Illuminate Partners with Head Start to Support Strength Based Conversations Related to Substance Use

Illuminate Partners with Head Start to Support Strength Based Conversations Related to Substance Use

Many families struggle, often in private, with substance use. But beginning a conversation around substance use with any family can often feel uncomfortable and awkward, even for professionals who work with children and families every day, like home visitors and early child care professionals. 

When families can feel safe to talk about substance use in a non-judgmental and hopeful way, the relationship between a professional dedicating their career to supporting families and any parent can be strengthened, and children are ultimately safer for it. 

That is why, in 2017, Illuminate Colorado developed the Smart Choices Safe Kids Conversation Guide for Professionals to learn how to incorporate topics like substance use and safe storage into everyday conversations with families. Since then, Illuminate has trained over 600 professionals across Colorado to have strength based conversations with families and distributed more than 8,000 safe storage bags making their way into the hands of Colorado families.

The strength based conversations promote a multi-generational approach, encouraging professionals to think critically about substance use and substance use disorders, as each family is unique. The training includes a “Conversation Guide” of scripts for professionals to use as guidelines to start and continue conversations on safe homes, safe caregiving and child & family well-being, at every age and stage of life. 

“The key to a successful conversation is to avoid judgment, stigma, and bias – actively listening and engaging with the family you are working with. All families want the best for their children and have hopes and dreams for their children’s futures.” Jason Read M.Ed., education and training program manager with Illuminate Colorado. “Using substances, whether legal, illegal, or prescribed, doesn’t change how much parents care about their children, but it may impact their ability to do what is best for them.”

In addition to receiving tips, techniques and strategies to help keep kids safe and families healthy, professionals leave the training with Smart Choices Safe Kids brochures for people parenting in English and Spanish and safe storage bags to share with families. With the brochure inside of the bags, professionals have a tool to universally share with families to continue conversations around safety in the home. 

Taking the Conversation Guide training has provided our staff with the language and strategies to have difficult conversations with the families we support,” shared Sherry Price, deputy director of Hilltop Family Resource Center one of many organizations that have encouraged their staff to take the Conversation Guide training. “Giving safe storage bags to families has been a life-saver in promoting a safe home and reducing risk of children accidentally ingesting harmful substances such as prescriptions, legal substances and poisonings.”

Many home visitors already talk about where the cleaning products are stored, or keeping certain items out of reach of small children. Now they can incorporate the bag into a conversation about safety, and talk about what other items could be stored in the locking bag, like medications, edibles or paraphernalia, for example. 

And in 2021, in addition to supporting Colorado professionals, Illuminate is set to begin training Head Start staff across the country to use this Conversation Guide for Professionals, in partnership with the National Center of Health, Behavioral Health and Safety (NCHBHS), under the Office of Head Start, an Office of the Administration for Children & Families. Collaborating with NCHBHS in this way puts Illuminate in the company of some extraordinary national leaders in child development. Other partners in the NCHBHS include: Sesame Workshop, Child Trends, Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development and Child Trauma Research Program, to name just a few.

“This is an exciting endeavor to help build knowledge and comfort in having conversations with families about substances and substance use all across the country,” said Anne Auld director of education for Illuminate Colorado“Over the course of the next five years, we will not only train Head Start staff across the nation, we will also create a Train the Trainer model to ensure organizations have ongoing access to this training and increased organizational capacity to strengthen families and their own communities. That’s how we create transformation change.” 

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Learn more about the Smart Choices Safe Kids and the Conversation Guide for Professionals.

Illuminating Policy to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

Illuminating Policy to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

Policy plays a key role in the prevention of child sexual abuse by ensuring adequate funding and modernization of state statutes to protect kids, as well as promoting healing and preventing future harm when abuse has occurred. In addition to educating and empowering adults, Illuminate Colorado is working to ensure that every child grows up healthy and free from sexual abuse by collaborating through the Colorado Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Coalition and advocating during the 2021 Colorado legislative session on several bipartisan bills progressing at the state capitol related to child sexual abuse prevention. 

Just last week, Illuminate joined the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault and many survivors in testifying in support of SB21-73 before the Senate Health & Human Services Committee. Thankfully, the bill passed committee, as well as third reading on the Senate floor, unanimously.

SB21-73 Civil Action Statute of Limitations for Sexual Assault eliminates the civil statute of limitations for sexual assault allows child and adult survivors time to heal so that they may access the civil legal system and monetary resources necessary to rebuild their lives after surviving sexual abuse. 

National experts estimate that approximately 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. (1)  Over the last five years, the number of children in Colorado experiencing sexual abuse has steadily risen with seven percent of the 286,534 allegations of child maltreatment involving concerns of sexual abuse. With support from professionals in the child welfare and child advocacy centers and law enforcement, as well as other trusted adults in a child’s life, 27 percent of these concerns of child sexual abuse were confirmed. (2) However, almost 73 percent of child victims don’t disclose to anyone for at least a year, 45 percent don’t tell anyone for almost five years and, sadly, many never disclose at all. (3)

The resources included with this bill were needed before the COVID-19 pandemic to support survivors of child sexual abuse thriving in adulthood given that adult survivors of child sexual abuse are nearly three times as likely to report substance misuse, and are also more likely to be impacted by mental health issues. (4) They are especially needed now given the social isolation and increased stressors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic that everyone has experienced.

Review the 2021 Policy Agenda

Download the 2021 Illuminating Policy Agenda with key highlighting specific protective factors each policy builds in Colorado.

Use the Illuminate Colorado Bill Tracker to stay up to date on the progression of SB21-73 and other bills this session related to child sexual abuse prevention including:

SB21-017 Sexual Contact By An Educator which specifically addresses the abuse of public trust by an educator, and enforces that sexual relationships between a student and a teacher or coach are inappropriate, even once a student turns eighteen years old.

HB21-1069 Enforcement Of Sexual Exploitation Of A Child modernizing criminal statute regarding child sexual exploitation to reflect access and viewing due to evolving technology, including accounting for livestreaming platforms.

Register today for the 10th annual Speak Up for Kids Day (not) at the Capitol!

Illuminate encourages everyone to participate in Colorado’s Annual Speak up for Kids Day on Thursday, March 18, 2021 from 8:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m.

It is essential for elected officials and policy makers to understand how to prevent child maltreatment and listen to parents in every community.

This year’s event will be hosted virtually, yet still filled with tips and training on advocacy and lobbying skills, strategizing and role-playing for talking to lawmakers, opportunities to hear about key issues for kids and families, and more. Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Children’s Campaign and Clayton Early Learning are hosting the event.

Register at www.bit.ly/2021speakup and email advocacy@childrenscolorado.org with any questions.

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Stay up to date on policy that prevents child maltreatment and the 2021 Illuminating Policy Agenda by subscribing to Illuminate’s blog.

Citations

1) Townsend, C. & Rheingold, A.A. (2013). Estimating a child sexual abuse prevalence rate for practitioners: A review of child sexual abuse prevalence studies. Charleston, S.C., Darkness to Light. Retrieved from www.D2L.org.

2) Colorado Department of Human Services, Types of Allegations of Maltreatment Report Time Period: January 1, 2015 – December 31, 2019. (2020). Retrieved from CDHSDataMatters.org https://rom.socwel.ku.edu/CO_Public/Login.aspx?H=7061.

3) Joshua J. Broman-Fulks, Kenneth J. Ruggiero, Rochelle F. Hanson, Daniel W. Smith, Heidi S. Resnick, Dean G. Kilpatrick & Benjamin E. Saunders (2007) Sexual Assault Disclosure in Relation to Adolescent Mental Health: Results from the National Survey of Adolescents, Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 36:2, 260-266, DOI: 10.1080/15374410701279701

4) CASA Columbia, “Family Matters”, 2005 Knight, Menard, & Simmons, 2014.

State of the State Includes Tax Credits Known to Reduce Child Maltreatment

State of the State Includes Tax Credits Known to Reduce Child Maltreatment

During the annual State of the State address last week, Gov. Jared Polis put forward a significant investment in hardworking Coloradans by proposing to “double the Earned Income Tax Credit, and provide up to $600 in tax credits per child for nearly 200,000 families in our state through the Colorado Child Tax Credit”. Creating communities where families are able to meet their basic needs like food, shelter, medical care and child care by strengthening household financial security is proven to reduce the risk factors for child abuse and neglect. 

In fact, according to a study released just last month by researchers from the University of Washington, Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) results in a significant drop in reported child maltreatment. Researchers found “a 10% increase in the benefit for low- to moderate-income working families, led to a 9% drop in the annual number of child neglect reports referred to child welfare agencies over a 14-year study period” as reported in The Imprint.

EITC and funding the Child Tax Credit (CTC) are among the many policy priorities on the Illuminating 2021 Policy Agenda which highlights policies that build one or more protective factors in Colorado. As the legislative session progresses, Illuminate is encouraging organizations, communities and policymakers to consider primary prevention strategies to ensure families have the foundations they need to thrive. These strategies build protective factors in all families to prevent child maltreatment before it occurs–including addressing systemic barriers to building protective factors across the population.  

Thankfully, there are also signs that Colorado policymakers are elevating and prioritizing the needs of children and families this legislative session as the pandemic continues to impact the daily lives of Coloradans. Over 200 bills were introduced on the first day that the legislature reconvened, with at least 25 bills related to child and family well-being. 

Review the 2021 Policy Agenda

Download the 2021 Illuminating Policy Agenda with key highlighting specific protective factors each policy builds in Colorado.

Illuminate created the Illuminate Colorado Bill Tracker to stay up to date on bills related to strengthening families and preventing child maltreatment. 

We look forward to continuing to support evidence-based policies and cost-saving investments, such as expanding the EITC and funding the Child Tax Credit (CTC) in 2021.

Register today for the 10th annual Speak Up for Kids Day (not) at the Capitol!

Illuminate encourages everyone to participate in Colorado’s Annual Speak up for Kids Day on Thursday, March 18, 2021 from 8:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m.

It is essential for elected officials and policy makers to understand how to prevent child maltreatment and listen to parents in every community.

This year’s event will be hosted virtually, yet still filled with tips and training on advocacy and lobbying skills, strategizing and role-playing for talking to lawmakers, opportunities to hear about key issues for kids and families, and more. Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Children’s Campaign and Clayton Early Learning are hosting the event.

Register at www.bit.ly/2021speakup and email advocacy@childrenscolorado.org with any questions.

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Stay up to date on policy that prevents child maltreatment and the 2021 Illuminating Policy Agenda by subscribing to Illuminate’s blog.

It’s Pinwheel Planting Season!

It’s Pinwheel Planting Season!

Every day, we help positive childhood experiences take root. Planting pinwheels represents the bright childhoods we all want for children. Since 2009, as the Colorado Chapter for Prevent Child Abuse America, Illuminate Colorado has lead an effort to distribute pinwheels throughout our state to raise awareness for the prevention of child abuse and strengthening families. 

And since the beginning of the Pinwheels for Prevention® Campaign in Colorado, our collective efforts have grown exponentially with hundreds of local organizations and individuals distributing more than fifty thousand pinwheels each year. It was an amazing effort, that is until last year. Just as we were getting started distributing pinwheels the pandemic hit Colorado and we have been storing approximately forty thousand pinwheels in our offices ever since.

And while life may have not returned to normal yet, we are not going to let that deter us from doing what our organization always does this time of year – get ready for child abuse prevention month in April. However, we also know we can’t rely on our tried and true strategy of connecting with community organizations, early childhood councils, human service agencies, advocates and schools to inspire their communities to strengthen families. Those folks are busy and STRESSED dedicating their careers to creating positive childhood experiences and supporting people parenting during this incredibly stressful time in all of our lives.

This year, we need to look to you – our friends, families and neighbors – to plant pinwheels in your front yards or neighborhoods as a symbol of support for the bright childhoods we all want for children. We know we need this reminder now more than ever. 

To that end, we are excited to announce that – for the first time thanks to the generous support of our Board of Directors and the philanthropic community- Illuminate Colorado is giving away 40,000 FREE Pinwheels for Prevention® to inspire ​Coloradans to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together. 

Pinwheels for Prevention® Giveaway!

Illuminate Colorado is giving away 40,000 FREE Pinwheels for Prevention® to inspire ​Coloradans to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together. 

The coronavirus outbreak and its subsequent losses have changed our world permanently. In the United States and likely your community, parents and professionals alike are still trying to adapt and understand the new landscape that the pandemic has created and its repercussions for raising happy healthy children. 

The risk to our nation’s children for experiencing child abuse and neglect in times of extreme stress and uncertainty is quite high. COVID-19 has added stressors to the lives of parents and caregivers, such as loss of employment, loss of income due to lack of paid leave, school and business closings that necessitate new childcare and homeschool arrangements, and food insecurity.

Physical distancing leads to the unintended consequence of isolation. The social connections and community services and activities that serve as protective factors against child abuse and neglect under ordinary conditions may not exist in this extraordinary time of physical distancing. 

Join us in planting the seeds of a better tomorrow for children and families in your community by visiting COPinwheelsForPevention.org to get your free pinwheels TODAY.  

There is a limit of 100 FREE pinwheels per household or organization and shipping and handling costs are not included in this special offer. 

Use Pinwheels for Prevention®

  • Give the pinwheels as a gift to another family to let them know you care

  • Display them in the background of your virtual meetings
  • Share pictures on social media #GrowingBetterTogether to promote positive childhood experiences

Ways to Get Involved

Follow #GrowingBetterTogether to Connect to the Movement in Your Community

Tag us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to Let Us Know You are Committed to #GrowingBetterTogether

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Subscribe to Illuminate Colorado’s blog to find out about more activities planned for Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Illuminate Colorado’s 2021 Policy Agenda

Illuminate Colorado’s 2021 Policy Agenda

The Colorado General Assembly is reconvening on Tuesday, February 16th after a month-long pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Advocacy work in a virtual environment will continue to require flexibility and adaptation, and Illuminate remains committed to ensuring our state’s policies build brighter childhoods.

Using a racial equity lens, the 2021 Illuminate Colorado Policy Agenda was crafted with a focus across all three levels of prevention to build research-based protective factors in families and to ensure appropriate system and community responses. 

Review the 2021 Policy Agenda

Download the 2021 Illuminating Policy Agenda with key highlighting specific protective factors each policy builds in Colorado.

Read the high-level summary below:

Primary Prevention

These strategies build protective factors in all families to prevent child maltreatment before it occurs–including addressing systemic barriers to building protective factors across the population.

  • Prioritize primary prevention in federal and state budgets; key focus areas include home visiting, family planning, family resource centers and adult education about child sexual abuse prevention.
  • Strengthen economic supports to families; including access to quality, affordable and stable housing and child care across Colorado.
  • Implement family friendly work policieskey focus areas include ensuring livable wages as well as the implementation of the statewide paid family and medical leave program.

Secondary Prevention

These strategies build protective factors in families in high stress situations to prevent child maltreatment before it occurs–including addressing systemic barriers to strengthening families in high stress situations.

  • Ensure and expand support for families impacted by substance use; such as equitable screening and connection to behavior health resources in prenatal and postpartum care.
  • Ensure and expand support for families impacted by intimate partner violence; particularly supporting education and resources for professionals to identify and support children and families impacted by intimate partner violence.

Tertiary Prevention

These strategies build protective factors in families to prevent recurrence of child maltreatment–including addressing systemic barriers to healing & recovery

  • Ensure communities identify and support children and families when abuse and neglect has occurred; focusing on creating equitable access to services to support healing and recovery.
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Stay up to date on policy that prevents child maltreatment and the 2021 Illuminating Policy Agenda by subscribing to Illuminate’s blog.

Register today for the 10th annual Speak Up for Kids Day (not) at the Capitol!

Illuminate encourages everyone to participate in Colorado’s Annual Speak up for Kids Day on Thursday, March 18, 2021 from 8:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m.

It is essential for elected officials and policy makers to understand how to prevent child maltreatment and listen to parents in every community.

This year’s event will be hosted virtually, yet still filled with tips and training on advocacy and lobbying skills, strategizing and role-playing for talking to lawmakers, opportunities to hear about key issues for kids and families, and more. Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Children’s Campaign and Clayton Early Learning are hosting the event.

Register at www.bit.ly/2021speakup and email advocacy@childrenscolorado.org with any questions.

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