Has your family been impacted by substance use during pregnancy?

Has your family been impacted by substance use during pregnancy?

If the answer to this question is yes, then there is an opportunity waiting for you to channel your experiences into change. Several spots on the Family Advisory Board are opening up in 2022. Your perspective is needed to build a Colorado that equitably serves all families through prevention and reduction of substance use during pregnancy and provides multigenerational support for families to thrive. That is the shared vision of the Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns (SEN) Steering Committee, established in 2008. This collaborative space is a subcommittee of the Colorado Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force tasked with identifying and implementing strategies for reducing the number of families impacted by substance use during pregnancy and for improving outcomes for families across the lifespan.

In 2019, the Family Advisory Board (FAB) to the Steering Committee was formed with the purpose of elevating the voices of families who have experienced, directly or indirectly, the impacts of substance use during pregnancy in order to

  • understand barriers in seeking support, health care, including treatment and other services, and
  • inform priority-setting within the Substance Exposed Newborns Steering Committee to raise awareness and best serve the needs of families impacted by substance use.

Anyone who has lived experience around substance use and pregnancy is encouraged to apply by completing the interest form to join this welcoming space to folks who identify as women, non-binary, and/or gender non-conforming. 

WANTED: Family Advisory Board Members

Take the first step by completing the Family Advisory Board Interest Form and we’ll be in touch soon!

A great example of how FAB members are making a difference is in the recently released Opioid Settlement Funds Recommendations jointly developed by Illuminate, the Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns Steering Committee and its Family Advisory Board. In the coming months and years, Colorado will also continue to receive funds from settlements and court rulings resulting from numerous lawsuits against drug companies, distributors and pharmacies over their role in the opioid crisis. It’s money that can — and should — be channeled to programs and services that equitably serve all families through prevention and reduction of substance use during pregnancy and provide multigenerational support for families to thrive.

This set of guidelines and recommendations for for State and local leaders set up a framework for dedicating opioid settlement funds to children and families impacted by perinatal substance use with a focus on building Colorado’s statewide capacity to:

  • align efforts,
  • apply lessons from data, and
  • recognize and respond to emerging needs.

The Steering Committee priorities, strategies and activities, like these recommendations, are guided by family voice experiences and leadership. Strategic planning, activity engagement and impact are each data-informed. The Steering Committee is convening, supporting and guiding the advancement of the four priority areas, with FAB members focusing in on the priority area of reducing stigma around accessing substance use disorder treatment and recovery supports for pregnant and parenting people.

Diane Smith, a mother of three who has a leadership role within this steering committee, as well as the Family Advisory Board, shared her insight in a recent article Family Voice Makes a Difference Illuminating Systemic Change.

“It is important to involve families with lived experiences as voice partners in program improvements and systemic change because it is the best way for our systems to evolve. When people are trying to identify what works, what doesn’t work, and how we change things for the next family, it is important for families to give input and share their experience,” said Smith.

Stepping into an advocacy role like this one can be hard for parents and caregivers and Smith pointed to a strong relationship with Hattie Landry, Illuminate strategic initiatives manager for making her experience a positive one. “It is important for FAB members to feel like they are vetted into the situation and feel comfortable with the group of individuals before they share their story. Hattie makes us feel comfortable, she shows a lot of empathy as a person and colleague,” said Smith. 

This is an amazing opportunity to serve in a role advising big changes and investment related to substance use and pregnancy by taking on the responsibilities of FAB members, including:

  • Encouraging greater understanding of the lived experience of individuals and families impacted by perinatal substance use.
  • Actively participating in establishing strong partnerships with Steering Committee members.
  • Discussing and evaluate practices, programs and services and provide recommendations that respond to the unique needs of families.
  • Channeling needs, concerns and recommendations to the Steering Committee for consideration.
  • Giving input based on your own experience, while recognizing that other members’ experiences may be different from your own.
  • Collaboratively working on projects identified by the FAB, including story-sharing planning and implementation.
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Member Roles & Responsiblities

Download the Family Advisory Board member roles and responsibilities

Join the Family Advisory Board

Take the first step by completing the Family Advisory Board Interest Form and we’ll be in touch this fall.

Connect with Us

Please reach out with questions about this or other opportunities to make a difference by sharing your lived experiences. It matters.

Seeking New Board Members

Seeking 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 prevent 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 a strong history of philanthropic development,
  • Individuals with access to marketing, advertising, public relations, or communications expertise and resources,
  • Individuals with subject matter expertise in strengthening families, specifically a public health perspective, and 
  • Individuals with best practice human resource management 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. 

Circle of Parents Is Not Just for the Parents

Circle of Parents Is Not Just for the Parents

Finding community can sometimes be difficult, especially in a rural setting. From getting answers to all your parenting questions to something as simple as finding a babysitter, it’s helpful to have a group of people you can go to for support. For one mother in Conifer, Colorado, finding that community has come through Circle of Parents.

Photo by Amy Johnson Photography

Jen Wilson was ecstatic when she first heard about Circle of Parents starting up in Conifer. Her kids had already been involved in early-childhood programming through Mountain Resource Center (MRC), so when it was announced that MRC would be hosting a Circle of Parents group for the community, she jumped at the chance to get connected to other parents in the area.

Through Circle of Parents, Wilson said she was able to find a group of like-minded parents. She also quickly realized how beneficial this group could be for her kids. “It became really important to me immediately and I saw the social emotional component of Circle and the work that those kids do in just playing with each other and being engaged. My son is on the autism spectrum…and we were really hoping to develop some of those social emotional skills, and Circle was actually a better place to do that than the school. It was worthwhile and everyone saw the value.”

Soon after joining Circle of Parents, MRC asked Wilson to be a parent lead and, when in-person meetings weren’t an option due to COVID-19, she began co-facilitating a virtual group. “Being able to go virtual has been critical,” said Wilson. “It helped to keep everyone in touch. It’s kept us feeling supported during a really weird year.” Throughout the pandemic, Wilson’s group was able to continue meeting to support each other, help each other out when needs arose, and figure out things like how to keep their kids socialized. More recently, the group has adopted a hybrid model, balancing Zoom calls with in-person meetings at local parks.

The newest expansion of Circle of Parents in Colorado, Children’s Circle, is something Wilson is thrilled about. Children’s Circle is a curriculum-based children’s program that builds the social-emotional skills of the children of caregivers and parents attending Circles, and Wilson sees this added component as the piece that’s been missing this past year for their group. The opportunity for parents and kids to have separate activities is really needed, she said. Wilson is excited about the opportunity to reach out to even more parents now and hopes that Children’s Circle will be an added draw for people in her community.

“It is a really great match for our community. It’s worth anybody looking into. Especially if you are in any way looking to make connections with other families, it’s a great place to start.”

– Jen Wilson

With the expansion of Circle of Parents to include Children’s Circle, the opportunity for Circle to make a holistic impact is growing, continuing to benefit both parents and children. When asked what she would say to anyone thinking about attending a Circle of Parents group, Wilson shared, “It is a really great match for our community. It’s worth anybody looking into. Especially if you are in any way looking to make connections with other families, it’s a great place to start.”

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Request for Information

Request for Information

Illuminate Colorado is looking for a skilled and collaborative partner that will support our organization in implementing the Conversation Guide for Professionals on Substance Use, Children & Families in four states (Region 1) with the possibility of expanding to a second region (Region 2) through the development of an adaptation, dissemination, implementation, and evaluation plan and provision of technical assistance.

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Deadline Submission: Wednesday, 9/15 at 5:00pm MT

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DOWNLOAD THE COMPLETE Request for Information: Adaptation, Dissemination, Implementation, and Evaluation of the Conversation Guide for Professionals on Substance Use, Children & Families: Scaling a Resource for Professionals Working with Families Impacted by Substance Use

Developed by Illuminate Colorado, the Conversation Guide for Professionals on Substance Use, Children & Families is a tool for professionals that provides direction on strengths-based conversations with families on substances and substance use, including content on safe storage, safe and engaged caregiving, and the Strengthening Families Protective Factors. The goals of this resource are to increase parent knowledge of and positive behaviors related to substance use and child safety, increase protective factors for children, and decrease child abuse and neglect.

To support implementation of this tool, Illuminate has developed the Smart Choices, Safe Kids Conversation Guide for Professionals on Substance Use, Children & Families Training, which educates professionals on the proper utilization of the tool and also explores stigma, bias, boundaries, screening tools, and resource referral options. More information about this resource and training can be found here.

Kiowa County Becomes the First County to Reach Child Safety Tipping Point

Kiowa County Becomes the First County to Reach Child Safety Tipping Point

Illuminate Colorado is excited to announce this week that Kiowa County is the first county in the state of Colorado to reach the tipping point to create a new standard of child safety in the community. In June of last year, llluminate launched the Tip Colorado Initiative aimed at training more than 200,000 Coloradans to protect children from sexual abuse.

Calculating the number of people who need to receive training in every county in Colorado and understanding what is necessary to create REAL social change in a community, Illuminate identified the tipping point for our state, as well as each county, where children grow up happy, healthy and safe in communities that prevent children from being sexually abused. 

Visit TipColorado.org

People all over Colorado can visit an interactive map on the initiative’s website to find out the number of people trained in their county today and learn how many more community members need to get trained to reach the tipping point in their county.

Local authorized facilitators Amber Settles and Lisa Thomas were instrumental in training the population of Kiowa County to reach this milestone. “We all need this training as a starting point, so we know where to go for help and support to grow our skills and advocate for the kids in our daily lives,” Settles said. “We as adults need to advocate and speak for the voiceless.” 

As the state intermediary and authorized facilitator of the Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children® Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Program, Illuminate is strengthening families, organizations and communities by supporting more than 80 local authorized facilitators in delivering, to their communities, the only evidence-informed, adult-focused child sexual abuse prevention training in the United States proven to increase knowledge and change behavior. Together, we have trained 8,130 Coloradans to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. This is no small feat, but it is a far cry from reaching the necessary critical milestone in child protection that we need to effectively prevent child sexual abuse in Colorado. This pivotal achievement will come when 284,149 Coloradans have taken this FREE two-hour training offered online and in-person in some communities.

Tipping the Scales in Favor of Kids in Kiowa

The people of Kiowa County, in southeastern Colorado, have shown a strong commitment to the prevention of child sexual abuse by passing the tipping point where a large enough percentage of the population has been trained to prevent, recognize and responsibly react to child sexual abuse to create real social change. The county needed to train 69 adults in order to reach the tipping point; it has already trained 110 adults and isn’t stopping there. “As the first county in Colorado to reach the tipping point, Kiowa County is proof that our communities care about our children and that adults are willing to take this first step forward to strengthen their communities,” said Sadie Rose Pace, Illuminate Colorado training specialist. “The dedicated people of Kiowa County and the local authorized facilitators who supported them in their effort deserve to be recognized and celebrated.” 

Help Colorado Reach the Tipping Point

Thanks in large part to support from the Colorado Children’s Trust Fund from the Office of Early Childhood at the Colorado Department of Human Services, all Coloradans can take Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children® training for FREE. One of several trainings aimed at preventing child sexual abuse promoted by Illuminate, Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children® training provides a strong foundation that any adult can use to grow awareness and build skills to protect the children in their community. Illuminate looks forward to more and more counties joining Kiowa County in the continuing effort to prevent child sexual abuse. For more information about the training and to learn what your community tipping point is, visit TipColorado.org

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