The Mother of All Advice Columns

The Mother of All Advice Columns

You often don’t know the value of what you’ve lived through until it’s in the past. If you’ve had kids at home throughout this pandemic, you have so many life lessons to share with other parents. But putting the pandemic aside for a moment, traveling the long road through parenthood has always given us valuable lived experiences to share with those following in our footsteps. 

We asked parents, without any other pre-text other than I was planning to reflect on where I was three years ago on my parenthood journey, “if you met yourself three years ago – what parenting advice would you share?”

What Parents Told Us They Would Tell Themselves About The Road Ahead

All you can do is the best you can with the tools you have. If they have a smile on their face and a full belly that’s a win itself.

Makita Cotto

Looking back in time, it’s easy to remember who I was as a parent. Reflection is a great tool, not for regret… but to learn the lessons that can be applied now and forward. Three years ago, I was a different parent. I just came out of homelessness and was struggling with depression, bi-polar disorder, alcoholism and finances. I did the best I could to shield my son from all my shortcomings, but as we all know, kids are sponges to what we project. He knew there was stuff going on. Somehow, through all the layers of junk I was dealing with, he remained my number one priority; I kept up with visitations, made sure his education continued, and gave him my full attention.

If I could travel back and talk to this earlier version of myself, I would have shared my current strengths, wisdom, and instilled the power of abundance the universe delivers. I would have said this; 

‘The who you are now will not be the who you are going to be in the future. You WILL manage your bi-polar disorder and depression. You WILL quit alcohol and embrace the strength of strangers who love you. You WILL inspire others with your successes and become an amazing role model to your child as your dreams become reality.’

anonymous

The parenting advice that I would give myself would be, that it’s important to do self care. If we want to be happy parents, we have to be happy with ourselves. The things you don’t get done today, will still be there tomorrow, so just relax! To celebrate the small things and also to not sweat the small stuff. We only have this one life and our kids will only be this little for a short time.

Toni Miner

Work on healing your inner wounds and traumas. Our kids are our greatest teachers and mirror what we need to heal within ourselves.

Alison Knight

My best advice that I give (and need to be reminded of) is: don’t take credit when your kids excel and don’t blame yourself when they don’t. We are not responsible for the choices our children make. We are here to guide them, but each child is an individual and will make a path that suits them.

Jill McIntire Green

There will be wonderful joyous days and hard exhausting days… and minutes. Embrace the joyous ones, breathe through the hard ones, practice gratitude, and hold on to your optimism.

Jade Woodard

You will be a better mother, if you don’t lose yourself in motherhood.

Tara Petersen

Work life balance is a myth it ebbs and flows.

Lisa Kjeseth

Each piece of advice is valuable and likely resonates with every parent reading this article. And so, let this serve as a reminder to you to share your pearls of wisdom with others to, at least, let other parents know they are not alone in their self-doubt, stresses or challenges.

Parenting Advice to Past Me 

As I outreached to other parents I promised to share my own advice to the mom I was three years ago when my daughter was little over a year old and my son was three; and I was working through depression. My mom died from Cancer two months after my daughter was born and the swirl of postpartum emotions and hormones, coupled with grief and loss, still had a pretty strong hold over me. When I set out to write this inspirational column I wasn’t sure what words of wisdom I had to share with myself during that time, but after reading everyone’s varying perspectives it is this: 

Talk to other moms. Make friends. Remember to ask for advice because their perspectives are amazing and insightful. And, above all else, ACCEPT help. You will need it to get through the days and years ahead, but I promise you, you will still be standing. And, as a friend recently told me, ‘if they have a smile on their face and a full belly that’s a win.’

Katie Facchinello

Not Everyone is Having a Happy Mother’s Day

Having struggled through infertility for many years and now having lost my mom, it seems like I’ve experienced more bad Mother’s Days than good. So, a word of advice: if you are having a Happy Mother’s Day with your mom or taking the time to celebrate with your kids, remember to see and comfort those who are planning to pull the covers over their heads and let it pass. 

Thousands of parents in Colorado whose children are growing up in foster care are doing their best to make it possible for their kids to come home. Love doesn’t disappear because mental health struggles, substance use disorders or whatever other significant challenges helped make home unsafe exist. It’s still a hard day. The same can be said for their children. No matter what trauma a child may have endured, it is natural to want love from your parents and to want to be together. This day is hard for them too. We are thankful for the foster parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles, and single parents who may feel unseen on this day of celebration. Thank you for strengthening your families. Your kids may, or may not, thank you for it, but Illuminate Colorado is grateful to you for helping to create a Colorado where all children and families thrive. 

To Future Us

Every year there are more than 61,000 babies born in Colorado.1 Those first days and months are full of joy and stress for every family. If you are celebrating someone in your life that is about to become a parent this Mother’s Day, let this be a reminder to make sure you are up to date on what safe sleep looks like at home and everywhere babies sleep.

When you walk into any store to buy something for a new baby on the way, you may assume that the products on the shelves are safe, but those who’ve spent some time learning about safe sleep recommendations and guidelines know that isn’t the case when it comes to infant sleep products. Thankfully, beginning in mid-2022, any product intended or marketed for infant sleep must meet a federal safety standard.

Of course, recalls and safety guidance aren’t the only thing new parents have to know, so, I’m passing along a word of advice that one of the parents we outreached to for this column recently shared with a friend.

A letter to My Dear (pregnant) Friend, 

Happy Mother’s Day.This day is very special for you and your little one. You will soon find out why our moms love us so much. There is no kind of love that can equal or surpass it. 

I never envisioned loving anyone more than my cat. I never knew it was possible to love another person so much. 

Some advice:

1) Get as much rest as you can now.

2) Enjoy your personal space, like having a daydream or a private thought.

3) Remember what your life is like now. You will soon look back and realize how simple it was.

4) Enjoy small stuff like bathing alone or going to the bathroom in a restaurant (which will soon be very complicated).

5) Savor the romance, travel… and sex (you will understand what I mean).

6). Enjoy reading as many adult books as you can now; because your next chance won’t be until  they go off to college. 

Being a mom is the most precious blessing in life. I can’t wait for you to join the club.

Eliza Sultan

About the Author

About the Author

Katie is the proud mother of two children, four and six,  sharing her lived experiences so that children and families can grow and thrive together. As the Director of Communications for Illuminate Colorado, she specializes in the development of strategic communications plans related to the field of child welfare, child abuse prevention, and the use of evidence-based communications aimed at improving the well-being of children and strengthening families in the State of Colorado.

Parents’ Stories a Focus of the Campaign to Grow a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together

Parents’ Stories a Focus of the Campaign to Grow a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together

Nearly one hundred people gathered on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol to promote positive childhood experiences and listen to parents share their experiences in recognition of child abuse prevention month. The event is the first of many activities happening throughout the nation, and Colorado, as part of the month-long Pinwheels for Prevention® campaign to Grow a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together.  

“Every one of the more than 1.2 million children in Colorado today deserve to be valued, healthy and thriving, including the children in my community. And, every day, we each help positive childhood experiences take root,” said Beverley Besha Moore, emcee for the event and board member of Illuminate Colorado (Illuminate), the statewide nonprofit organizing this annual grassroots effort to raise awareness during child abuse prevention month. As the Colorado Chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America, the organization leads the national Pinwheels for Prevention® Campaign in Colorado which has grown exponentially over the years, giving away more than 40,000 FREE pinwheels last year as many families were under significant stress doing their best to parent during a pandemic.

2022 Colorado Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign Launch Event

Thank you to all the partners, parents and kids that joined us at the Colorado State Capitol! What a great start to Child Abuse Prevention Month!
VIEW PHOTO ALBUM

A leading champion for all children in the United States, Prevent Child Abuse America is the nation’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect. Prevent Child Abuse America experts develop innovative, evidence-based prevention strategies, raise public awareness, and advocate for family-friendly policies and programs at the national, state, and local levels to ensure that all children and families get what they need to thrive. “Research shows that positive childhood experiences grow thriving families and communities,” explained Dr. Melissa Merrick, president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America. “This is the moment to build a child and family well-being system that propels families to grow and thrive together. Please consider joining us to ensure safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments are cultivated to enable children, families, and entire communities to succeed – today and for generations to come.” 

As a mom to seven kids myself, two by adoption and five by birth, I know that no parent can do this alone. All parents need support from their community to raise their kids—it truly does take a village. And while all families need support, some families do experience social, economic and environmental inequities more than others and this explains why children of color experience significant disparities in child well-being.” said Besha Moore. As an African American mother, I’ve experienced first-hand the struggle of wanting to ask for help but being fearful that I would be looked at differently or treated differently because I’m African American. We can all help by proactively calling out inequity and injustice and working to create the conditions for safe, stable and nurturing spaces. All children and families thrive when communities focus on addressing root causes that lead to health and social inequities. We all need to know how to strengthen the family next door.”

This year, Illuminate is giving away 10 Free pinwheels to anyone interested in getting more involved and asking all Coloradans to pledge to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together. “When parents, caregivers, family, friends, neighbors, employers and elected leaders work together to increase five critical protective factors in families’ lives that is when we can prevent child abuse, strengthen families and build brighter childhoods,” continued Besha Moore.

Every one of the more than 1.2 million children in Colorado today deserve to be valued, healthy and thriving, including the children in my community. And, every day, we each help positive childhood experiences take root.

Beverley Besha Moore

Board Member, Illuminate Colorado

Conditions in communities where people live, learn, work and play affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes – including child abuse and neglect – a serious problem affecting every segment of our community. The occasion focused on effective community-based solutions including home visiting, homeless shelters, family resource centers and other local community supports that support all families thereby reducing the likelihood of child maltreatment.  In October 2018, I experienced every parents worst nightmare; my three and a half year-old son pasted away. After that tragedy, I was offered a whirlwind of supportive services, counseling, classes, family and friends coming to offer support. Every single one played a part in my healing process. What I found most life-altering was my home visiting program,” shared Alexa Chenoweth, a mother of two girls under the age of four from Rifle, Colorado. 

Another father opened up about his journey through parenthood having experienced homelessness. “I never thought I would ever become homeless until it happened. A number of events led me to a point in my life where I needed to find a temporary home so that I could start working to rebuild my life from the ground up and continue to support my basic needs and be there for my son,” said Dave Ehlert the Colorado Springs father of a nine year-old boy.  “Parenting isn’t always easy. There’s no book to follow on how to be a perfect parent and it can be difficult at times. The good news is there’s so many resources in all of our communities that are reaching out to us to provide services, programs and support as we navigate our parental journey.”

 

In addition to the more than 50 campaign partners displaying pinwheels in April as a show of support for the prevention of child maltreatment, promoting the campaign messaging on social media using #GrowingBetterTogether, and encouraging Coloradans to take part in the campaign; campaign sponsors including the presenting sponsor SafeCare Colorado of Colorado’s Office of Early Childhood, and organizing sponsor Colorado’s Office of Children, Youth & Families and media sponsor Colorado Parent, also supported the event.

As added incentive to make a commitment to strengthening families this month, one person who takes the pledge to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together will be selected at the end of the month to win an opportunity to choose a Colorado nonprofit, school or child care organization to receive a $2,500 grant, thanks in large part to the campaign sponsor Colorado Child Welfare Scholars Consortium, part of a statewide effort to invest in the education of selected students in order to attract qualified social work professionals into the field of public child welfare services in Colorado.  For more ways you can to strengthen families and take the pledge to Grow a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together and learn more about child abuse and neglect prevention and activities happening around the state all-month long, visit COPinwheelsForPrevention.org

Following a message from Governor Jared Polis, Minna Castillo Cohen, director of the Office of Children, Youth and Families, and Mary Alice Cohen, director of the Office of Early Childhood from the Colorado Department of Human Services addressed the crowd to thank the thousands of professionals, parents and caregivers who have strengthen families throughout the pandemic. “I’ve seen amazing collaboration happen with partners across the state throughout this pandemic to take care of families in their communities and ensure they have what they need to be successful and help their kids grow up healthy, strong and ready for school,” said Castillo Cohen. “We know that when families are connected and have access to concrete support in their communities, child maltreatment can be prevented. It truly takes all of us to ensure every child has the opportunity to thrive.”

“The last two years have been so challenging for children and their families. I know many of you have first hand experience with this,” shared Cohen. “Our routines and our support systems were changed abruptly. In the Office of Early Childhood we were heartened to see the creativity and resilience all of our partners showed to ensure the youngest Coloradans continued to thrive; yet we also recognized the significant needs families faced, and continue to face.”

The event ended on a heartfelt note with Besha Moore share a personal story after reflection on the work going on inside the Capitol. “You see, I was a teen mom. When he was just three and half years old. At that time, I was handling the financial struggles of being a single mom. I found myself in a position when I was wondering do I purchase diapers or purchase sanitary items that I needed. And of course, the diapers won. So I swallowed my pride and I did whatever was needed. But, just imagine if there was such a thing as not having a tax on diapers back then,” shared Besha Moore referencing a bill Colorado lawmakers are working on this legislative session to make essential items, like period products and diapers, more affordable.  “That definitely could have helped me. And If I had really felt confident about these wonderful services that we have here in Colorado, if those things were made available to me, I definitely would have taken them.” 

Growing a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together

Every one of the more than 1.2 million children in Colorado today deserve to be valued, healthy and thriving, including the children in your community.

Take the pledge to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together. 

Show your support for strengthening families in Colorado and take the pledge to build protective factors and prevent child abuse in your community.

Get Your 10 FREE Pinwheels

Illuminate Colorado, a statewide nonprofit working to strengthen families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment, is giving away 10 FREE Pinwheels for Prevention® to Coloradans to inspire our communities to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together.

>>Interested in getting more involved or sharing your lived experiences?

Parents: It’s Time to Talk About Strengthening Our Families

Parents: It’s Time to Talk About Strengthening Our Families

For more than ten years now, you may have seen gardens of pinwheels planted at your child’s school, day care or a local hospital or nonprofit organization, and wondered, why? It’s because pinwheels are the national symbol for child abuse prevention meant to start a conversation about how to strengthen families. 

“What research has shown, and what our experiences have borne out, is that people respond to the pinwheel. Child abuse is a hard topic for most people to think about, let alone talk about. By its very nature, the pinwheel reminds us all of the bright childhoods we want for all children,” said Jade Woodard, executive director of Illuminate Colorado, the statewide nonprofit organizing this annual grassroots effort to raise awareness during child abuse prevention month. As the Colorado Chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America, the organization leads the national Pinwheels for Prevention® Campaign in Colorado which has grown exponentially over the years, giving away more than 40,000 FREE pinwheels last year as many families were under significant stress doing their best to parent during a pandemic. 


“Families get overloaded with stress when facing significant challenges like unemployment, substance misuse or mental health struggles, making it incredibly hard to parent and keep your child safe. That’s when kids are at greater risk for abuse or neglect. Just like a truck carrying too much weight, they can’t move forward. But when other parents, friends, family, employers, neighbors, community organizations and even elected officials increase protective factors around families, then we lighten the load. That’s how we prevent child abuse and strengthen families,” continued Woodard. “We are encouraging Colorado communities to have a conversation about helping families upstream- reducing stress on parents and building resources and systems that work together to help us raise our families. Every one of the more than 1.2 million children in Colorado today deserve to be valued, healthy and thriving.” 

Locations where pinwheels tend to sprout up are usually: 

  • organizations that are working every day with young children like elementary schools, child care centers and home visiting programs; 
  • organizations that recognize their role in strengthening families like family resource centers, medical offices and hospitals; 
  • businesses supportive of family-friendly work environments and the children and families in their communities;  and, of course,
  • nonprofit and human services agencies doing the incredibly hard job of helping children and families heal from child maltreatment. 

This year, many of those same organizations are doing more to empower parents who are passionate about making sure their neighborhood protects children and strengthens families. On April 1st, parents are joining Colorado legislators and representatives from more than 50 campaign partners to gather on the West steps of the Colorado State Capitol at 11:00 am to promote positive childhood experiences and launch a month-long campaign to Grow a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together

Organizers plan to share more about ways to show your support and earn a $2,500 grant for your favorite Colorado nonprofit, school or child care provider at the event. Illuminate is also giving away 10 FREE pinwheels to anyone who wants to get more involved and join this movement. You can order your free pinwheels online at COPinwheelsForPrevention.org or stop by the public family-friendly campaign launch event to pick up your pinwheels. Each pinwheel comes with a small greeting card to give to someone else or display to help inspire other people in your community to learn more about how we can strengthen families.

Five Way to Use Pinwheels for Prevention®

Display your pinwheels in a pot in your front yard or window to show your support and get people talking about strengthening families.

Organize a pinwheel parade in your neighborhood, school or child care center.

Give your pinwheels to a child you care about along with the Pinwheels for Prevention® coloring sheet, available in the campaign community activity guide

Ask your favorite restaurants, pediatrician and dentist offices to display a small bouquet of pinwheels at the front desk to let customers know they support children and families in the community.

Leave one pinwheel on the doorstep of 10 of your neighbor’s homes to build the movement or say “thank you for keeping me strong.”

“We’ve done this for many, many years in person at the Capitol with our pinwheels and we are so excited to be back together in person for the first time since 2019. We definitely did our best virtually during the pandemic, but it is just nothing like the energy that we get when we are all together at the Capitol to launch Child Abuse Prevention Month,” continued Woodard.

Five Ways to Build Stronger Families

Protective factors are conditions or attributes in individuals, families, communities or the larger society that help people deal more effectively with stressful events and mitigate or eliminate risk in families and communities. Protective factors help buffer from the negative consequences of exposure to risks by either reducing the impact of the risk or changing the way a person responds to the risk. Consequently, enhancing protective factors can reduce the likelihood of problem behaviors arising.

Research by the Center for the Study of Social Policy has shown five protective factors increase family strengths, enhance child development and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. Throughout the month of April, campaign partners will be highlighting ways parents, employers and community members can build the following protective factors to strengthen families.

1 – Be Strong in the Face of Stress – Build Parental Resilience 

Resilience is managing stress and dealing with your life, even when things get difficult.

Right now, stress is HIGH. You’ve likely felt a little short-temper, yelled or not been your best-self at moments. Everyone needs to practice self-care right now, especially parents. Take care of yourself, to take care of your kids. Share a mindfulness or stress management tip, encourage others parents to give themselves permission to not be perfect.

2 – Connecting With Other People Matters – Build Social Connections

Having a network of friends and family helps us feel secure, confident and empowered. Accept help from others and look for opportunities to give back. Reach out to others, talk about what is going on in your life. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel. Focus on nurturing relationships where you feel respected and appreciated.

3 – Grow Your Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development – Build Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

There is no perfect parent, but knowing what to expect does make the job easier. Discover what to expect as your child grows. Try new skills and tips to help your child progress and thrive. Pause to understand why your child is acting out and respond in a positive, nurturing, and developmentally appropriate way.

4 – Every Parent Needs Support Sometimes – Build Concrete Support in Times of Need

Some problems are too big to solve alone. Knowing where to get help in the community can make life easier. Know what help is available in your community. Make a plan for what programs you might need if you were faced with unemployment or severe illness. Reach out and ask for support when needed. Share your story with others about programs and resources that have helped you along the way.

5 – Help Your Child Manage Feelings and Relationships – Build Social and Emotional Competence of Children

Help children develop skills so they can manage their emotions and build healthy relationships with their peers and adults. Respond warmly and consistently to your child. Allow your child to express their emotions. Model how to be kind and interact positively with others.

Most parents, including those known to child protection, are truly doing the best they can and want to do well by their children. All families need help sometimes. Some are overburdened and close to breaking points as they struggle with child care and work, the threat of unemployment, food or housing insecurities, and other intense pressures. Creating better outcomes for children starts with ensuring families are supported and strengthened when they need help – rather than penalized. 

The Colorado Department of Human Services recently reported that calls to the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline, 844-CO-4-Kids (844.264.5437), have rebounded after a significant drop during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Most of the calls that come into the hotline are really around a parent’s lack of resources, so, one of the ways that we can really support families is by making sure that we are connecting them to those resources -those concrete supports that families need,” said Minna Castillo Cohen, director of the Colorado Office of Children, Youth and Families, one of three organizing sponsors of the campaign. 

“I am very excited about the campaign because it gives us an opportunity to work outside of our child protection system and really talk about human services, so instead of child welfare, thinking about child well-being,” said Castillo Cohen. “ I just really hope that people put out the pinwheels in their yard, encourage their elementary schools and the businesses in their own communities to get involved and recognize strong employees who have families are even stronger when they have a support network,” said Castillo Cohen.

“I am very excited about the campaign because it gives us an opportunity to work outside of our child protection system and really talk about human services, so instead of child welfare, thinking about child well-being,” said Castillo Cohen. “ I just really hope that people put out the pinwheels in their yard, encourage their elementary schools and the businesses in their own communities to get involved and recognize strong employees who have families are even stronger when they have a support network,” said Castillo Cohen. 

Ways to Get Involved

Join Together on April 1

You can promote positive childhood experiences and preventing adversity by wearing blue on April 1 – National Wear Blue Day – and share your picture online letting others know you support #GrowingBetterTogether. 

Colorado Campaign Launch to Grow a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together
April 1 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Colorado State Capitol West Steps
200 E Colfax Ave., Denver, CO 80203

RSVP to let campaign organizers know you plan to support the cause and help the campaign get off to a strong start. 

Come down to the Capitol to meet other parents passionate about making sure their neighborhood protects children and strengthens families. Be the first to learn more about how you can WIN a $2,500 grant for your favorite Colorado nonprofit, school or child care provider! 

Organize Your People

Become a campaign partner, download the campaign community activity guide and encourage your friends, other parents and your child’s school or day care to order their FREE 10 Pinwheels. 

Join the Movement

Follow #GrowingBetterTogether to connect to the movement in your community and tag us on Illuminate on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to show you support. 

Meeting Parents Where They Are – Bringing Child Care with Us

Meeting Parents Where They Are – Bringing Child Care with Us

Before any parent goes back to work, gets into treatment or tries to tackle any one of life’s challenges that may take them away from their child, they need to find child care. It’s a problem all parents can relate to, but solutions depend entirely on what access to child care looks like in your community.

Options for all families in Colorado will look very different by the fall of 2023 when the new Colorado Department of Early Childhood Education rolls out the voluntary universal preschool program. Two years from now, families with 4-year-olds will have access to 10 hours of childcare per week through community-based centers, a program in a family’s home, a local Head Start program or a school-based provider. Senator Janet Buckner, one of the sponsors of a bill to implement the program shared with CPR News that “[t]he legislation talks about 10 hours but for low income students, they’re going to get additional hours.”

Reports also indicated that the voluntary universal preschool program is estimated to save families about $4,300 a year. That’s great news for all families, but the child care crisis isn’t just impacting families, it’s impacting everyone and every part of society. In particular, it’s impacting local behavioral health providers and community-based nonprofits’ ability to address some of Colorado’s most complex issues like substance misuse and poverty. Those agencies are getting creative when it comes to increasing access to child care for their clients.

Mile High Behavioral Healthcare provides a continuum of behavioral healthcare —offering affordable care and housing services with focused programs to help adults and young people address life challenges – offering hope for individuals on a journey of recovery—recovery from trauma, substance use and mental health challenges and homelessness. “We are really trying to expand and do things from a family lens, compared to just the identified patient,” said Jessica Courtney, chief clinical officer for Mile High Behavioral Healthcare. 

Listen to Raven’s Miracle Story

HONEY Serves the Denver Metro Area

The organization is one of several organizations utilizing Honey, the Illuminating Child Care on-site child care classroom visiting locations in the Denver Metro Area, to increase access to child care for their clients. Courtney estimates that 95% of the women in the Miracles program engaged in treatment related to substance misuse and mental health challenges have children. The program offers traditional and enhanced outpatient programming to meet the individual needs of the women. Classes include life skills, job readiness, parenting, healthy relationships, cooking, yoga, and quilting to support sobriety and recovery.

“Our belief is that the opposite of addiction is connection. Sobriety is fine, but that’s not living. Most of our clients don’t know how to live, they didn’t grow up with trusted adults in their lives. Our clients average an ACEs score of more than seven.” The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) score is a guideline used to measure childhood trauma including physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect developed in the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. This pivotal study also highlighted the negative–and often lasting–effects childhood trauma can have on health, well-being and opportunity which Miracles’ moms are working to overcome.

The Miracles program lasts all day, every day. And, while the program loves babies, parenting while trying to engage in treatment and recovery comes with some unique challenges. “Babies need time to be away from the high stimulation that is going on with the women talking, doing group or eating together. If a baby is fussy or difficult, it really disrupts the group, and, if a baby is calm and cute, it also disrupts the group,” explained Courtney. “At the same time, we know the importance of a mom being with her kid and learning skills to regulate herself while her baby is dysregulated, all of that is super important. Illuminating Child Care seemed like a natural fit. Having something on site, that they can easily access and run out [of the building] if something major happens, is a really comforting thing.”

The partnership between Mile High Behavioral Healthcare is a great example of multi-generational child maltreatment prevention. “It is nice to have access to [the Illuminating Child Care] team looking out for missed developmental milestones. They have access to different resources than we do and even bring a pediatrician every now and then. When we’re decreasing maternal stress and increasing the maternal community, then we are also decreasing a baby’s future ACEs scores. We’re catching it more upstream,” shared Courtney.

CrossPurpose is also partnering with Illuminate Colorado to increase access to child care for their clientele working to gain sustainable careers and get out of poverty for good. The Denver nonprofit is working to abolish relational, economic, and spiritual poverty through career and community development. Their core program offers six months of intensive classes, for four hours a day, focused on personal and professional development. 

Meet Mariah – A CrossPurpose Graduate

In addition to skills building and personal development for careers in the trades, construction, administration, customer services and medical fields, CrossPurpose also brings together allies, or community volunteers, and alumni to network and build community. “Once a week, we utilize Honey when we have everyone come together – doctors, business owners, retired professionals – a dynamic mix of people from our community, with current students, to network, have a meal, talk about what is going well and what is not going well and offering a couple hours of alleviated stress while our students are in the program,” said Sianna Gomez, director of a new Fellowship Cohort for Alumni at CrossPurpose. 

“Honey takes child care out of the equation for that weekly dinner. One of the other things we are looking to tap into is Illuminate’s navigation services to help our parents find more services, including quality-rated child care services,” said Gomez. “Access to child care is not easy right now. If a parent has two to three children and is a single mom – and we get that all the time – it’s common to take an hour and a half to drop off each kiddo at three different locations since more access to child care isn’t available closer to her, and then we expect her to potentially get a job or to come to training when she doesn’t even have a car to get to those places either. Child care is a barrier to getting a full-time job, and in the grand scheme of things it’s a barrier to getting out of poverty. We have to find creative solutions to help parents find child care close to their job, or they run the risk of losing their job in the future.” 

While many local behavioral health providers and community-based nonprofits have seen people less willing to come back to their brick and mortar locations for services, child care remains among the most important barriers to remove to bring them back. “It’s a super important partnership to have, even if it isn’t totally utilized, everyone knows when Honey comes. Our folks are so distrusting of everybody because people have told them they are terrible for so long. By showing them that another person can be safe, another agency has their best interest in mind, we are growing their community, decreasing barriers to coming to treatment,” said Courtney. “So often facilities focus on the adults, they get a little scared of the children. [Illuminating Child Care] relieves some stress that the provider doesn’t have to do it all, there is a partner that is specializing in this, you can be that connecting person to help make it safe for them to trust somebody else. Our clients are the kids that got missed. Partnering together we’re teaching them that there are systems in place to help them and their children succeed.”

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Parents: It’s Time to Talk About Strengthening Our Families

Parents: It’s Time to Talk About Strengthening Our Families

For more than ten years now, you may have seen gardens of pinwheels planted at your child’s school, day care or a local hospital or nonprofit organization, and wondered, why? It’s because pinwheels are the national symbol for child abuse prevention meant to start a...

Less than half of parents in Colorado aren’t doing this one thing that could protect their children from experiencing sexual abuse.

Less than half of parents in Colorado aren’t doing this one thing that could protect their children from experiencing sexual abuse.

“Today on 9news Mornings, we tackled a tough topic– one that makes many parents– and kids– uncomfortable yet one that desperately needs to be talked about: child sexual abuse,” said 9news anchor Corey Rose in her post in the 9news It Takes a Village Facebook Group following the story talking with Illuminate Colorado and a brave parent who volunteered to speak from experience to help prevent child sexual abuse. The It Takes a Village regular segments focus on news important for people parenting in Colorado. It is estimated that one in ten children will be sexually abused before the age of eighteen and up to 70% of children do not report it in the first year.  

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Deborah Freedman, a single mother of three girls, volunteered to talk with 9news about how she first learned about the importance of talking child sexual abuse prevention at home. “When my kids were in preschool, the preschool brought in a parent educator, [I] learned to just prevent sexual assult, calling body parts by their real names made a huge difference,” Freedman said.     

Awareness Makes a Difference

“We know that using anatomically correct terms is a protective factor. It protects children against child sexual abuse,” said Anne Auld director of education for Illuminate Colorado. When parents were informed of this fact as part of a public opinion survey conducted by Illuminate it made a big difference resulting in 71% of parents were willing to use anatomically correct language once they learned it was protective. According to the Illuminate study providing insight and recommendations for preventing child sexual abuse in Colorado, less than half of parents in Colorado (47%) say they typically use anatomically correct terms. 

Let's Talk Child Sexual Abuse Prevention

This one change can make a world of difference for several reasons: 

  • The language we use at the earliest of ages promotes positive body image, self-confidence and parent-child communication, all important factors to preventing child sexual abuse. 
  • The use of anatomically correct terms also discourages offenders.
  • In the event of abuse, anatomically correct terms help children and adults navigate the disclosure and forensic interview process. 

“If there is a child that is talking about something that happened, we may not understand exactly what they are talking about. This is my knee. This is my elbow. If I am using other words instead of knee and elbow, why? Is there something shameful about these body parts?” said Auld during the interview with 9news. 

“There are things that we can do, like using anatomically correct language, which feels uncomfortable at first, but the more times you say penis and vagina the less interesting those words become, just like knee and elbow. If we can get used to saying those words, if we can overcome our fears, and our this just feels weird feelings, we are enabling generations after us to have less risk in their lives around abuse,” continued Auld. 

It’s an important time of year to be thinking about protecting your kids from sexual abuse, given that that many families are coming together to celebrate the holidays. It is those in a position of trust that most often victimize children – 90% of children who experience sexual abuse know their abuser, 40% of those children are abuse by another youth. 

Resources to support prevention and healing from sexual abuse:

Tip Colorado

More than 80 local authorized facilitators throughout Colorado are working to empower adults to protect children in every community in Colorado from experiencing child sexual abuse through the Tip Colorado Initiative launched in 2020. If enough adults in a community, including parents, take a FREE two-hour interactive online training offered weekly then, together, we can reach a tipping point in Colorado where children grow up happy, healthy and safe in communities that prevent children from experiencing sexual abuse. Visit TipColorado.org to sign up to be a part of reaching a tipping point to create new standards of child safety in your community.

New Research Provides Insight and Recommendations for Preventing Child Sexual Abuse

Creating a Colorado Where Children Grow Up Free From Sexual Abuse: An Issue Brief on the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse in Colorado examines data and trends related to child sexual abuse in Colorado, highlights efforts to prevent this trauma and presents recommendations to advance prevention statewide. Download the issue brief

Healing For Survivors

If you are looking for a network of supporters to aid in your healing process, WINGS supports adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse to live their fullest, healthiest lives as they speak about, heal from, and thrive beyond CSA trauma. Visit www.wingsfound.org to find therapeutic support and connect to other survivors. 

Report a Concern

If you are concerned that a child is experiencing sexual abuse, call 844-CO-4-Kids (844‑264‑5437)

Available 24 hours a day, every day. Don’t hesitate to call and get help.

Anyone witnessing a child in a life-threatening situation should call 911 immediately.

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