Tonette Walker on childhood street and trauma-informed care

Trauma-informed care investigates how toxic stress and adverse childhood experiences shape a person's life. The first lady and the governor are committed to raising awareness.

"We believe in the outcome. We believe we can truly change the way we treat children and families in Wisconsin," said Tonette Walker.

She appeared before the Milwaukee Press Club this week with a panel of experts to address childhood trauma.

One way to measure the level of childhood stress is through a test known as ACE. It's the acronym for Adverse Childhood Experiences.

The higher the score, the more the trauma and the greater potential for mental physical and emotional problems.

"Watch a child's behavior because that tells us what's going on in the family," said Walker.

She has dealt with her own childhood challenges.

"My parents were divorced. I had a grandmother that was mentally ill and she took care of my brother and I. My parents were 16 and 17 when they got married...There were some alcoholism episodes here and there," she said. 

But Walker credits her late mother for being a saving grace.

"My mom was constant in my life and she was tough. She kept you going and you picked yourself up and kept moving," she said. 

Walker notes that strangers can lift a life.

"I think about being that mother in the grocery store with Matt and Alex and thinking oh my gosh, people are staring at me they think I can't do my job as a mother. But that one look from someone in the grocery store or in line that says I get it. That kind of look that can probably change your whole day as a parent," she said. 

Walker says such moments help us remember we are not alone. And we can help each other especially our youth.

"We all can make a difference in a child's life."

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