Additional Counties Needed to Expand Peer Support Groups for Families Impacted by Substance Use

Additional Counties Needed to Expand Peer Support Groups for Families Impacted by Substance Use

In 2019, Colorado was awarded a Regional Partnership Grant by the Children’s Bureau aimed at improving the well-being, permanency and safety outcomes of children and the recovery outcomes for parents whose children are in or at risk of out-of-home placement associated with a parent or caregiver’s substance use. Since that time Colorado partners have been collaborating through this opportunity to build protective factors within families by expanding Circle of Parents® in Colorado. The intended result of this Circle of Parents Expansion project (COPE) is to move this national evidence-informed model to an evidence-based model eligible for federal reimbursement through IV-E Clearinghouse for the Family First Prevention Services Act. 

COPE partners are looking for six additional counties to pilot the COPE Project in their communities. Interested counties would be required to engage with their Best Practice Court Teams to launch the project and to begin implementing the DANSR approach and to participate in the grant-mandated evaluation. This is a grant-funded expansion, so there is no cost to participate. 

Circle of Parents groups provide a friendly, supportive environment led by parents and other caregivers. Groups come together based on their location and shared experiences, like parenting while in recovery from a substance use disorder, to openly discuss the successes and challenges of raising children, free from judgment. Illuminate Colorado, a statewide nonprofit working to strengthen families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment, has been focused on growing Circle of Parents® in Colorado for the last several years as the Colorado Chapter for this national evidence informed model. Illuminate Colorado offers training, ongoing support and promotion to the 43 Circle groups meeting mostly online right now and plans to grow to nearly 60 Circle groups throughout Colorado by the end of 2021, many of which will be involved in COPE. 

Local courts and county-level departments of human services, the Colorado State Court Administrator’s Office, the Office of the Respondent Parents’ Counsel, the CDHS Division of Child Welfare and Office of Behavioral Health and Illuminate Colorado are collaborating through COPE to encourage and support the incorporation of peer support groups into the innovative Dependency and Neglect System Reform (DANSR) approach that is already successfully utilized across various Colorado counties to better manage cases with substance use concerns. While this project is currently focused on courts and communities who implement or are interested in applying the DANSR approach, however this may change and expand to other communities in the future. 

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 1 out of every 8 children in the U.S. lives with at least one parent dependent on alcohol or in need of treatment for substance use disorder. According to 2014-2018 Trails data from the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS), 13,325 children in Colorado were removed from their homes due to parental drug and/or alcohol 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. Research has shown that parents who are isolated, with few social connections, are at higher risk for child maltreatment. When parents don’t feel like they are part of a community and, in turn, feel isolated and unsupported, it should be a concern for all those looking to prevent child maltreatment and address substance use. The well-documented solution to addressing both issues lies in building social connections.

The COPE project is designed to identify and provide services for parents impacted by substance use issues by addressing systemic processes in the court system using the DANSR approach to managing cases and through the enhancement of the recovery ecosystem for parents using  Circle of Parents. The evaluation of COPE has been designed to minimize the time and resource requirements of participating counties and their staff. 2M Research and the Kempe Center serves as the evaluation team for the project to provide a true randomized control trial design.  

To learn more about DANSR and the COPE Project, contact Megan Kearsley, CIP Coordinator and COPE Project Director, State Court Administrator’s Office at 

Colorado Parent and 5280 Publishing Receives 2021 Illuminating Media Award

Colorado Parent and 5280 Publishing Receives 2021 Illuminating Media Award

The way information is framed in the media, the stories journalists, editors and producers choose to tell and the selection of images that get paired with those stories play an extraordinary role in shaping the environments in which we all live and raise our children. That is why Illuminate Colorado created the Illuminating Media Award, to recognize and shine a light on media outlets and journalists preventing child maltreatment through the stories they share with the community. This year, Illuminate Colorado has selected Colorado Parent and 5280 Publishing to receive the 2021 Illuminating Media Award for helping to build brighter childhoods in Colorado.

The pandemic created unprecedented levels of stress in parents’ lives. Over the course of almost a year and half now, in addition to all the normal trials and tribulations of parenthood, people raising children have had to navigate so much more than our parents before us as we tried our best to maintain our own mental health and literally do it all. 

Parents tried to work virtually from home while running an online classroom in the background. Frontline parents placed themselves at risk, distanced themselves from their families to care for others, and tried to stay emotionally connected to their children. Unemployed parents tried to navigate resources in the community to keep a roof over their heads and their children fed. We all tried and for that we all deserve to be congratulated because there is no perfect parent. Throughout it all Colorado’s go-to parenting guide became so much more to us during this pandemic and they too shifted so much of what they normally do. 

Colorado Parent Magazine expanded from the traditional print magazine we all picked up at the local supermarket or pediatrician’s office to a digital edition we could all rely on from the safety of our inboxes. It became a space that told stories and shared resources online to help Colorado parents and children get through this tough time and, hopefully, come out the otherside relatively unscathed. 

In addition to donating advertising and promotion as the Media Sponsor for the 2021 Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign helping Illuminate distribute more than 40,000 pinwheels throughout Colorado to raise awareness for the prevention of child maltreatment, Colorado Parent has provided a platform for local child development experts to share helpful tips and parents and caregivers to share stories that bring the Protective Factors to life all year-long. It is for this ongoing commitment to strengthen Colorado families and build knowledge of parenting and child development that we honor Colorado Parent and 5280 Publishing for illuminating media

Colorado Parent Bringing the Protective Factors to Life

Here a just a few of our favorites Colorado Parent stories over the last several months that have brought the Protective Factors to life: 

  • Father To Father: When Your Son Has Special Needs – The story of two fathers connecting, one far along the journey through parenthood with a multi-disabled son who was turning 31 and the other just beginning to grapple with his six year-old son’s Autism diagnosis. 
  • Powerful Puberty Class Teaches Moms and Daughters – Normalizing the continued conversations we should be having with our kids throughout their development, this is a great article highlighting one midwife and educator teaching moms and their tween and teen daughters about puberty, body image, and why we should celebrate—not squirm about—their changing bodies.

We look forward to the day when we can recognize the wonderful staff of Colorado Parent and 5280 Publishing in person with this award. In the meantime, we encourage everyone to check out Colorado Parent’s Free email newsletters and follow us on Twitter as we share more #IlluminatingMedia.

Early Childhood Council of the San Luis Valley Hiring Early Childhood Lead Teachers in Partnership With Illuminate Colorado

Early Childhood Council of the San Luis Valley Hiring Early Childhood Lead Teachers in Partnership With Illuminate Colorado

Early Childhood Council of the San Luis Valley is partnering with Illuminate Colorado to bring Illuminating Child Care to the San Luis Valley and is seeking two Early Childhood Lead Teachers for our mobile child care classroom serving infants and toddlers onsite where parents are getting the support that they need to strengthen their families.

Position Overview:

The Early Childhood Lead Teachers will be hired to plan, organize, implement, and deliver an infant and toddler program curriculum to enrolled children’s individual and group’s educational, intellectual, physical, social, and emotional needs. 

These positions will manage a mobile child care classroom for children whose parents are working to address complex issues impacting their family, like mental health concerns, substance use disorders, or employment challenges; and ensure that the mobile classroom remains in compliance with the State of Colorado Child Care Licensing standards.

Position performs classroom, administrative, mobile unit management duties to support the mobile child care classrooms. Early Childhood Lead Teachers must have flexibility to work a schedule including evenings and weekends. Salary Range: $40,000 – $43,000 (based on education & relevant experience), IRA Contribution up to 3% Match, No Health Benefit available at this time. Anticipated start date June 1, 2021. 

View the full job description here.

To apply: Please submit a resume & letter of interest via email to

Child Abuse Prevention Month Recap: Over 40,000 Pinwheels Distributed!

Child Abuse Prevention Month Recap: Over 40,000 Pinwheels Distributed!

Leading into April, Illuminate Colorado called on Coloradans to claim their FREE pinwheels and plant them in their front yards and neighborhoods as part of a national movement to recognize the importance of community-based support for all children and families during National Child Abuse Prevention Month this April, and all year-long. We ended up surpassing our goal, giving away over 40,000 free Pinwheels for Prevention® to inspire Coloradans to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together.

Throughout the month of April, Illuminate and other Prevent Child Abuse America (PCAA) chapters, as well as local supporters in more than 100 cities in Colorado, planted pinwheels and used a community garden metaphor to reinforce the message that “every day, we help positive childhood experiences take root.”

“We can build healthier, safer and thriving communities if we take the same approach to raising families that we do to tending a community garden on a shared piece of land. Just like a plant is more likely to thrive in a garden with good soil and plenty of sunlight and water, families are more likely to thrive in nurturing communities,” said Jade Woodard, executive director of Illuminate Colorado.

Planting a pinwheel represents the bright childhoods we all want for children and the goal was that, with over 40,000 pinwheels planted in front yards and neighborhoods throughout the state, more people would know how to plant the seeds for all children to grow up happy and healthy.

The following are some of the highlights from the month:

  • April 1 was Wear Blue Day, a day to show support for positive childhood experiences. Photos and videos were posted on social media and included #WearBlueDay2021. We also joined together withGovernor Jared Polis for the virtual launch of National Child Abuse Prevention Month in Colorado.
  • The Colorado State House of Representatives recognized April 1st as the first day of Child Abuse Prevention Month and paid tribute to the work happening in Colorado to prevent child abuse.
  • Ten state legislators recorded videos showing their support for children and families and encouraged others to get involved in Child Abuse Prevention Month.
  • We distributed 62,160,600 messages through earned media, paid media and organic social media during the month of April that promoted prevention and reached 81,405 Coloradans.
  • Through the #GrowingBetterTogether Photo Contest, community members submitted pinwheels photos for a chance to win a grant for their favoriteColorado nonprofit serving children and families! Photos with the most votes won the opportunity to select a Colorado nonprofit serving children and families to receive grants of $1,000, $300 and $200.
  • A FREE two-hour interactive virtual introductory course to learn how to “bring the protective factors to life” at home, work and in your community was offered twice during April. Ten Colorado counties were represented in the trainings!
  • April 8 was World Day for Prevention and Healing from Child Sexual Abuse, a day when we talked about how every survivor and their loved ones need access to services for healing and resilience. Together, we can reach a tipping point inColorado where children grow up happy, healthy and safe in communities that prevent children from experiencing sexual abuse. If enough adults in a community take a FREE two-hour interactive online training then, together, we can create a new standard of child safety in your community and throughout Colorado. Visit  to help your county reach the tipping point.
  • We joined PCAA and sorority partners at Kappa Delta and Sigma Delta Tau for Digital Advocacy Day, where community members were encouraged to contact their elected officials and spread the word about policy change that’s vital to the well-being of children and their families. You can still visit for a guide to what policies and legislation in Colorado build protective factors.
  • Throughout the month, our communities used the hashtag#GrowingBetterTogether to connect to the movement, finding ways to get involved and signify their commitment to helping children, families and entire communities to thrive.

Thank you so much, Colorado, for helping us spread awareness about child abuse prevention throughout the month of April. We couldn’t have done it without you and we look forward to continuing the work of strengthening families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment throughout the rest of the year with you!

Safe and Stable Housing Supports Family Well-Being

Safe and Stable Housing Supports Family Well-Being

Safe and stable housing is essential for the health and well-being of everyone, especially for children and families. Colorado’s Child Fatality Prevention System 2020 Legislative Report specifically recommends the support of policies that expand access to quality, affordable and stable housing across the state in order to ensure positive health outcomes for children and families. The passing of such policies is greatly needed as families still face significant challenges in accessing and affording quality and stable housing. 

Current research Families with children are more likely to face eviction than households without children. Policies that build and promote concrete supports for stable housing are critical because housing security helps protect children from injury and violence, including child abuse and neglect.

To ensure safe and stable housing for Coloradans, the Colorado state legislature is currently considering Senate Bill 21-173 Rights in Residential Lease Agreements which, if passed, will:

  • Require information about late payment fees to be included in tenant leases,
  • Limit late fees on unpaid rent to a set percentage, dollar amount and grace period,
  • Give renters more time to come up with their rent and avoid eviction, prohibiting tenant evictions solely for owing late fees,
  • Ban lease clauses that provide financial incentives to landlords who evict,
  • Eliminate bond requirements so Colorado renters can offer legitimate defenses and not get priced out of court, and
  • Establish a financial penalty for landlords who illegally lock out tenants. 

Safe, stable, and affordable housing is crucial for family well-being, particularly for families with low-incomes disproportionately affected by housing hardship. This can undermine healthy family functioning and may increase the likelihood that children in those environments will experience neglect or abuse. Housing instability may also have a direct correlation on other forms of physical neglect for children, such as food insecurity and lack of access to medical care. In addition, studies have also shown that there is an association between housing insecurity and other subtypes of child maltreatment, such as physical or emotional abuse. Evidence shows that a lack of adequate shelter and exposure to chaotic or unsafe living environments leads to increased rates of parental stress. Conditions of scarcity and stress have a direct impact on parent behavior and their ability to provide resources to their families. 

SB21-173 is particularly important for addressing inequities that impact renter households of color who are bearing the weight of higher housing cost burdens. Due to a long-standing history of discriminatory housing and lending practices, Black, Indigenous, and people of color face even more barriers to adequate housing, systemically creating more conditions of scarcity and stress for those families. Further, the economic hardship created by the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenges families face in securing affordable and adequate housing and has amplified the need for the measures in this bill. In order to support our children and our families, we must increase fairness in the eviction court process and reasonably limit late fees in order to prevent housing instability, eviction, and homelessness, which will ultimately help advance racial equity and support all Coloradans to have stable housing.

SB21-173 is scheduled for the House Business Affairs & Labor Committee on Thursday, May 13th, at 1:30pm. Thank you to partners at 9 To 5 Colorado, Colorado Center on Law and Policy, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, Enterprise Community Partners, Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, Together Colorado and more for supporting this important bill. Thank you to Representatives Caraveo and Gonzales-Gutierrez and Senators Gonzales and Moreno for your leadership and sponsorship of SB21-173.

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