Report | November 17, 2017

Preventing Childhood Adversity Can Ensure Citizen Readiness in Colorado

How Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) impact productivity, crime, and military eligibility

Over the past few decades, new research has shed light on the pervasive effects of early adversity in life. Adverse childhood experiences (also known as “ACEs”) such as child abuse, neglect, and even parental divorce can derail children’s development, both physically and mentally, and put them at-risk of chronic disease, depression, and other ailments later in life. The problem is significant in Colorado, where 15 percent of adults report experiencing four or more ACEs as a child.

15 percent of Colorado adults report more than four adverse experiences as a child. By addressing the root causes of crime, like ACEs, we can build safer communities.

Sheriff Jeff Shrader, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office

But the side effects of ACEs aren’t limited to health. Research also chronicles the effect of adversity on children’s educational and workforce outcomes and involvement in crime. This report discusses what that means for Coloradans’ “citizen readiness” ― whether they are productive, crime-free, and military eligible ― and the implications for the economy, public safety, and national security.

The report also presents policy recommendations, such as investing in voluntary home visiting programs, screening children for ACEs and connecting them with appropriate services, and providing mental health support in child care and preschool programs.


  1. Colorado*