Take Action! Congress Can Still Prioritize Family Well-Being This Year

Take Action! Congress Can Still Prioritize Family Well-Being This Year

With the election behind us and the end of this session approaching, Congress has a lot to accomplish before the end of the year. In January, a new Congress will be sworn in so the remaining month of 2022 is the last chance for this version of Congress to pass their priorities. Luckily, the Congressional to-do list includes a number of ways to invest in family well-being as Congress finalizes an end-of-year legislative package. Below, we’ll discuss the to-do list and how you can get involved. 

Reauthorizing the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program.

One of the wisest investments we can make as a nation is in healthy pregnancies and early childhood development. That is why the MIECHV program is so critical. Evidence-based programs that help families provide proper nutrition, mental and behavioral wellbeing, and a loving home pay massive dividends throughout the life of those who are served. Unfortunately, this important bipartisan program is at risk.

If Congress doesn’t act by December 16th to reauthorize the program, it will expire, which would cause untold hardship for the program’s beneficiaries, and negatively affect recruitment and retention of qualified and effective home visitors. That is why Illuminate Colorado has joined the National Home Visiting Coalition and hundreds of other organizations around the country in our support of the bipartisan Jackie Walorski Maternal and Child Home Visiting Reauthorization Act of 2022 (H.R. 8876). Read more about why Illuminate supports MIECHV reauthorization.

“Expiration of MIECHV would cause untold hardship for the program’s beneficiaries, and negatively affect recruitment and retention of qualified and effective home visitors.”

This week, the U.S. House will vote on a major bipartisan MIECHV reauthorization that would increase the program’s funding for the first time ever.

Now is the time to urge our Members of Congress to act, because home visiting works.

Take Action: The U.S. House is expected to vote on this critical bill this week, and we urge its passage without delay. Healthy pregnancies, infant and child health and development, and school readiness are too important for these critical services to slip through the cracks.  Please contact your U.S. Representative and ask them to vote YES on HR 8876 with this easy-to-use Action Alert to help support the first ever expanded funding for the MIECHV program!

Click Here to Take Action Now!

Contact your U.S. Representative and ask them to vote YES on HR 8876 with this easy-to-use Action Alert.

Reauthorizing the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).

CAPTA provides federal funding to states and provides grants to public agencies and nonprofit organizations, including Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations. Through CAPTA reauthorization, the current 117th Congress has an extraordinary opportunity to strengthen community-based supports to families to prevent child abuse and neglect. The reauthorization bill emphasizes prevention and race equity and increases funding for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention. Reauthorizing 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.

“Reauthorizing 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.”

Enhancing Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Policies that strengthen family financial security can go a long way toward reducing childhood adversity and enhancing the relationships that help children thrive. Congress has the chance to enhance the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in the remaining days of this session. The EITC and CTC are known to improve the health and well-being of families who receive them, and can even help kids do better in school and lead healthier, longer lives. Improvements to the CTC alone were largely responsible for cutting our national child poverty rate nearly in half in 2021, lifting 3 million children — including 1 million children under 6 — above the poverty line. However, the expiration of the CTC and EITC improvements, combined with high food costs and rising rents, sent many families with children back to experiencing significant material hardship, increasing child hunger and suffering.

“Improvements to the CTC alone were largely responsible for cutting our national child poverty rate nearly in half in 2021, lifting 3 million children — including 1 million children under 6 — above the poverty line.”

Take Action: If your organization takes positions on policy, join Illuminate in signing on to the joint letter led by First Focus Campaign for Children by filling out this form by 5 pm ET on Monday, December 5, 2022.

Click Here to Call on Congressional Leaders to enhance the CTC and EITC!

Fill out this form by 5 pm ET on Monday, December 5, 2022.

 

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Art for Advocacy: Register Today for Strolling Thunder Colorado 2022!

Art for Advocacy: Register Today for Strolling Thunder Colorado 2022!

Make your voice heard with and for Colorado families with young children! Join Illuminate Colorado and our partners on Oct. 1 for the fifth annual Strolling Thunder Colorado. This year’s family-friendly event will be held virtually from 9:30 – 11 a.m.  

Join families and advocates from around the state as we raise our voices using art for policies that families with young children need. Illuminate is proud to be a hosting partner of Strolling Thunder because child care, paid leave, and other family supports strengthen the foundation for families and communities to thrive. 

 

Learn more from our friends at the Colorado Children’s Campaign and register for the event below:

At Strolling Thunder, attendees raise their voices for babies and their families in a fun, family-friendly setting. The event celebrates recent wins at the legislature, brings attention to what families need to thrive, and helps participants connect with their state and local elected officials. This year’s event theme is “Art for Advocacy.” Register today by clicking here. All who register by Sept. 17 will receive an art kit for the art activity and a care package before the event.  

 

Strolling Thunder Colorado brings together people who care about babies and their families at an event featuring guest speakers, story time, a dance party, an art activity, and an advocacy training. Each year, it encourages elected officials to make pregnant people, babies, and their families a priority when policy decisions are made. The event is hosted by Raise Colorado, Clayton Early Learning, Colorado Association for Education of Young Children (COAEYC), Colorado Children’s Campaign, Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance (ECCLA), Illuminate Colorado, and ZERO TO THREE.  

As a part of this event, Raise Colorado is asking community members to share photos of them and their children strolling – whether that be taking a walk in a park or pushing their child in a stroller, as well as a quote sharing why they think it is important to prioritize pregnant people, babies, and their families in Colorado. This is optional, and photos and quotes will be shared at the event and possibly on host organizations’ website. To make a submission, please click here.

Register for Strolling Thunder Today!

Register by clicking here before September 17th to receive an art kit for the art activity and a care package prior to the event!

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Colorado Substance Exposed Newborn Effort Name Change: Introducing SuPPoRT Colorado

Colorado Substance Exposed Newborn Effort Name Change: Introducing SuPPoRT Colorado

Our collaborative effort has a new name! Moving forward, the groups that were previously referred to as the Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns (SEN) Steering Committee, Family Advisory Board, and associated Work/Advisory Groups will be collectively known as Supporting Perinatal substance use Prevention, Recovery, and Treatment in Colorado (SuPPoRT Colorado). SuPPoRT Colorado will continue to work toward the same vision of a Colorado that equitably serves all families through prevention and reduction of substance use during pregnancy and provides multigenerational support for families to thrive, under a name that more accurately reflects our mission, values, and the work we do.

Aligning Our Name with Our Mission and Values

Hear from Family Advisory Board and Steering Committee members in their own words why they chose to make this name change:

The name change is important because it has a supportive person center description. I think it is important to keep the recovery from SUD during pregnancy in the title too so that it is also focused on the solution.”

Ashley Miller

Family Advisory Board member

“The new name, SuPPoRT Colorado: Supporting Perinatal substance use Prevention, Recovery, and Treatment in Colorado, is now inclusive of those who are affected by perinatal substance use throughout their entire lives. Effects of fetal alcohol exposure often require lifelong supports.”

Marilyn Fausset

Parent advocate, FASD Work Group Co-chair & Steering Committee member

“I really appreciate that the new name “SuPPoRT Colorado” shifts the focus from the newborn’s exposure to the support provided to both the newborn and the parent(s) related to prevention, treatment and recovery.”

Deborah Monaghan, MD, MSPH

Medical Director at Office of Children, Youth and Families-CDHS, Steering Committee member

“The name change reflects our commitment to learning with and from families, providers, researchers, and advocates. The new name better embraces our commitment to data-informed action that is family-led and community-based.”

Courtney L. Everson, PhD

Senior Researcher/Project Director at Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab, Data & Research Advisory Group Co-chair & Steering Committee member

“As our work has continued to evolve over the last 14 years, it only seems fitting that our language evolves too. Our new name “SuPPoRT Colorado” better reflects our continued commitment to families across the lifespan.”

Jade Woodard, MPA

Executive Director of Illuminate Colorado, founding Steering Committee Co-chair

“Rising to meet the current needs and opportunities in our state has been core to our collaborative work since the very beginning, and I’m looking forward to the impact we’ll have in this next phase as “SuPPoRT Colorado.”

Kathi Wells, MD, FAAP

Executive Director of the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse & Neglect, founding Steering Committee Co-chair

The Steering Committee was originally established in 2008 and is a subcommittee of the Colorado Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force. In 2019, the Family Advisory Board (FAB) to the Steering Committee was formed in order to elevate the voices of families who have experienced, directly or indirectly, the impacts of substance use during pregnancy. A reflection of the shared leadership of the Steering Committee and FAB, changing our initiative’s name to  SuPPoRT Colorado marks an exciting new chapter in our ongoing collaborative efforts to identify and implement strategies for reducing the number of families impacted by substance use during pregnancy and for improving outcomes for families across the lifespan.  

Beginning in April of 2021, the Steering Committee and FAB began a process to revisit our language and explore a name change to better align our name with our shared mission and values. Over the last year, the FAB and Steering Committee engaged in a process to identify ideas and ultimately choose our new name. Along the way, small ad-hoc groups of Steering Committee and Family Advisory Board members led the thinking with multiple opportunities for members across the effort to weigh in. We’re so grateful and excited to officially launch our new name and logo that was crafted with the input of so many dedicated partners.

Visit the SuPPoRT Colorado webpage to learn more about our history, vision, and mission,  click here to learn more about the current work, and sign up to join the effort here!

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Illuminating Policy in 2022

Illuminating Policy in 2022

The regular session of the Colorado General Assembly kicked off on Wednesday, January 12th, and Illuminate Colorado is continuing its commitment to ensuring Colorado’s state policies build brighter childhoods for all Coloradans.

Illuminate has prioritized 2022 policy solutions to be responsive to what Colorado families need today. In addition, and built on research-informed protective factors, the Illuminate Colorado Policy Framework offers an organized approach for advancing family strengthening now and into the future.  

Click here to see the full Policy Framework with key highlights about how each policy builds specific protective factors in Colorado, or read the high-level summary of both below.

In 2022, we will be particularly focusing our advocacy efforts to:

    • Dedicate ongoing funding for community education about child sexual abuse prevention 
    • Improve Colorado Works for families
    • Ensure child care access for parents accessing behavioral health care
    • Support the recommendations of the Home Visiting Investment Task Force
    • Standardize mandatory reporting

Illuminating Policy Prevents Child Maltreatment

The Illuminate Colorado 2022 Policy Agenda highlights policies that build one or more protective factors in Colorado. But more broadly, Illuminate approaches its advocacy efforts based on the following framework:

Primary Prevention

These strategies build protective factors in all families to prevent child maltreatment before it occurs–including advancing equity by addressing systemic barriers to building protective factors.

    • Prioritize primary prevention in federal and state budgets by investing in proven services and professional education that support families and keep kids safe. 
    • Strengthen economic security for families.
    • Implement family-friendly work policies.

Secondary Prevention

This focused strategy builds protective factors in families in high stress situations to prevent child maltreatment before it occurs.

    • Ensure and expand tailored, non-stigmatizing, and culturally responsive support for families impacted by: 
        • Behavioral health, including both parental and pediatric
        • Intellectual and developmental disabilities, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
        • Intimate partner violence

Tertiary Prevention

This strategy builds protective factors in families to prevent recurrence of child  maltreatment–including addressing systemic barriers to healing and 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.

    Investing in programs and policies that support families to overcome and bounce back from life’s challenges enables children to achieve their potential and grow up to be good neighbors and productive community members. It is essential for elected officials and policy makers to understand how to prevent child maltreatment and listen to parents in every community.

    Subscribe

    Stay up to date on policy that prevents child maltreatment and the 2022 Illuminating Policy Agenda by subscribing to Illuminate Colorado’s blog.

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    Birthing Hospitals Poised to Help Every Baby Sleep Safe in Colorado

    Birthing Hospitals Poised to Help Every Baby Sleep Safe in Colorado

    Many years ago, hospitals weren’t required to ensure that new babies went home in a car seat. That simple act of normalizing car seat safety as infants leave the hospital and head home with new, and often overwhelmed, parents and caregivers has no doubt saved countless lives. Today, hospitals can play a similarly crucial role in helping every baby sleep safe.

     

    It’s as Easy as ABC

    More than 61,000 babies are born in Colorado every year.1 Those first days and months are full of joy and stress for every family, so it’s important that each baby is surrounded by parents, family, friends, neighbors, licensed and unlicensed child care providers, health care professionals and communities working to create environments for infants to thrive and sleep safely.

    Health care providers and hospital staff are sources of trusted information for new parents and have a critical opportunity to help families thrive, even after a family has left the hospital, by focusing on safe sleep in these precious first few days together.

    And the ABC’s of safe sleep are simple and easy: babies should be Alone on their Backs and in a Crib. This means that babies should sleep on their backs on a firm, flat surface, separate from adults or others, without any bumpers, soft bedding or stuffed toys.     

    Birthing Hospitals Are the First Step

    Birthing hospitals play a critical role in teaching new parents and caregivers what safe sleep practices look like–so much so that, in the Colorado Child Fatality Prevention System’s most recent annual legislative report, one of the recommendations made following the review of child fatalities in Colorado was to support policies that expand education, modeling and discharge safety screening in birthing hospitals.

    According to the report, at least six states require hospitals and health care providers to give parents and caregivers educational materials and information on infant safe sleep practices within health care settings, during a hospital stay or at discharge.2,3 The depth and breadth of safe sleep practices and policies at Colorado’s birthing hospitals is not widely or easily known.

    Hospitals have multiple options for demonstrating their commitment to safe sleep in practice:

    Shifting Practice through Cribs for Kids

    For hospitals looking for a straightforward place to start, the Cribs for Kids National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program may be the best fit. Hospitals participating in this no-cost program receive resources and support in drafting safe sleep policies for their organization, training for all health care providers in safe sleep, safe sleep educational materials for families and caregivers, support for modeling safe sleep in all settings (labor and delivery, NICUs, etc.), and messaging around safe sleep in alignment with the AAP’s recommendations.

    Cribs for Kids also provides a step-by-step hospital certification toolkit that guides organizations through certification requirements at the bronze, silver or gold levels depending on their commitments, policies and practices related to infant safe sleep. Of all the hospitals in Colorado, only one is currently certified by Cribs for Kids: Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, which is certified at the gold level.4

    Certification programs like Cribs for Kids are just a start for shifting practice and addressing families’ needs. For long term changes in practice, ongoing support and accountability–such as through a quality improvement approach–are needed to sustain change. Additionally, input from families, especially around considerations for cultural responsiveness, linguistic accessibility and social and economic needs, is needed to develop hospital efforts that truly work for Colorado families.

    While the first few days at a hospital are only one part of a new or expanding family’s safe sleep journey, Colorado has an opportunity–and an obligation–to shift practice in order to give our families the strongest and safest start possible.

    Get Involved in October--and Beyond

    >> October is Safe Sleep and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month. Illuminate has put together some of our favorite resources to help community members and organizations alike raise awareness about this important topic, but it will take a sustained effort far beyond this month to create safe sleep for every baby everywhere in Colorado. 

    >> Click HERE to learn more about the Colorado Infant Safe Sleep Partnership‘s mission to support families, providers, organizations and policymakers to increase infant safe sleep practices and address related barriers and disparities through education, practice change and systems improvement.

    >> Sign up to receive our safe sleep newsletter to receive more updates on this important work and ideas for parents, caregivers, organizations and communities to create safe sleep for every baby everywhere.   

    Citations
    1. Colorado Health Information Dataset (CoHID), Live Birth Statistics, Counts, 2020 Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment retrieved on August 2021 from https://cohealthviz.dphe.state.co.us/t/HealthInformaticsPublic/views/COHIDLiveBirthsDashboard/LiveBirthStatistics. 
    2. The Network for Public Health Law. (2017). SUID Prevention, Infant Safe Sleep Law Table: Legal Provisions Relating to SUID Prevention in 5 States. Research conducted for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. To access: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NcPJerdHa1QrENg4nAdB2BPXqOeqJ8nl/view?usp=sharing
    3. Child Fatality Prevention System. (2021). Child Fatality Prevention System Annual Legislative Report. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 41-42.
    4. National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). (2015). Sudden unexpected infant death legislation.

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