Prevention Through Partnership

Prevention Through Partnership

“Prevention happens in partnership” is a phrase often repeated by the Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse America (PCAA), Dr. Melissa Merrick. As the Colorado chapter of PCAA these words rang especially true for us at Illuminate Colorado in 2021. As we began to emerge from the pandemic and find our new normal, only to experience resurgences and continued restrictions, the power of connection and innovation was continually underscored.

Despite the ever-changing environment around us, 2021 brought more partnerships, opportunities and successes to Illuminate than ever before:

  • Illuminate participated in the Home Visiting Investment Task Force and deepened our engagement in home visiting as a prevention strategy by becoming the state lead for Healthy Families America, PCAA’s signature evidence based home visitation program and beginning exploration of Family Connects, a universal model for supporting families welcoming a new baby.

  • Illuminating Child Care launched its second classroom, Acorn, supporting families in the San Luis Valley, and established a new partnership with Children First, the Pueblo Early Childhood Council, to serve as the home for a third classroom.

  • Two additional educational curricula were released and Illuminate led the development of research and recommendations focused on the prevention of child sexual abuse.

  • Illuminate collaborated with cross-system partners on the Substance Exposed Newborns Rule Writing Work Group, the Plans of Safe Care Work Group, the Safe Child Care Task Force, and on the development of Colorado’s funded grant applications for Family Support through Primary Prevention and Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems.

As we continue in this work, our programs, strategies and initiatives are broad, and our subject matter expertise, partnerships and passion are deep. We remain dedicated to increasing our impact, deepening our relationships and building brighter childhoods in Colorado.

Read our latest annual report to learn more about Illuminate Colorado’s work in 2021.

Join Us!

This annual benefit dedicated to lighting the way for passionate individuals, dedicated professionals and impactful organizations to make a difference in the lives of kids in Colorado will be our in-person fundraising event since 2019.

Help us celebrate the release of our 2021 Annual Report and have fun raising funds to support strengthening families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment. 

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Illuminate Colorado’s Statement on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

Illuminate Colorado’s Statement on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

Like many Americans, we are still processing what the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade means for families. We are grateful for the advocacy led by Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) and Cobalt on the Reproductive Health Equity Act HB22-1279, which protects pregnant people’s rights to access reproductive care, including abortion, in Colorado.

Children do well when their parents, caregivers and communities do well. Ensuring pregnant people have accessible and responsive reproductive and maternal health care is crucial to family well-being. Research shows that abortion access increases educational attainment and workforce participation among women and improves outcomes for children.1 Protecting women’s and families’ ability to determine and exercise their own reproductive choices equates to advancing broader economic equity and social justice for women and families for generations to come and is all the more important for people who already face systemic obstacles to health care and economic opportunity.234 Access to concrete supports in times of need—including comprehensive health care that is inclusive of abortion services—is a research-based protective factor that lowers the risk of child abuse and neglect, and is a key way to ensure that families get off to the best possible start. 

At Illuminate Colorado, our values and foundations call us to focus on ensuring people have the supports and resources they need to thrive – not dictating what people can decide about their bodies and their futures. In particular, our organizational foundation of being Family and Community Driven means that we believe families and communities are experts of their own experiences and should be in the driver’s seat of their lives. While we are disheartened by the Supreme Court’s decision, we are also motivated. Together, we remain committed to advocating to ensure all families can determine their pathway to parenthood, which ultimately will lead to more safe, healthy and thriving families.

Necessary and Adequate Medical Care for Your Child is Not Child Abuse
Citations

1) The Economic Effects of Abortion Access: A Review of the Evidence, The Institute for Women’s Policy Research, iwpr.org/iwpr-issues/reproductive-health/the-economic-effects-of-abortion-access-a-review-of-the-evidence/

2) Linking Reproductive Health Care Access to Labor Market Opportunities for Women, Bahn, Kugler, Mahoney, Corley, and McGrew  2017.

3) The Costs of Reproductive Health Restrictions, The Institute for Women’s Policy Research, iwpr.org/costs-of-reproductive-health-restrictions/

4) The Turnaway Study, ANSIRH, www.ansirh.org/research/ongoing/turnaway-study

 

 

Jade Woodard

Jade Woodard

Executive Director

Jade has served as the Executive Director of Illuminate Colorado since its inception in 2015, following 7 years as the Executive Director of founding partner agency, the Colorado Alliance for Drug Endangered Children. 

Supporting Better Beginnings Through HB22-1295

Supporting Better Beginnings Through HB22-1295

Colorado prospers when our youngest children thrive because they are our future workers, leaders and community members. No matter where they live–the plains, mountains, rural areas or urban centers–children need high-quality experiences and loving relationships to support healthy development. That’s why Illuminate Colorado supports House Bill 22-1295 Department Early Childhood And Universal Preschool Program, which unifies Colorado’s early childhood system to provide the best experience for both families and providers.

Illuminate Colorado is proud to join early childhood advocates from across the state as part of the Coalition for Better Beginnings Colorado. Guided by a deep commitment to families and providers, the Coalition for Better Beginnings Colorado aims to ensure the new Department of Early Childhood provides the easiest, most accessible system to set all children and families up for a lifetime of opportunity. Together, our diverse array of voices provide knowledge and perspective on the best practices for creating high-quality, accessible early childhood programs for all.

How would the bill strengthen Coloradans?

HB22-1295 will address the many challenges Colorado families, early childhood educators, caregivers and providers are currently facing. Specifically, House Bill 22-1295 ensures families and providers have access to:

    • One high-quality early childhood system–including critical family strengthening programs and services like home visiting and family resource centers.
    • One simple enrollment application–reducing the burden on families and providers.
    • One universal preschool program–offering preschool to all families with kids the year before kindergarten, with extended hours for those who will benefit the most.

Illuminate has engaged in the Transition Advisory Group, participated in the process to establish the Department of Early Childhood and informed the development of this unified system. In particular, we are very supportive of the integration of critical family strengthening programs that prioritize the holistic well-being of children and families. Learn more about the bill by visiting the coalition website

Together, our diverse array of voices provide knowledge and perspective on the best practices for creating high-quality, accessible early childhood programs for all.

Jade Woodard

Executive Director, Illuminate Colorado

How can I get involved?

HB22-1295 made it all the way through the House and passed the Senate Education Committee last week. The bill will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Friday morning. As this bill makes its way through the legislature, your voice is critical in shaping its success.  By sharing your experiences with your legislators, you can help to pass this bill that will meet the needs of kids and families. Act now to pass HB22-1295 to ensure the new Department of Early Childhood creates better beginnings for all children and families.

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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Necessary and Adequate Medical Care for Your Child is Not Child Abuse

Organizational Statement Opposing the Actions of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

Providing necessary and adequate medical care to your child is not child abuse, and transgender and non-binary children need access to age-appropriate, individualized medical care just like every other child. 

Recently Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion classifying medically necessary gender-affirming care to youth as child abuse. AG Paxton’s statement stands in direct opposition to the evidence-based care recognized by numerous professional societies, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, Endocrine Society, and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Illuminate Colorado can not stand idly by without speaking out against such an action simply because our programs and initiatives are focused on creating a Colorado where all children and families thrive. The children and families of Texas deserve our love and support as well as those in our own communities.

Our organization is proud to join our national partner Prevent Child Abuse America and numerous medical providers and child welfare advocates throughout our nation in opposing this legislation and laws that would deny healthcare access to any child, regardless of their gender identity. Such laws threaten the safety and security of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens — children and youth.

Necessary and Adequate Medical Care for Your Child is Not Child Abuse

Additionally, transgender youth are subject to violence based on their gender identity, and suffer substance misuse, homelessness, suicidality, child welfare involvement and other negative outcomes at distressingly higher rates. Medical and mental health care can reduce serious risks to their health and well-being and lead to healthy, resilient children, youth, and families.

Please take action to strengthen the foundations of love, safety and support that enable all of our nation’s children to thrive. 

Contact Your State Legislators

Let them know you do not want similar legislation that prevents access to medically necessary care for any children and youth, including those whose gender identity is transgender or non-binary here in Colorado.  To find your state legislators, click here.

Share this Statement on Social Networks

Let others know you too recognize that providing necessary and adequate medical care to your child is not child abuse, and transgender and non-binary children need access to age-appropriate, individualized medical care just like every other child.

Make a Similar Statement From Your Organization

This is one way we can protect the children of Colorado and create an environment where they are valued, healthy and thriving. 

Thank you for building brighter childhoods, together.

Jade Woodard

Jade Woodard

Executive Director

Jade has served as the Executive Director of Illuminate Colorado since its inception in 2015, following 7 years as the Executive Director of founding partner agency, the Colorado Alliance for Drug Endangered Children. 

Pivoting During a Pandemic

Pivoting During a Pandemic

The year 2020 brought with it unprecedented challenges and opportunities to fulfill our mission to strengthen families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment. Monitoring local and national health reports and directives regarding the spread of COVID-19 and the resulting school closures, reduced child care services and isolation placing children and families at greater risk of experiencing toxic stress and child maltreatment, and taking into consideration the often intense stress our employees and community partners were under at work and at home, Illuminate Colorado made many adjustments throughout the year in order to continue supporting the communities with which we partner. At the same time, we engaged in conversations on systemic racism, discrimination and inequities. We listened to and elevated families and communities with lived experiences.

2020 Annual Report

We learned, adapted and continue these tough conversations today because pervasive and systemic racism, both overt and passive, causes stress and trauma that can physically change a child’s brain and inhibit children from reaching their full potential. We know it is critical to address stress, trauma and the root causes of racism and white supremacy in order to create the conditions for children and families to thrive.

In the midst of it all, I am so proud of our staff and the support that we received from the community and the Paycheck Protection Program, which enabled us to avoid downsizing our staff or lessening our impact during the pandemic. As a small business employer, we’ve continued to find new ways to build our employees’ resilience and continue on a path toward a Colorado where all children and families thrive by:

  • launching a new innovative program, Illuminating Child Care, increasing access to child care for families addressing challenges;
  • bringing a new research-informed training to Colorado, Youth ThriveTM, focused on building protective and promotive factors with youth; and
  • facilitating a new collaborative space, the Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families, seeking to create the conditions for all children and families to thrive.

These are just some of the ways our organization was able to pivot during a global pandemic, highlighted in this annual report. Along the way, we learned from our experiences together, taking with us what works into the post-pandemic reality that awaits us all.

2020 Annual Report Timeline

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