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
Shaping Colorado’s Early Childhood Landscape

Shaping Colorado’s Early Childhood Landscape

Colorado is at a turning point. Due to the passage of House Bill 1304 Early Childhood System, the state is embarking on a journey to redesign how the state structures early childhood programming by creating a new state Department of Early Childhood, effective July 1, 2022. Over the course of the next year, the Early Childhood Leadership Commission will be developing and approving a transition plan–with input from families and professionals across the state. There is no bigger opportunity for Coloradans to inform systems alignment for family well-being for families with young children–which is why I’m humbled and honored to be named to the Early Childhood Transition Advisory Group. 


As a member of the Early Childhood Transition Advisory Group, I’ll be bringing both Illuminate Colorado’s research-informed family strengthening perspective to the process as well as my experience as a mom of three. Our systems will work better for Colorado families when they are built by Colorado families. 

Healthy brain development is a building process that begins before we are born. The interaction of genes and experiences shapes the developing brain and relationships are the active ingredient in this serve and return process. Cognitive, emotional and social capacities are intertwined, and learning, behavior and physical and mental health are interrelated over the course of our lives. Supporting positive experiences and loving relationships create a strong foundation that helps ensure that a child builds the skills necessary for a lifetime of well-being. 

With a holistic, strengths-based perspective, we can strengthen families by building on what’s working while transforming what isn’t. As I engage in the process, the following will be top of mind:


What the research has shown about the five Protective Factors that have the power to prevent and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. 


The ideas and perspectives voiced through the Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families.


Bold, broad, and universal approaches to supporting family formation and expansion–including home visiting and programs that facilitate social connections for new parents.


Our unique opportunities for proactive community-based support for families impacted by substance use.


Considerations for expanding accessibility and affordability of child care and early childhood education for all families with young children.

Join me in shaping Colorado’s early childhood landscape.

ADD YOUR VOICE to the process by participating in one of the many Early Childhood Transition Planning’s engagement opportunities.

SIGN UP for regular updates on the Department of Early Childhood Transition Planning and Universal Preschool Recommendations process.

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