Now is the Time to Talk to Your Clients about Child Care

Now is the Time to Talk to Your Clients about Child Care

Everyone wants the best for their child, but many parents, caregivers and families are struggling to manage life’s challenges and the demands of raising children right now. Before anyone can begin to address complex issues impacting their family, like a substance use disorder or a mental health concern, too often parents must first face the stress of finding child care. That is why it is critical that treatment providers talk to their clients about what resources are available to parents to ease that burden on the path to recovery.

Outreaching to substance use treatment providers, in particular, is an important strategy for Colorado to prevent child maltreatment. Most referrals to the child welfare system related to substance use are for children under the age of one month. While pregnancy and motherhood can be an increased time of motivation for substance use disorder treatment, access to child care is a significant barrier to treatment. Prior to the pandemic, 35 percent of Colorado women who sought treatment had a child, but only 3.3 percent of outpatient substance use disorder treatment facilities in Colorado provide child care. Now, with the increased use of telehealth, it is even more important to aid clients in finding child care to ease parental stress at home.

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Step One - If a client has a child, ask if they know about Colorado Shines.

Colorado is lucky to have Colorado Shines, one of the best tools in a families’ toolbox for building strong families. This resource offers families one-on-one support, in both English and Spanish, to find licensed, quality child care.  Call 1-877-338-CARE (2273) to talk with a Colorado Shines navigator Monday – Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or visit coloradoshines.com.

Step Two - Talk about Safe Storage and Choosing a Safe Caregiver with No Judgement and Encourage Parents to Visit SmartChoicesSafeKids.org

This judgement free zone offers information to guide us all through the choices we have to make at every age and stage of life to keep kids safe. Choosing someone to take care of your child in a world of limited options is a real part of parenting. Whether you are looking for a regular child care provider or someone to help out here and there, clients can get basic guidelines and good questions to ask to help ensure their child will be safe and well cared for in their absence. 

If a parent should take an unfortunate detour on the path to recovery, having a conversation about leaving a child in the safe care of someone else is critical to preventing child maltreatment. 

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Step Three - Help Your Clients Connect to Healthy Communities

Staying on the path to recovery is easiest with a supportive community around you. Parents need each other and connecting with other parents in recovery is critical to maintaining sobriety. Circle of Parents® groups are friendly, supportive communities led by parents and other caregivers, where parents are the experts. Parents in treatment can find a list of Circle of Parents in Recovery groups at CircleOfParentsCO.org, including a statewide virtual recovery group meeting every week on Wednesday at 9:30 am and Friday at 7:00 pm.

Illuminate Colorado embraces our collective responsibility to outreach to parents, caregivers, community-based organizations and businesses to promote safe care-giving and high-quality child care through Illuminating Child Care. We know parents trying to navigate challenging situations need a community’s help to shine a light on tools in their tool box to strengthen their families. 

We hope substance use treatment providers and behavioral health management organizations will join us in this shared responsibility to keep children safe by downloading this flyer to help share these resources with clients to build brighter childhoods. 

Innovation Through Partnership: Creating “Honey”

Innovation Through Partnership: Creating “Honey”

We know that access to child care is critical for all parents and caregivers in order for children, families and communities to thrive. So it was fairly easy to recognize the need for a mobile child care classroom to serve Colorado families when they need it the most. Figuring out how to make it a reality was a little more complicated.

Through a lot of hard work and with the help of some incredible partners, that reality is finally here. We’re so excited to introduce Honey.

As a foundational part of Illuminating Child Care, Honey is the first of its kind anywhere in the country. 

 

But none of this would be possible without our partners on this project. One of those partners is Proctor Productions, a full-scale design and fabrication firm with a team of passionate designers, fabricators, and storytellers who are dedicated to building any experience, large or small.

 

Honey would not exist today without the creativity, dedication and hard work of Proctor. We recently sat down with the firm to reflect on the experience of working together to create Honey.

Illuminate Colorado: Why did you decide to take on this project?

Proctor Productions: Building and modifying vehicles for clients is very familiar territory for us, but this was something truly special. We initially met with Jade and Joan about their needs and quickly realized the meaning behind what they were trying to do, and instantly knew this was something we could get behind and believe in as well. We have children and families too, so upon hearing their idea of creating this program to take child care to the people who may need it the most to help and heal, we were in. We’re passionate about all the projects we do, but we’re especially proud of the work we’ve done with Illuminate Colorado.

Illuminate: What was your favorite part about working on Honey?

Proctor: That’s a tough question to answer because we really do love every aspect of the work we do; problem solving, custom solutions, artwork, fabrication, all of it. Each member of our teams are specialists on at least one thing, so there are details and elements throughout Honey that of course are favorites, but we honestly have to say that the relationship we have built with Illuminate may be our favorite part of it all and the best example of the project effort. The high level of collaboration we began with continues to be a fundamental of the work to this day.

Illuminate: What part of the renovation are you most proud of?

Proctor: As we said, we have teams of specialists that all bring value to our projects, but one part of the renovation effort we are most proud of is definitely all the custom woodworking, cabinetry, and interior vehicle elements our fabrication team completed inside Honey. The aesthetic is so complete with such accuracy and specificity that most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the original vehicle portions and anything new we added to complete the interior functions needed. The finishes and build quality are just so spot-on, Honey’s interior looks like it has always only ever been the wonderful mobile child care classroom it is now. Again, we love it all, but are very proud of that team and the end results.

Illuminate: What was the hardest obstacle you had to overcome?

Proctor: We don’t see obstacles, only opportunities for solutions, whatever they may ultimately be. Fortunately, Illuminate sourced a relatively newer RV motor coach in excellent condition as a great point from which to start the project. But there are always unknowns when working with an existing vehicle or mobile platform and those unknowns can definitely be the most challenging to address once you get into the bones of what you’ll really be working with. Honey was already a well-built vehicle with existing hydraulic, pneumatic, gas, electrical, and plumbing systems to design around and integrate with, so considering all those factors was the biggest challenge in accomplishing everything we wanted to in the project. Everything is achievable, it just takes the appropriate amount of time and effort to do it the right way.

Illuminate: Is there anything you learned when it came to how trauma-informed care can impact design?

Proctor: Yes, definitely. We always begin our process with design thinking and asking the right questions to ultimately address the real needs that may be present, but designing for both adult teachers and little kiddos in the classrooms heavily influenced our thinking and final intent. Among many of the things we learned throughout this process, with guidance from Illuminate, we educated ourselves on, and implemented the guiding principles of safety, choice, collaboration, trustworthiness and empowerment in the classroom wherever we could. Where this influence is most visible is in the forms, shapes, sizes, and placement of elements inside the vehicle. Everything needed to be appropriate and useful to the adults operating the program as drivers, activation staff, and most importantly as teachers. Moreover, it needed to be appropriate for, and compliant with the developmental needs of the infants and toddlers that will be receiving care in the classrooms. Everything from access to toys, books, safe sleeping areas, to colors, artwork, and lighting were considered when designing and creating the interior environment of Honey.

Illuminate: Anything else you’d like to add?

Proctor: Absolutely. It was very important to the entire team from the beginning that this program be accessible to as many families who need help as possible, and one of the ways we could facilitate that access was through the look and feel of the program branding, and especially how the vehicle appears from the exterior and inside as well. We wanted to achieve a balance of Illuminate Colorado’s branding and recognition, but also add some personality and character to this fleet of mobile child care classrooms. We created a look with all the artwork that contains familiar Colorado elements but also some fun and whimsical elements for the kids. And to do that we’ve got a group of bears bringing that personality to life on this vehicle, which it’s named HONEY. HONEY is truly unique in leading the way of how families will experience mobile child care, and our bears are symbolically versatile and can be whatever anyone imagines: a teacher and children, a parent interacting with kids, or parents just hanging out with kiddos. We want to extend educational opportunities to children and make all families feel welcomed, so HONEY represents these family voices in our state of Colorado through it’s bears and mountains. 

We are so grateful for Proctor’s partnership on this project. To learn more about Proctor Productions, visit their website at proctorproductions.com.

Welcoming New Board Members

Welcoming New Board Members

Join the Board

We are seeking passionate, dedicated individuals representing multi-cultural perspectives and/or life experiences to join our Board of Directors.

Board members provide strategic vision, oversight and resources to help further the mission of Illuminate to strengthen families, organizations and communities to prevention child maltreatment.

Current priorities for Board of Directors recruitment include:

  • Individuals with expertise in complex financial management, such as a Chief Financial Officer or similar role,
  • Individuals with subject matter expertise in strengthening families, specifically a public health perspective,
  • Individuals with best practice human resource management expertise, and 
  • Individuals with marketing, public relations, or communications expertise.
Board Expectations

Illuminate Colorado strengthens families, organizations, and communities to prevent child maltreatment. The Board of Directors provides strategic vision, oversight, and resources to help further the mission of Illuminate. 

    • Provide fiduciary oversight by reviewing and approving operating budgets, financial statements, and annual Audit / IRS Form 990. 
    • Provide ongoing strategic counsel and advice to the Executive Director, through biannual one-on-ones, and to other staff leaders as needed.
    • Contribute financially at an individually meaningful level. Gifts from board members of time or talent may contribute to this requirement. 
    • Grow the Reach of Illuminate by engaging others who can be helpful to the cause as potential supporters. Help identify and connect potential donors or board members (through introductions / event attendance) and proactively promoting Illuminate in conversations with friends, colleagues, and broader networks.
    • Attend and prepare for board meetings held every other month as well as an annual Fall Board retreat to ensure connection and current understanding of organization’s goals, strategies, and priorities.
    • Serve on at least one board committee – Executive & Finance Committee, Fundraising and Communications Committee, Program and Public Policy Committee, to support and advise on organization operations. 
    • Select, support, and evaluate the Executive Director through ongoing coaching and support, as well as an annual performance evaluation.
    • Attend major organizational events and host an annual micro event. Board members are expected to attend and bring guests to the organization’s annual events. Board members are also encouraged to host an annual micro event or support Illuminate through outside fundraising or engagement opportunities.
    • Provide support for fundraising efforts including writing personal thank you notes, meeting with potential major donors, providing event planning support (securing auction/event specific donations), and engaging in foundation or corporate research/outreach to support the organization.

Meetings & Events

The Illuminate Board of Directors meets bi-monthly in the even months throughout the year, with a retreat in the fall and committee meetings in the odd months. Board meetings are typically held at the Illuminate Colorado Office in Denver with the option for remote participation through video/phone conferences.

In addition, board members are expected to attend significant Illuminate events and contribute financially to the organization. 

Interested? Take the Next Step

Illuminate Colorado is committed to building a strong and diverse Board of Directors. Learn more about Illuminate at illuminatecolorado.org. If you are interested or would like more information, complete this form and a member of the board of directors will get in touch with you within two to three weeks. 

Celebrating Fathers of Freedom

Celebrating Fathers of Freedom

Adam Combs and Adrian Nunez, two military veteran fathers, recognized a void in their community for fathers attempting to figure out how to jump back into parenthood while working to overcome other struggles that often accompany serving abroad. 

Having a network of people to turn to when parenting gets stressful is critical to the well-being of children and families, as well as the economic health of Colorado. According to Illuminate Colorado, surveys among parents in Colorado prior to the pandemic highlighted the critical need to increase social connections among people parenting in Colorado. While 50% of Colorado parents think other parents ask for help with parenting, the reality is that only one in five parents in Colorado reported asking for support with parenting and one in five said they have no one to turn to for day to day emotional support with raising children.

Thanks to Combs and Nunez leadership, military fathers have a new place to connect with a brand-new Circle of Parents group in Colorado Springs open to any veteran father starting this month. The community known as Fathers of Freedom will meet online every Tuesday via Zoom beginning November 17th from 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm. They say they welcome drop-ins and, when it is appropriate, plan to meet in person and offer dinner and child care free of charge. Open to any veteran father who has the desire to build a strong and lasting bond with not only their children, but also with other veteran fathers, the community also set up a private Fathers of Freedom Facebook group. However, these two dads are no strangers to parent groups, having led a statewide online Circle of Fathers group since the pandemic impacted Colorado early this year.

“The biggest reason I started this group was because being a stay at home father who is a combat veteran and has battled a lot of things over the years, at times have begun to feel isolated and withdrawn from the rest of society,” said Nunez.  “I wanted to create a safe place for other Veteran fathers to meet up and fellowship and encourage and support each other through the thick and thin of life to really step out of our comfort zones to grow. A place we can learn to trust and confide in one another with any success or issue and most importantly teach each other from our own different or similar experiences to be the best and healthiest fathers and leaders we can be!”

In today’s society, many men, especially those serving in a highly serious profession, often find it difficult or even shameful to share emotions. The hope is this group will help break down those walls and create the space for fathers to seek the information and techniques they need to build on their parenting skills. 

People raising children of all ages can find statewide and local circles of parents connecting at CircleofParentsCO.org. Groups have come together based on their location as well as shared experiences, like military service, parenting while in recovery from a substance use disorder and parenting a child with special needs. Others simply want to connect with people in a similar parenting role, like the kinship, grandparenting and fatherhood Circle groups.  

Men are prejudged and punished for simply not knowing what they don’t know, because nobody has taken the time to instill that knowledge in them or model it for them,” Combs said.  “They are set-up to fail at fatherhood, of no fault of their own, because that is how our society has raised them to be.  Noted, these statements do not stand true for all fathers, but from within the populous of men I have spoken to on this subject matter, all have a strong desire to be in their children’s lives and be engaging fathers, they just do not know how to go about completely fulfilling that request at times.  If you add that uncertainty with any other childhood trauma or PTSD symptoms from a veteran’s time serving the war effort, you have a recipe for potential absence or child neglect/abuse.”  

Parents with a social network of emotionally supportive friends, family, and neighbors often find that it is easier to care for their children and themselves. All parents need people they can call on once in a while when they need a sympathetic listener, advice or support. To help parents find that support in their lives, Illuminate Colorado is focused on growing Circle of Parents® in Colorado.

Built around the foundations of mutual self-help, parent leadership, family support, and increasing all five Protective Factors in families, Circle of Parents® groups to strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment. Groups are parent-led and parent-driven and thus there is no curriculum – just a safe place for parents to share with each other and seek support and advice. Circle of Parents® groups provide a friendly, supportive environment led by parents and other caregivers, where parents are the experts.  It’s a place where anyone in a parenting role can openly discuss the successes and challenges of raising children.  It’s a place where they can find and share support.

We cannot help anyone until we take the time to help ourselves.  I started this group because I want to give our veteran fathers a support group to lean on and voice their concerns,” said Combs. “To speak about different tools to parenting and what some of the research is saying.  To openly communicate to each other what things have been working in their household and what things have not been working.  To give men a platform to be vulnerable with other men so they can discuss parenting without feeling judged for their potential ignorance on the subject matter.  This will be an open space where we can learn together through open discussion and book recommendations.  It will be a place to organize group activities with our children to build closer bonds and instill trust.  I want this organization to be a safe-haven where men are given the opportunity to be the best fathers they can be to their children and the best role models they can be for the next generation of fathers.  I think it is important to give ourselves some grace in parenting, because at the end of the day, we are all just doing the best we can.”

Historic Wins for Colorado Families this Election Season

Historic Wins for Colorado Families this Election Season

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Colorado voters have proved how they have the power to affect the lives of children and families in their community and influence the statewide prevention of child maltreatment. Coloradans voted in record numbers this year, with the turnout among active registered voters currently standing at 86.8%. According to the Secretary of State, over 3.3 million ballots had been received into the statewide voter registration system as of 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday, November 4, with more ballots to be processed in the days ahead. Illuminate Colorado is proud of the passage of Proposition 118, Proposition EE, and Amendment B, and continued commitment and advocacy will be needed to ensure financial security of all Colorado families through the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. 

Proposition 118: Paid Family and Medical Leave

Colorado voters are the first in the nation to approve a comprehensive Paid Family and Medical Leave insurance policy for hardworking families at the ballot box! Offering paid time to parents and caregivers to care for not only their infants, but also themselves, increases Parental Resilience, Concrete Support, Social Connections, Knowledge Of Parenting and Child Development, and Social and Emotional Competence Of Children, each of which are shown to strengthen families and decrease the likelihood of child maltreatment. Colorado’s voters spoke loud and clear about the need for policies that support families and help economies thrive. Illuminate Colorado looks forward to seeing the positive direct and associated impacts of this program on our state for years to come. 

Proposition EE: Taxes on Nicotine Products

Proposition EE passed with wide margins, making Colorado one of only five states to offer universal preschool. The funding will support Colorado’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, fund tobacco and nicotine cessation initiatives, and will ultimately create universal access to ten hours per week of voluntary preschool for all children the year prior to kindergarten entry, with the greatest resources invested in those who face the greatest barriers to school success. The policy will increase Protective Factors for Colorado families, particularly including Social and Emotional Competence of children and Concrete Support, ensuring a healthier, brighter future for Colorado.

Amendment B: Repeal the Gallagher Amendment

Colorado voters said ‘yes’ on Amendment B, getting rid of a restrictive ratio squeezing our essential services. By repealing the Gallagher Amendment and freezing residential and nonresidential property assessment rates at their current levels, Colorado is protecting funding for schools, hospitals, fire protection districts, libraries, and other critical community services, all of which contribute to the five Protective Factors for families.

The work continues…

Proposition 116: State Income Tax Rate Reduction

Illuminate Colorado opposed Proposition 116, and it passed. Permanently decreasing the state income tax from 4.63% to 4.55% will compound the impact of significant budget cuts already being made to education, transportation, health care programs, and other state services as a result of the current economic crisis. The outcome of this ballot measure will surely be a setback for a fair and equitable tax code. Stay tuned to Fair Tax Colorado to engage in what advocacy efforts may lie ahead. 


Thank you all for your engagement this election season. The State’s Joint Budget Committee will begin meeting next week to hear all executive and judicial department budget requests and the quarterly revenue forecast including analysis on the ultimate budget impacts of all passed ballot initiatives. We encourage lawmakers to maintain prevention as a priority and keep the needs of families and children top of mind through the upcoming budgeting season. 

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