the first five years of life.  Elements of this pathway specifically address the prevention of common forms of adversity and the impact of any difficulties on child development.

The specifics of the pathway can be found here. In Highland, we interpret it in terms of the Highland Practice Model, prioritising the development of positive relationships between carers and their baby.

Health Visiting support is enhanced through the pathway by the work of Early Years Practitioners who offer a wide range of support to parents as needed, again with an emphasis on supporting the development of parental confidence and positive relationships.

Among others, three key Highland initiatives support this work:

Words Up Baby is a joint Speech and Language/Educational Psychology programme that provides materials and training for midwives, health visitors and early years practitioners to support the development of early communication and attachment.  The project has made significant impacts on parenting behaviours, as shown in the Words Up Baby report.  The materials are freely available and can be viewed at this webpage
Highland Breastfeeding Support is a highly regarded service with volunteers providing support on early attachment and nutrition to families. This work was recently praised by UNICEF and integrates with Council initiatives through the Early Years Improvement Group
This website, is a collaboration between all our specialist services (Council, NHS, voluntary), along with frontline staff and parents to provide ACE-informed, strengths-based developmental advice to families.
It is continually under development, responding to requests from practitioners and parents. More information can be found here


Support for Parents

The mainstay of support for families in Highland is through the work of the integrated Family Teams. For example, Community Early Years Practitioners and Childrens Services Workers provide tailored support to parents, carers and children.

Partners such as the Care and Learning Alliance provide intervention through, for example, their Family and Toddler support work

We also offer well-evaluated programmes for parents, including PEEP, Baby Massage and Incredible Years. The Parent Support Framework describes these and the rationale for them. The Framework is due for updating during 2019 to ensure it reflects up-to-date research and best practice.



The ethos and culture of a school can contribute immeasurably to the development of resilience for children and young people.  Education is itself a resilience factor.  In addition, effective approaches to teaching and learning are also automatically resilience building.

Highland Council has recently revised the Framework and Guidance on Positive Relationships in Schools which sets this out in detail, and how schools can become more ACE-aware and trauma-informed.  A rollout programme of training, including Early Learning and Childcare Settings will be in place during 2019.

Often children who have experienced adversity and trauma can present with difficult behaviour.  The Framework and Guidance sets this in context and sets out the supports available to schools to take effective approaches.

Every school has a link Primary Mental Health Worker and an Educational Psychologist, as well as support from Allied Health Professionals – services range from consultation to support the education and the development of wellbeing to direct therapeutic intervention.


Support for Schools

The following is a selection of the support offered by different services to help schools promote positive relationships – a full directory can be found in Appendix 2 of the Framework and Guidance on Positive Relationships in Schools

For specific training on adversity and trauma, and how schools and others can work together to be ACE-aware, regular multi-agency training is offered around Highland on the Highland Child Protection Committee programme.

The following screenshots give a sense of the wider range of work  – and also where there may be gaps: