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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The 2022 Election Results Are In: How Will Colorado’s Kids and Families Be Impacted?

The 2022 Election Results Are In: How Will Colorado’s Kids and Families Be Impacted?

When we actively participate in our communities, we help to strengthen them. Voting in elections is one of the most important ways that we can actively participate in our communities by making our voices heard about the kind of state and nation that we want for ourselves and each other. With the 2022 election in the books, we are reflecting on what the outcomes mean for Colorado children and families.

As enthusiastic participants in Colorado’s Healthy School Meals for All campaign, we are overjoyed that Coloradans voted to ensure that all of Colorado’s public school students will have access to nutritious meals at school, regardless of their family’s income.

 

 STARTING IN THE 2023-2024 SCHOOL YEAR, ALL COLORADO FAMILIES WILL HAVE ACCESS TO SCHOOL MEALS BECAUSE COLORADANS VOTED ‘YES’ ON PROPOSITION FF!

This program, which will take effect starting in the 2023-2024 school year, will support the development of Protective Factors that are proven to strengthen families and communities and prevent child maltreatment. When kids are well-fed, their physical, mental, and social well-being increase and families are able to build Parental Resilience and Social & Emotional Competence of Children, two of the Protective Factors that support the prevention of child maltreatment and set the foundation for kids and families to thrive.

Benefits of the Healthy School Meals for All Program

  • Students whose families’ income is too high to qualify for existing programs but not high enough to afford school meals will no longer go hungry or incur school lunch debt,
  • Families and school administrations will no longer be burdened by the cost and time it takes to complete and process school lunch program enrollment paperwork, 
  • And students and families will no longer be subjected to the stigma that comes with participating in free or reduced-price lunch programs.

Healthy School Meals for All will also incentivize the purchase of ingredients from local food systems, increasing wages for individuals employed by school meal programs, and providing healthier meal options to students by offering:

  • An option to participate in a local procurement grant program that will provide schools with funds to purchase food from local farms and ranches,
  • An option to participate in a grant program that will enable schools to increase pay for the staff who serve and prepare meals for students, and
  • Funding for equipment and training to provide students with healthier meals.

THANK YOU, COLORADO, FOR VOTING TO PROVIDE HEALTHY SCHOOL MEALS FOR ALL OF OUR STATE’S STUDENTS!

 Follow the campaign on social media to learn more & keep up with next steps! 

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OTHER RESULTS OF THE 2022 ELECTION AND HOW THEY WILL IMPACT KIDS AND FAMILIES?

See below for recaps from some of our partners on other election results that impact Colorado’s children and families, including measures related to affordable housing and income tax rates:

  • Colorado Children’s Campaign
  • The Women’s Foundation of Colorado through a gender, racial, & economic lens.
  • From Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
    • Proposition 123 passed and will provide $300M per year for housing affordability and homelessness resolution across Colorado without raising taxes also passed. 
    • Denver voters overwhelmingly supported Question 2K to allow the city to keep excess revenue from a .25 percent sales-and-use tax approved by voters in 2020 for homelessness resolution.
    • Unfortunately, the news is not all good. Coloradans voted in favor of Proposition 121 to decrease the state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.40%, reducing state funding for critical public services and putting more money in the pockets of very wealthy taxpayers and corporations.
  • Alliance for Early Success– includes insights about election results across the nation.

Want to stay updated on state and federal public policy that impacts children and families?

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Select the “Subscribe to advocacy and legislative blog content” checkbox in the “Interested in other programs, training, or topics?” section.

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Are You Ready to Vote this November to Make Your Voice Heard for Colorado Families?

Are You Ready to Vote this November to Make Your Voice Heard for Colorado Families?

It takes all of us to ensure that families in Colorado have what they need to be well and thrive. This November, make your voice heard about the policies you want in place and the leaders who you want to represent your community. The most important way you can help create a Colorado where all families thrive is by voting in the statewide election.

Elected officials and policies up and down the ballot can impact our daily lives and the well-being of our communities. On November 8th, Colorado will be voting on topics ranging from school funding to substance use, infrastructure to taxation, and housing to wildfire prevention and response. The initiatives and candidates that are on the ballot have the potential to influence programs, policies, and funding that directly affect children, families, and communities.

It Takes All of Us to Ensure that Families in Colorado Have What They Need to Be Well and Thrive.

What is Colorado Voting On?

By voting this year, you can ensure all of Colorado’s kids have access to healthy school meals, weigh in on housing issues, decide who will represent you as governor and in the state and U.S. Senate and House, and more! Find more information about what’s on the table this year by exploring The Colorado Health Foundation’s Local Ballot Measure Tracker and learning about which candidates are running for elected office on Ballotpedia.

Have You Made Your Plan to Vote?

The 2022 General Election is on Tuesday, November 8th.

Voting is our chance to stand up for our families and our communities. We ALL deserve to have our voices heard this election season.

 

Check out Go Vote Colorado to register to vote or ensure your mailing address is current.

You can also find information specific to your county here.

Click Here to Check Out Go Vote Colorado!

Register to vote or ensure your mailing address is current.

Here Are Some Key Dates in Colorado: 

  • Monday, October 17th – Counties began mailing ballots to registered voters. 
  • October 24th-November 8th – Drop boxes are available and polling centers are open.
  • Monday, October 31st – Last day to submit or update a voter registration and still receive a ballot in the mail.
  • Tuesday, November 8th – Election Day! Polls will be open 7am-7pm. In Colorado, you can register to vote and vote in person up to 7pm on Election Day. If you filled your ballot out at home, be sure to turn it in at a dropbox by 7pm!

Voting lets us weigh in on the issues that are most important to us and that will make and keep Colorado a great place to live. Be a role model for your community and vote! 

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Colorado Voters Must Act to Ensure that No Child Goes Hungry

Colorado Voters Must Act to Ensure that No Child Goes Hungry

This November, you can ensure all of Colorado’s kids have access to healthy school meals. Election ballots will begin hitting mailboxes later this month, and at Illuminate, we are thrilled by the inclusion of Proposition FF: Healthy School Meals for All, a measure that would make access to school meals free for all students in Colorado starting in the 2023-2024 school year.

The Healthy School Meals for All Program supports the development of Protective Factors that have been proven to strengthen families and communities and prevent child maltreatment. The program ensures that no student goes hungry during the school day, breaking the stigma that comes with programs that only provide free meals to low-income students. Additionally, the Healthy School Meals for All Program incentivizes the purchase of healthy ingredients from local sources.

Proposition FF: Healthy School Meals for All

 Make access to school meals free for all students in Colorado starting in the 2023-2024 school year.

Weighing in on the Conversation

In September, Illuminate Colorado’s Strategic Initiatives Manager, Cassie Davis, sat down virtually with the Healthy School Meals for Colorado campaign to discuss why Illuminate Colorado supports this critical measure. Watch the recording to learn more about the program’s capacity to strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment.

How Can I Help to Ensure that Colorado Provides Healthy School Meals for All of Its Students?

 

Vote YES on Proposition FF on Colorado’s November ballot 

      • Make sure you’re ready to vote on this November’s ballot! In Colorado, you can REGISTER TO VOTE and vote in person until 7 p.m. on Election Day, November 8th. In order to receive a ballot in the mail, the deadline to register to vote or update your registration is October 31.
      • You can also sign up for BallotTrax – a system promoted by the Colorado Secretary of State that will allow you to track your ballot from sent to accepted. Sign up for BallotTrax here!

Click Here to Register to Vote Now!

If you would like to vote by mail, you must be registered by October 31st!

Spread the word to get others to Vote YES on FF! 

      • Talk to your friends and family about why you support the measure and encourage them to do so as well. 
      • Participate in the Healthy School Meals for All Days of Action to educate voters in your community on the topic and ask them to vote YES. 
        • Training, materials, and support will be provided!

Click Here to Participate in the Healthy School Meals for All Days of Action!

Sign up for canvassing shifts to educate voters in your community about Healthy School Meals for All.

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Reflecting Back and Looking Ahead– Being FASD Aware is a Year-Round Endeavor

Reflecting Back and Looking Ahead– Being FASD Aware is a Year-Round Endeavor

At the beginning of September, we called on you to Show Your Respect This FASD Awareness Month. As the month comes to a close, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on all of the efforts that were made to spread awareness this month and look ahead to all that is still needed to work toward prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) and appropriate support for individuals and families in Colorado who are impacted.

 

A Month in Review: FASD Awareness Month 2022

Illuminate kicked the month off by focusing on FASD during our quarterly Luminary Lift Up session. Sharon Langendoerfer, a member of the SuPPoRT Colorado FASD Awareness Work Group and a retired neonatologist and pediatrician, helped attendees to become FASD aware with a presentation on the basics of FASD. The Work Group’s Chair and fierce FASD advocate, Marilyn Fausset, shared highlights about what the work group has accomplished – including the development of a list of Colorado Providers Equipped to Diagnose Under the FASD Umbrella– and what they are working toward moving forward. 

Susan Shepard Carlson, founder of Proof Alliance and FASD United board member, shared an overview of critical pending federal legislation known as ‘The FASD Respect Act’, which would reauthorize funding for prevention, screening, identification, research, and FASD-informed services, and Illuminate staff member, Cassie Davis, shared what the legislation would mean for Colorado and how to get involved in advocating for it.

Illuminate was thrilled to be able to put a major opportunity to advocate for the FASD Respect Act into action during the FASD United Affiliate Summit in Washington D.C. by meeting with the offices of Colorado representatives Diana DeGette and Joe Neguse and Colorado Senator John Hickenlooper to educate them about FASD and share information about and request their support of the pending legislation. 

Throughout the month, Illuminate was also proud to sponsor and participate in Run FASD, a virtual 5k to raise awareness and funds for FASD.

And it’s not just our organization who knows how important it is to be FASD aware, work to prevent FASDs from occurring, and support those who are impacted by it. Governor Jared Polis signed a proclamation in recognition of FASD Awareness Day, which reaffirms that “the health and well-being of the people of Colorado are enhanced by efforts to educate about, prevent, and support those impacted by FASDs”. 

The Work Does Not End Here

While the official FASD Awareness Month is a wonderful time to place a particular emphasis on FASD, creating awareness and advocating for the prevention of and appropriate support for those impacted by FASD is a year-round endeavor. 

Here are just a few of the ways that we need you to continue to spread awareness and advocate beyond September: 

We are so grateful to all of our partners across Colorado and nationwide who tirelessly advocate for visibility and support for the FASD community, and we look forward to continuing to do so together!

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Act Now! Support the Reauthorization and Expansion of Critical Home Visiting Funding

Act Now! Support the Reauthorization and Expansion of Critical Home Visiting Funding

Ensuring children’s earliest relationships and experiences are positive and nurturing lays the foundation for their lifelong health and well-being. At scale, stronger childhoods lead to stronger families and more successful communities. 

Home visiting programs support the creation of these conditions by using a two-generation approach that is proven to reduce child maltreatment, improve positive parenting practices, and increase family economic self-sufficiency by helping parents tap into the skills they already possess and bring out the best in themselves.

Continuing and improving this support to families cannot wait

Despite the proven success and critical nature of these programs, existing Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) funding is both insufficient to meet the needs of all families who need these services and is set to expire on September 30th. 

The unmet need for these services in Colorado is significant: While some level of home visiting services is available in all counties, according to the Child Fatality Prevention System’s 2020 Annual Legislative Report, “Not a single county in Colorado… has home visiting programs to meet the overall needs of families in the county.”

Hope is here!

Thanks to the advocacy of the Home Visiting Coalition, Prevent Child Abuse America, and home visiting advocates around the country, a critical piece of legislation that would both reauthorize and make drastic improvements to federal MIECHV funding– the Jackie Walorski Maternal and Child Home Visiting Reauthorization Act– was recently introduced and unanimously passed by the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee.

This exciting bill would:

  • Bolster the capacity of existing evidence-based programs that are proven to reduce child abuse and neglect by increasing funding for program implementation 
  • Advance equity by doubling the amount of funding that is set aside for Tribal home visiting programs
  • Enable programs to support families in the way that works best for them by continuing to allow visits to be conducted virtually 
Learn more about the proposed legislation here.

What can we do to help? 

Illuminate staff had a chance to meet with Senate and House offices in DC last week to reiterate the importance of this funding for Colorado families– but you don’t have to go to DC to support getting this bill passed!

The Home Visiting Coalition suggests the following key actions in support of this legislation:

  • Reach out to your representative about the need for bipartisan reauthorization. The House Ways and Means Committee’s vote is a big step forward, but Congress needs to enact these policies to realize the opportunity they offer. Meet with, call, and email your Members of Congress to urge them to prioritize a bipartisan MIECHV reauthorization that lifts up the priorities of increased funding, doubling the Tribal set-aside, and allowing virtual home visits.
  • Reach out to U.S. House members requesting their co-sponsorship. Further co-sponsors will help demonstrate the broad bipartisan support for this bill to Congressional leadership. You can see a list of current co-sponsors here.
  • Engage policymakers on social media using this toolkit. Please use these sample messages and tag your Members of Congress to thank them for supporting and co-sponsoring, or to encourage them to do so.

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