Anna, Age Eight Is the Nation’s Blueprint for Ending the Epidemic of Childhood Trauma


Anna, Age Eight was inspiring. It's now our city's blueprint for ensuring all our children are safe from adverse childhood experiences and family trauma. It provides a step-by-step process for strengthening services shown to empower children and parents. Literally hundreds of our community members have read the book and we've started a movement guided by data, collaboration and a shared vision of what the authors describe as Family-Friendly City-version 2.0.

Rosemary Conder, Executive Director, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Ohio Valley, Inc, Kentucky

Congratulations to Dr. Katherine Ortega Courtney and Dominic Cappello on the publication of their powerful and important book. We have far too many children in Santa Fe and across the nation who simply aren’t getting the love, care, and attention they deserve. They aren’t safe, and that’s just plain wrong. This book tells that story—and what we can all do to help our kids. Please read this book and tell your friends, neighbors and elected officials to do the same.

Alan Webber, Mayor of Santa Fe, co-founder of Fast Company magazine and founder of One New Mexico

I was eager to read Anna, Age Eight, having collaborated with the authors on their Data Leaders for Child Welfare program earlier. The book has become a catalyst for important community forums on the root causes of family trauma and how to engage the city in data-driven prevention. Each chapter offers practical ways for addressing long-standing challenges. I especially liked reading their ideas for designing a new version of Child Protective Services called " Child Welfare 2.0," and creating a citywide system of trauma-informed behavioral health care to heal families. For elected officials, the business community and the public, Anna, Age Eight will provide a framework for using data, technology and community empowerment, to create a city where all children are nurtured and all families have the support they need to thrive.

Kasandra Gandara, City of Las Cruces Council member, New Mexico

Anna, Age Eight is a compelling read, but more than that, its takes an urgently needed "big picture" view of the problem of adverse childhood experiences. The book serves as a guide for city leaders and caring residents who wish to design a city that works for its most vulnerable families. In Santa Fe, this means engagement through collaboration, technology and design thinking---and private and public partnerships.

David Karsmer, DKinnovationsCo., Santa Fe


Anna, Age Eight is the nation’s blueprint for creating safe childhoods—providing a data-driven and collaborative strategy for preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and family trauma. The book promotes public and private sector collaboration, guiding mayors, school boards, state lawmakers, business leaders and a solution-seeking public.

Read Anna, Age Eight and discover how your city can harness the power of data and technology to end an epidemic of childhood and family trauma. Design a city system that ensures safe childhoods and resilient families—version 2.0.

Download your copy now and get inspired!


If one in eight children suffered from an unknown but debilitating virus, outrage would boil, editorials would harangue public officials, and agencies would mobilize to counter the threat. The CDC would scramble resources to develop and share effective preventive measures while searching for a safe, effective vaccine. We would fight the scourge as we would a war of national survival, reclaiming our children from the grip of this terrible, devastating disease.

With research showing child maltreatment is substantiated for one in eight children in the US, it's clear Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), a broader category of experiences than just maltreatment, are at an epidemic scale in our society.1

Slowly and silently, these emotionally and physically abusive experiences can have long-term and life-long consequences depending on the survivor's and family's access to treatment. It’s important to note that most forms of ACEs are hidden from protective services yet the consequences of untreated childhood trauma can destroy essential relationships, fill our jails, diminish our workforce, inhibit learning in our schools, overtax our emergency rooms, and encourage the sort of hopelessness that drives people to drugs and other self-destructive behaviors. Everyone is harmed, directly or indirectly, as the trauma is passed from generation to generation.

Our nation is in the midst of an epidemic of childhood trauma.

The book suggests a series of shockingly modest yet strategic reforms, changes that can ensure that the future systems of protection in every community are better at identifying their own shortcomings and fixing them. The book offers a way to address the root causes of childhood trauma. After years of working with child welfare systems across the country to create a data-driven approach to addressing child maltreatment, we provide a blueprint for strengthening systems of care that prevent childhood adversity, neglect and abuse before it happens. The proven strategies proposed have the power to heal families, illustrating how we can all take courageous and compassionate steps toward designing child-friendly, trauma-free communities.

The authors' main thesis, quite simply, is that protecting all our children is entirely possible, but only when we know the scope of the challenges families face. The book provides a detailed, data-driven analysis of the scope of the problem and how to strengthen systems designed to protect our children. The proven strategies proposed have the power to heal families, illustrating how we can all take courageous and compassionate steps toward designing child-friendly, trauma-free communities.


Katherine Ortega Courtney has a PhD in Experimental Psychology from the Texas Christian University, where she studied at the Institute of Behavioral Research. Dr. Courtney worked with the State of New Mexico for eight years, first as the Juvenile Justice Epidemiologist, then as Bureau Chief of the Child Protective Services Research, Assessment and Data Bureau. An advocate for data-informed decision-making, Dr. Courtney championed and co-developed the Child Protective Service’s Data Leaders program, liaising with Casey Family Programs as she oversaw program implementation and the training of the majority of local office managers throughout the state. She currently is the Director of Collective Impact Initiatives with the Santa Fe Community Foundation. Dr. Courtney continues to serve as an advocate for strengthening continuous quality improvement throughout all the sectors that impact children, youth and families.

Dominic Cappello is the co-founder of Safety+Success Communities, a socially-engaged, non-profit strategic planning organization. He has a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Language and Communication from Regis University. He began his work in public service as a health educator in Seattle’s juvenile detention facility. He worked for the New Mexico Department of Health Epidemiology and Response Division and the New Mexico Child Protective Services Research, Assessment and Data Bureau, where he collaborated with Casey Family Programs to co-develop the Data Leaders for Child Welfare program. This training has been implemented with leaders in New York City, Connecticut and New Mexico. Cappello is the creator of the Ten Talks book series on family safety that gained a national audience when he discussed his work on The Oprah Winfrey Show. He advocates for continuous quality improvement and a data-driven and systematic approach to preventing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) through his Resilience Leaders program. Contact


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If you missed Dominic and Katherine on the radio discussing Child Welfare 2.0 and Anna Age Eight, you can listen to these important conversations online: Show 1, Show 2.


For more information about Anna, Age Eight, the Data Leaders for Child Welfare program and the Resilience Leaders-ACEs Prevention program, please contact the authors Dominic Cappello or Katherine Ortega Courtney, PhD in Santa Fe at

Now Available as a FREE Download

To address a public crisis, we're putting Anna, Age Eight in the hands of everyone—free of charge.

Anna, Age Eight is informing how congresspeople, state senators and representatives, mayors, city council members, county commissioners, school boards, university staff, child welfare directors and advocates for families and children can implement the data-driven prevention of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and family trauma.

We have been asked by government leaders to make Anna, Age Eight as widely available as possible to the public. Our response was to create a version you may download free-of-charge. You may also support our non-profit organization by purchasing Anna, Age Eight on Amazon in paperback and Kindle version.

We are gratified to know that Anna, Age Eight is serving as a blueprint for cities seeking to end the costly epidemic of child abuse and neglect. We look forward to supporting your vital local work.

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More Praise for Anna Age Eight

Anna, Age Eight is a call for much-needed action. Childhood trauma and maltreatment are predictable in many ways. We know why it occurs and we must be strategic if we are to significantly reduce it. The book asks that we educate ourselves about this hidden epidemic of trauma and mobilize our cities and towns around evidence-based solutions. The book is a blueprint for creating family-friendly and trauma-free communities across the nation. Kudos to authors Courtney and Cappello.

Pepper Schwartz, PhD, Author and Professor of Sociology at the University of Washington

While being raised in an era of technological progress, many of our youngest generation still face complex personal traumas. Abuse knows no socio-economic or geographic boundaries, but it can be overcome and its damage repaired. This remarkable book is the brainchild of authors Courtney and Cappello, whose empathy, reason and inspired thinking have resulted in a brilliant plan to heal the scars of a generation. Should be required reading for every teacher, every parent, and every public leader from health official to mayor—because this epidemic of trauma is real and must be taken seriously.

Yarrott Benz, teacher and author of The Bone Bridge: A Brother's Story, IPPY gold medal winner

Anna, Age Eight: The data-driven prevention of childhood trauma and maltreatment (Ortega Courtney, Cappello. 2018) is about using data to inform decisions that affect the well-being of the most vulnerable members of our communities - our children. The authors assert that a handful of ACE's (Adverse Childhood Experiences) can predict the levels of trauma in a child's life, and doing something about these early on can reverse their negative effects. With the right software and training, public health workers can become data leaders, saving the government millions of dollars and saving families multitudes of heartbreaks. The authors offer common sense solutions including systemic change and a plea for attention on the part of citizens and lawmakers to "give a damn."Ortega Courtney and Cappello present an authentic analysis of the problems based on their personal experiences working in the field of child protective services, an utterly valuable and critical perspective. Their style of writing is not only accessible, informative and analytical, but also passionate, insightful and amusing.

Pamela Etre-Perez, Ph.D., Former Director of Adult Education, State of New Mexico; Former Dean of the School of Adult Education, Central New Mexico Community College, Albuquerque, NM

I appreciate the genuine and authentic approach to creating a narrative for a very emotionally charged social and public health issue. As a licensed clinical social worker/psychotherapist, I am aware of the long lasting scars that are carried into adulthood by children who have experienced complex trauma. Anna, Age Eight provides candid snapshots of various perspectives from the client, to the service providers and the systems that must be navigated. The narrative provides what we need to be compassionate, intentional, and proactive in our approach to starting a movement, one that begins by shedding a punitive mentality and adopting an inspiring, hopeful, and "that changes now" attitude. It's a powerful little paperback that tells it like it is, dares us to imagine a better future for our children and delivers a way to get there. And when all is said and done, it honors the life and death of a little girl named Anna.

Xenia Becher, MSW, Syracuse, NY

I love this book because it's recommendations are actionable, at what ever level of public engagement you begin from. The discovery of the role of adverse childhood experiences in health is one of the most important breakthroughs in the last four decades. These issues affect many of us, silently. The authors have done a superb job of covering the issues and leaving the reader ready to act. Please buy a few extra copies and give them to your pastor, your city council person, your congressional representative, state legislators, teacher friends, and your pediatrician.

Robin Swift, Public Health Expert, New Mexico

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