The Time is Now to Make Wise Investments on Local and State Levels

The Time is Now to Make Wise Investments on Local and State Levels

In the months and years ahead, Colorado State and local leaders have the opportunity to spend both American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and Opioid Settlement Funds. Being a local-control state is both a blessing and a curse in so many ways when it comes to investing in strengthening families. On one hand it allows local county commissioners and government agencies the flexibility necessary to listen to the children and families in the community and respond to the unique challenges they face. On the other hand, it requires a considerable amount of time and thoughtful coordination to communicate best practices, evidence-informed research, and lessons lived and learned to help county commissioners and State leaders alike make informed investments.

Through our roles as both a convener of collaborative spaces and experts on the prevention of child maltreatment, Illuminate Colorado proudly guided the collaborative development of investment recommendations to aid State and local decision-makers in prioritizing family strengthening to the most of this opportunity. Illuminate led both the Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families ( the Partnership) and the Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns (SEN) Steering Committee, a subcommittee of the Colorado Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force, and it’s Family Advisory Board, regarding ARPA funds and Opioid Settlement Funds respectively, to identify concrete investments Colorado can make to transform systems and services to build brighter childhoods.  

Investing American Rescue Plan Act Funds to Prevent Child Maltreatment and Promote Family Well-Being

The pandemic has impacted so many different aspects of our communities, and the challenge on local, state, and federal levels is to determine how to prioritize allocation of these ARPA funds. Decision-makers within county and state agencies are having to balance and prioritize everything from physical infrastructure to community infrastructure.

The Partnership members including; Colorado Counties Inc., state and local public health and human services departments, families with lived experiences and Illuminate Colorado, created recommendations for county commissioners to guide investing ARPA funds in early childhood and reap long-term benefits of these investments to build stronger communities and families. 

Wise investment of American Rescue Plan Act funds will go a long way to address pronounced need and opportunities during pregnancy through the first five years of life.

Nobel-prize economist, James Heckman, shows that every dollar spent on high quality, birth-to-five programs for disadvantaged children delivers a 13% per annum return on investment.

The recommendations include an overview of why it is important to invest in the prevention of child maltreatment and promotion of family-well being, data on the pronounced needs and opportunities of families during pregnancy and through the first five years of life, and specific recommendations on how ARPA funds can be leveraged to support families in Colorado.

Setting Up a Framework for Dedicating Opioid Settlement Funds to Children and Families Impacted by Perinatal Substance Use

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. 

Investing in tailored substance use disorder treatment and recovery services for families leads to better outcomes, cost savings and stronger communities. 

While pregnancy and motherhood can be a time of increased motivation for substance use disorder treatment and recovery, an absence of tailored services creates a gap between need and access. Substance use disorder treatment that supports the family as a unit has proven to be effective for maintaining maternal recovery and child well-being. Residential treatment programs serving women and children produced nearly $4 in savings for every $1 invested through reductions in child welfare costs, crime, foster care and low birth weight babies.

With both support and leadership from Illuminate, the Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns Steering Committee and its Family Advisory Board which elevates the voices of families who have experienced, directly or indirectly, the impacts of substance use during pregnancy, jointly developed a set of guidelines and recommendations for how opioid settlement funds with a focus on building Colorado’s statewide capacity to: 

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

Share these recommendations with your regional, county and state agency decision-makers.

American Rescue Plan Act Funds Recommendations

Opioid Settlement Funds Recommendations

Reflecting on Progress Toward Prevention During the 2021 Colorado Legislative Session

Reflecting on Progress Toward Prevention During the 2021 Colorado Legislative Session

When families, organizations, communities and policy makers focus on building protective factors, we can effectively prevent child maltreatment and keep families strong during the pandemic and beyond. Last week, state legislators concluded the 2021 legislative session–which included some crucial wins for Colorado families.

Thank you to the Governor, legislators, staffers, advocates and community partners for their work to make the session so successful.

Illuminating the 2021 Colorado Legislative Session

Get a complete summary of progress made toward Illuminating policy during the most recent Colorado Legislative Session.  

Highlights from the 2021 Colorado Legislative Session:

  • Almost all of last year’s budget cuts to critical family strengthening supports were restored including state funding for Family Resource Centers, the Tony Grampsas Youth Services Program, The Colorado Children’s Trust Fund, evidence-based Home Visiting Programs, the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP), Child Abuse Response and Evaluation Network, the Child Fatality Prevention System, Comprehensive Sexual Education, Family Planning Program,  the Child Care Services and Substance Use Disorder Treatment Pilot Program, and the High Risk Pregnant Women Program.

  • The passage of HB21-1311 was a big win for family economic security. HB21-1311, Income Tax, expands the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and funds the Colorado Child Tax Credit (CTC), among numerous other provisions. The EITC and CTC are two of the most well-researched mechanisms for reducing childhood poverty. Refundable state EITCs are documented to reduce foster care entry rates, child maltreatment, and rates of abusive head trauma.

  • The passage of both SB21-073 and SB21-088 made important progress toward preventing and appropriately responding to child sexual abuse. SB21-073 removes the statute of limitations and other restrictions on bringing a civil claim based on sexual misconduct, allowing child and adult survivors time to heal so that they may access the civil legal system and monetary resources to thrive into adulthood after surviving sexual abuse. SB21-088 creates a new civil cause of action for any person sexually abused in Colorado while participating in a youth program as a child, ensuring that all survivors of child sexual abuse, including those who have delayed disclosing abuse into adulthood, have the opportunity to hold culpable and complicit individuals and organizations accountable.

The Work Continues
Advancing systemic improvements and policy change requires year-long collaboration. Below are just a few areas that require immediate attention to advance the 2021 Illuminating Agenda. We will all need to:   

  • Ensure Colorado makes practical investments in child maltreatment prevention using the billions of dollars the state will be receiving from the 2021 American Rescue Plan
  • Ensure Colorado makes practical investments in tailored, specialized services for families impacted by substance use using opioid settlement funds at the state and local level
  • Continue to advocate for family economic security and family friendly work policies, including livable wages for Colorado families.
  • Continue to prioritize resources for adult education about child sexual abuse prevention. 
  • Advocate federally:
    • For increased investments in proven child maltreatment prevention programs and services through MIECHV, CBCAP, and CAPTA
    • To advance Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) research, prevention, and services at the federal level through the FASD Respect Act

 

Review the 2021 Policy Agenda

Download the complete 2021 Illuminating Policy Agenda, highlighting specific protective factors each policy solution builds in Colorado.

"

Subscribe

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

Leveraging the American Rescue Plan Act to Invest in Colorado’s Future

Leveraging the American Rescue Plan Act to Invest in Colorado’s Future

Colorado has reached another milestone in building towards COVID-19 recovery for families. Building on the roughly $800 million of state stimulus funds already already invested in Colorado’s COVID recovery, last week Governor Jared Polis, legislative leadership, members of the Joint Budget Committee, members of Colorado’s federal delegation, and State Treasurer Dave Young announced how the state will use Colorado’s $3.8 billion allocation of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)

Our future workforce, innovators, leaders and community members can only reach their full potential through thoughtful development and investment in services and policies that strengthen families and protect children. Given the unprecedented challenges the pandemic has inflicted on Colorado families, there is an urgent need for services and supports made possible by federal, state, and local investments. Access to these services and supports can be instrumental in lowering parent and caregiver stress and incidences of child abuse by providing families the support they need before harm occurs. It is essential for elected officials and policy makers–at every level–to understand how to prevent child maltreatment and listen to parents in every community.

During the last remaining days of this legislative session, the state will work to spend $2 billion of the state’s total $3.8 billion in federal funds. Looking further ahead, the remaining $1.8 billion in federal funds will be held for spending next legislative session, after an interim stakeholder process designed to study changing economic needs over the coming months.

Policymakers and advocates like Illuminate have been hard at work to inform how those funds can be best leveraged for Colorado families. 

The state’s spending plan introduced last week prioritizes services and concrete supports to strengthen family economic security and promote family health and well-being. In addition to COVID pandemic response, the plan includes:

  • Between $400-$550 million for affordable housing and homeownership efforts
  • Between $400-$550 million for mental and behavioral health programs 
  • Approximately $200 million for workforce development and education 
  • Approximately $817 million for economic recovery and relief
  • Between $404- $414 million for transportation and infrastructure, and parks and agriculture 

By investing in services and supports to provide families the support they need before harm occurs, Colorado is strengthening the foundation for families and communities to thrive.

Review the 2021 Policy Agenda

Download the 2021 Illuminating Policy Agenda.

Especially as the legislative session draws to a close, use the Illuminate Colorado Bill Tracker to stay up to date on the progression of bills this session related to strengthening families.

"

Subscribe

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

Continuing the Conversation with Federal Policy Makers to Invest in Prevention

Continuing the Conversation with Federal Policy Makers to Invest in Prevention

Our future workforce, innovators, leaders and community members can only reach their full potential through thoughtful development and investment in services and policies that strengthen families and protect children. Given the unprecedented challenges the pandemic has inflicted on America’s families, there is an urgent need for services and supports made possible by federal policies. Access to these services and supports can be instrumental in lowering parent and caregiver stress and incidences of child abuse by providing families the support they need before harm occurs. It is essential for elected officials and policy makers–at every level–to understand how to prevent child maltreatment and listen to parents in every community.

Review the 2021 Policy Agenda

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

Building on Prevent Child Abuse America’s Digital Advocacy Day last month, the Illuminate team will be participating in Prevent Child Abuse America’s Virtual Capitol Hill Days this week to educate Colorado’s Members of Congress and their staff on issues affecting Colorado children and families, as well as the key federal programs that support them. Along with other PCA chapters, we’ll be elevating three federal policy opportunities for investing in prevention Colorado’s US Senators and US Representatives can support:

9

Prioritizing primary prevention by investing $750 million in Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) grants (Title II of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)) for Fiscal Year 2022.

CBCAP represents the main federal investment in primary prevention for the entire country; however, it has been chronically under-funded. In 2020, CBCAP funded prevention at only 82 cents per child per year, resulting in a great deal of unmet need. Due to the pandemic, parents and caregivers are confronted with extraordinary challenges, including decreased wages or loss of work, lack of adequate childcare, and housing instability, among other hardships that can compound the day-to-day stress of raising children. 

 

CBCAP is designed to help families get the support they need before harm occurs, including voluntary evidence-based home visiting services, community-based parent support programs, early childhood and child care programs, family resource centers, and coordination and  connection with mental health, substance use, and domestic violence services, among  others. Through CAPTA reauthorization, the current 117th Congress has an extraordinary opportunity  to strengthen community-based supports to families to prevent child abuse and neglect. Expanding this program would be transformational for communities and families and greatly expand our capacity as a nation to prevent child abuse and neglect by supporting families. 

9

Increasing current Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program funding by $200 million each year over five years, to a total of $1.4 billion annually.

The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program supports evidence-based, voluntary home visiting services for families. Home visiting is a prevention strategy where highly trained professionals partner with  families to provide personal support from pregnancy through their children’s first years of  life— raising children who are physically, socially, and emotionally healthy and ready to learn.  It has also been shown to reduce rates of child abuse and neglect.

 

Evidence-based home visiting programs have also been shown to reduce  major risks for maternal and infant mortality, giving communities an opportunity to address a  major health concern disproportionately impacting communities of color. While the program’s ability to impact maternal and child health outcomes is clear, years of level funding limit its reach to vulnerable families. Of the 18 million current and expectant  parents who could benefit from MIECHV, only 150,000 currently benefit from the program, reaching only 3 to 5% of eligible families each year based on pre-pandemic estimates. To bring the power of home visiting to more families and promote improved maternal  health outcomes, we need Congress to invest more in MIECHV annually.  

9

Extending the Child Tax Credit expansion to bolster economic support for families.

Strengthening the Child Tax Credit in the recently-passed American Rescue Plan Act may lift as many as four million children out of poverty and significantly cut child poverty for Black and Hispanic children–and could in fact cut child poverty by more than half. Over 90% of children in the US will benefit from the child tax credit expansion in the  American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, ranging from 76% of children in DC to 96% of children in Arkansas.

 

Poverty is an important predictor of child maltreatment and policies that strengthen the economic security of low-income families may reduce child maltreatment. Moreover, economic policies that increase household incomes may decrease familial stress while at the same time increasing child health and well-being. We are hopeful that lawmakers will extend this Child Tax Credit expansion and investment in families. These types of sustained economic supports to families will allow for greater and  better access to child care, home visiting, other human services, etc., leading to increased  family stability and reducing child abuse and neglect.

Investing in prevention at the federal level is among the many policy priorities on the Illuminating 2021 Policy Agenda which highlights policies that build one or more protective factors. As Congress continues to consider CAPTA, MIECHV, and the Child Tax Credit, Illuminate will continue to encourage policymakers to prioritize primary prevention strategies to ensure families have the foundations they need to thrive. 

 

"

Subscribe

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

Reflecting on Progress Toward Prevention During the 2021 Colorado Legislative Session

Prioritizing Prevention in Colorado’s State Budget

Good news: Colorado is poised to prioritize prevention in our state budget. Released Monday, the budget package outlines how the Joint Budget Committee is proposing state resources be allocated for fiscal year 2021-2022, which begins July 1. The budget package was crafted over the last five months and includes the annual general appropriations bill (otherwise known as the “long bill”) and other JBC-sponsored bills related to the budget that are introduced with the long bill.

What we’re excited about in the budget proposal:

When families have information and access to resources to meet basic needs, we strengthen the foundation for families and communities to thrive. By prioritizing prevention–through key focus areas include home visiting, child care, family planning, family resource centers, and adult education–the state budget brings more resources within reach for Colorado families. 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.  

Continued funding for Family Resource Centers through the Family Support Services line item, including a 2.5% increase for community provider rates.

Family Resource Centers play a critical role in Colorado communities, and through continued funding we can ensure they’re able to continue offering critical family services that build protective factors and prevent child maltreatment.

The restoration of the Child Care Services and Substance Use Disorder Treatment Pilot Program line item, which was cut last year.

Restoring this line item means we can ensure more families have real options when it comes to taking care of their behavioral health by making sure that lack of child care isn’t the reason that a pregnant or parenting person can’t access treatment.

The restoration of the High Risk Pregnant Women Program line item (which funds the Special Connections program) in the CDHS budget.

Restoring this line item ensures that specialized treatment providers can continue to serve pregnant and parenting people and offer them options for tailored, family-focused support outside of the child welfare system.

A

What’s we’re still working on:

Ensuring Colorado makes practical existing investments in child maltreatment prevention using the billions of dollars the state will be receiving from the 2021 American Rescue Plan.

 

l

Make Your Voice Heard

To guide how Colorado invests the stimulus money, our state leaders need to hear from us. Submit written feedback HERE if you care about preventing child maltreatment. 

Investing in prevention at the state level is among the many policy priorities on the Illuminating 2021 Policy Agenda which highlights policies that build one or more protective factors. As state legislators continue to work on the state budget, Illuminate is encouraging policymakers to continue prioritizing primary prevention strategies to ensure families have the foundations they need to thrive. 

 

Review the 2021 Policy Agenda

Download the 2021 Illuminating Policy Agenda.

Use the Illuminate Colorado Bill Tracker to stay up to date on the progression of bills this session related to strengthening families.

"

Subscribe

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

Pin It on Pinterest