Ending an epidemic of childhood trauma requires courage, compassion and a plan. Anna, Age Eight provides the solution.


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

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

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


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 promoting health, safety and resiliency so that every family can thrive.

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For more information about Anna, Age Eight and the Data Leaders for Child Welfare and Resilience Leaders for Public Health programs it's based on, please contact the authors Dominic Cappello in Seattle at dom@safetyandsuccess.org or Katherine Ortega Courtney, PhD in Santa Fe at kcourtney@santafecf.org.

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