This Digital Advocacy Day, Speak Up to Prevent Child Abuse

This Digital Advocacy Day, Speak Up to Prevent Child Abuse

Prevent Child Abuse (PCA) America’s Digital Advocacy Day is today, April 27th! YOU can participate by reaching out to your members of Congress and using your voice to urge them to support children and families across Colorado and nationwide.

How can I get involved?

This Digital Advocacy Day, please join Illuminate Colorado, and our partners across the country, in contacting lawmakers to urge them to act now to reauthorize and increase funding for the bipartisan Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program.

As the Colorado chapter of PCA and a member of our state’s Home Visiting Investment Task Force, Illuminate Colorado enthusiastically supports the importance of maintaining and bolstering the infrastructure necessary to offer high-quality home visiting services to families across our state.

Get involved by emailing, tweeting, posting on social media, and/or calling your senators and representatives. For more resources, such as key messages, tweets, and graphics to help you communicate with your representative easily and effectively, please visit preventchildabuse.org/2022-digital-advocacy-day or see the resources below. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the PCA America policy team at pcaapolicyteam@preventchildabuse.org.

Send an Email in Two Easy Clicks

Your members of Congress need to hear from you! We have the extraordinary opportunity to educate lawmakers about evidence-based home visiting programs and its positive impact on families and children.

Background Information

The MIECHV program is a federal grant to states, territories, and Tribes that supports evidence-based home visiting for families and children from the prenatal period through the time that children start kindergarten. While the program’s ability to positively impact maternal and child health outcomes–including by reducing child maltreatment, improving positive parenting practices, and improving family economic self-sufficiencyis clear, the current funding level limits its ability to reach the children and families who need it most. Only 150,000 of the 18 million current and expectant parents who could benefit from the program receive services.

In our state in particular, 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.”

To bring the power of home visiting to more families and promote improved maternal health outcomes, we need Congress to reauthorize and increase funding. Specifically, we’re requesting that Congress: 

  • Increase MIECHV funding over the next five years to reach more families and better support the workforce
  • Double the tribal set-aside within MIECHV from 3% to 6%
  • Continue to allow virtual home visiting with model fidelity as an option for service delivery

Key Messages
  • The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program is a federal grant to states, territories and Tribes that supports evidence-based home visiting for families and children from prenatal period through kindergarten entry. The law that authorizes MIECHV will expire in September 2022.
  • Home visiting programs are a prevention strategy used to support pregnant moms and new parents as they work through the challenges of raising babies and young children.
  • Home visiting programs help new and expectant parents develop the skills and confidence it takes to raise healthy families.
  • Home visiting prevents adversity and builds resilience by being there during a child’s most critical years of development (prenatal to age five).
  • Evidence-based home visiting programs, such as Healthy Families America, prevent and reduce the recurrence of child maltreatment, promote healthy child development, and enhance family well-being. Among many other positive outcomes, families who participate in HFA and other home visiting programs have shown reductions in the number of low-birthweight babies, improved school readiness for children, and increased economic self-sufficiency.
  • For nearly 30 years, HFA has worked toward a singular vision: all children receive nurturing care from their family that leads to a healthy, long, and successful life. All families can benefit from support during pregnancy and throughout early childhood owing to the enormous life transitions and rapid growth occurring during this time.
  • HFA serves nearly 70,000 families across the United States each year, with nearly 600 sites in 38 states, the District of Columbia, and five US territories. Approximately 30% of HFA families served are supported through MIECHV funding.
  • Local implementation of HFA is funded through a variety of mechanisms, including federal funds such as MIECHV, state funds (including Medicaid and TANF) and local and private funding.
Sample Tweets
  • Invest in our children’s future, reauthorize home visiting #MIECHV funding. Make #GreatChildhoods happen all year long! @PCAAmerica @HFAatPCA
  • Today, April 27th, is our third annual Digital Advocacy Day. You can help us grow online word-of-mouth and show your support for policies and programs that support all children and families with a few simple steps. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3IS3aj7 #GrowingBetterTogether
Find Your Members of Congress
What important dates should I be aware of?

Digital Advocacy Day is April 27th. Use the resources on this page to contact your elected officials and spread the word about policy changes that’s vital to the well-being of children and their families.

The law that authorizes MIECHV will expire in September 2022. The House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over MIECHV will begin to hold hearings in the spring and into the summer in preparation for the reauthorization of MIECHV.

What do I need to know about the difference between education, advocacy, and lobbying?

Advocacy or Education is public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy. Lobbying is seeking to influence (a politician or public official) on an issue or a specific ask such as supporting la piece of legislation.​

There are many avenues of advocacy that nonprofits can engage in that do not constitute lobbying. ​Advocacy happens in many different ways, but at its core it’s about raising awareness, building and leveraging relationships, and educating others around the issues and policies that matter to you. There are varying degrees in which an HFA site, PCA chapter, or nonprofit organization, can engage in advocacy that do not cross into lobbying. Advocacy can include such activities as:

  • Educating and informing lawmakers
  • Helping to shape state laws and budgets
  • Making your voice(s) heard about important issues that affect our daily lives
  • Helping policymakers find solutions to problems
  • Providing critical information for adoption or rejection of introduced legislation
  • Urging the public to contact policy makers to advocate for adoption or rejection of legislation

On the other end of the spectrum are lobbying activities. Key lobbying activities include activities in direct support or opposition to a specific piece of proposed legislation. While nonprofits can engage in some lobbying, the IRS has strict rules regarding the percentage of a nonprofit’s budget that can go toward lobbying activities. It’s recommended that any agency follow the rules and guidelines as set around lobbying and advocacy when engaging with lawmakers.

Questions?

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the PCA America policy team at pcaapolicyteam@preventchildabuse.org.

To bring the power of home visiting to more families and promote improved maternal health outcomes, we need Congress to reauthorize and increase funding. The law that authorizes the MIECHV program will expire in September 2022, so we need your voice now more than ever.

 Specifically, we’re requesting that Congress: 

    • Increase MIECHV funding over the next five years to reach more families and better support the workforce
    • Double the tribal set-aside within MIECHV from 3% to 6%
    • Continue to allow virtual home visiting with model fidelity as an option for service delivery

This crucial investment in our children and families will support resources at the state and community level that reduce challenges and stressors on parents. Therefore, we have the extraordinary opportunity to educate lawmakers about evidence-based home visiting programs such as Healthy Families America, spread the word about vital policy change, and encourage action on issues that increase positive childhood experiences and prevent child abuse and neglect.

Remember – advocate for children and families where you live. Make your voice heard by contacting your elected officials today, April 27th. Together, we can prevent childhood abuse and ensure families have what they need to thrive.

In October 2018 I experienced every parents worst nightmare: my three and a half year-old son passed away. After that tragedy, I was offered a whirlwind of supportive services, counseling, classes, family and friends coming to offer support. Every single one played a part in my healing process. What I found most life-altering was my home visiting program.

Alexa Chenoweth

Review the 2022 Policy Agenda

The Illuminate Colorado 2022 Policy Agenda highlights policies that build one or more protective factors in Colorado. Download the full Policy Agenda to learn more.

Bill Tracker

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

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A big reason I’ve become so involved in my community and eager to support parents is because of my own personal story and experience receiving support. In October 2018 I experienced every parents worst nightmare: my three and a half year-old son passed away. After that tragedy, I was offered a whirlwind of supportive services, counseling, classes, family and friends coming to offer support. Every single one played a part in my healing process. What I found most life-altering was my home visiting program. 

Home visitors provided a listening ear, in-home coaching and support. They showed up and sat with me in my grief, my worry, my frustration. They listened to my struggles without judgement and genuinely created an atmosphere of friendship. My home visitors helped me to carry the emotional load of parenthood, as well as make sure my children were on track developmentally. Having that extra set of eyes helps you feel better about what you are doing as a parent. 

Not only do home visitors offer parenting advice and comradery, they can also refer you to social services if you lose your job or need a doctor or therapist. They can help you apply for social services like LEAP or TANF. They bring gifts. They bring new ideas and they’ll help you find a child care center. They are always there with the knowledge and the know-how to meet you where you are and give you the hand up to get to where you want to be. 

Home visiting support helped me through the most unimaginable grief a person can experience. And I will never be able to say thank you enough to those who have helped me become who I am now through all of that pain. 

After leaving my job in 2020 due to the pandemic, my home visitor suggested I join the Early Childhood Leadership Commission’s Home Visiting Investment Task Force as a parent voice as a way to stimulate my brain and give back to the community that gave so much to me. The task force works to guide the implementation of the home visiting strategic plan leading to the creation of a continuum of home visiting services in Colorado, something I am so looking forward to seeing. 

it was also suggested to me to enroll my children in the Colorado Head Start program, a federal program that promotes the school readiness of children from birth to age five. After enrolling, I took on an additional role for my region’s Head Start Association. As a parent in Head Start, I’m given the peace of mind that my children are given great preparation in school readiness. They also ensure that my children are receiving social and emotional developmental support. I’m encouraged to be a teacher for my children and given the materials to support what my girls are learning. As a parent president and board member, I get to have a say in the future education of my children and other children who will go through the program. Centro de la Familia’s Head Start program is an invaluable resource that has helped me connect to my children on a deeper level.

Having the personal connections and support offered to me through home visiting helped me get out of the deep dark hole I was in years ago. A few short years ago I had no idea how to go on, how to move forward and show up everyday for the people in my life, including myself. And now, I get the opportunity to be present in my children’s lives on a new level. We love to play dress-up, cook together, read, swim, sing and dance. We get to be silly and happy. I have the confidence that I don’t know everything and I won’t get everything right, but I do have a team of people I trust to pick me up when I stumble. 

Concrete supports are among the five critical protective factors known to prevent child maltreatment and strengthen families. It is my hope that other parents and caregivers who find themselves in a hole, who want to better themselves as parents, or who would like a friend to come sit with them for awhile, remember that there is concrete support here for them. I am forever grateful that it was here for me. 

Alexa Chenoweth

Alexa Chenoweth

Alexa is from Rifle, Colorado. As a mom to two daughters- an almost one-year-old and four-year-old she is a parent representative on the Home Visiting Investment Task Force and a board member for the Region 8 Head Start Association. She is sharing her lived experiences so that children and families can grow and thrive together.  She has a deep understanding of what needs to happen at a community level in order to transform systems so that families get the preventative support they need, having experienced grief and high stress while parenting her young children.   

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I never thought I would ever become homeless until it happened. A number of events led me to a point in my life where I needed to find a temporary home so that I could start working to rebuild my life from the ground up and continue to support my basic needs and be there for my son. I want to share and highlight a few community support programs that have had a big impact on my life and that of my son’s because I know that it is so important to breakdown the stigma of getting support as a parent. But first, I want to tell you about my son.

I am a father to a 9 year-old boy who has has the funniest sense of humor. He has this awesome joy inside of him that marvels over the simplest things, like a dollar store toy, a plastic device that makes snowballs or even a pack of gum. And, through his wonderment of these things he teaches me that life doesn’t have to be so complex and I too can enjoy the simple moments. My son and I have an amazingly strong relationship built on trust, love and the ability to learn and grow…together. I am honored and privileged to be a father.

But, parenting isn’t always easy. There’s no book to follow on how to be a perfect parent and it can be difficult at times. The good news is there’s so many resources in all of our communities that are reaching out to us to provide services, programs and support as we navigate our parental journey. These are just a few of the community organizations that have made an impact on my family in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Springs Rescue Mission

It was late in the year and it started to get cold outside. I had exhausted all other resources and had to find housing very quickly. As I entered the shelter at Springs Rescue Mission for the very first time, I was greeted with open arms and care. Immediately, I had a bed and began to learn what resources were available to me.

The caregivers at Springs Rescue Mission were amazing at connecting me to everything I needed. I had some medical issues and was put into contact with a doctor within days. I was shown where to get food at a number of locations. As you might imagine, my stress and anxiety levels were high and I was quickly connected to a provider to manage my mental health. When it came to generating income, Springs Rescue Mission was able to provide me with electricity and internet access so that I could continue to support the remote clients that I had. They also had jobs posted every week and clinics available for resume building and interviewing skills.

When times were difficult, I could reach out and talk to any of the shelter employees and they listened to me as we talked through issues that affected me as a parent. I can’t thank Springs Rescue Mission enough for supporting my basic needs, connecting me to all the resources I needed, and for helping me get back on my feet. This is just one shelter among many that provide a roof, food, and hands to help guide us back upwards.

Circle of Parents

The Circle of Parents® in Colorado is an online and in-person weekly meeting where parents come together, share thoughts, ideas and problems. In return, those in the group receive advice and resources to help make parenting a little easier. It’s a collection of parents needing help and through the bonds that are built… grow stronger, together. You learn very quickly in groups like these that you are never alone and help is just an email, text or phone call away.

For me, each week connects me to other fathers that are knowledgeable about local parent/child events and educational opportunities like parenting books, articles, or websites. It’s a safe place to share challenges and success stories and bond with other fathers.

Center on Fathering

Although there are many more organizations I could share, I do want to mention just one more; the Center on Fathering which has been a bedrock of support to strengthen our role as parents through parenting classes, support groups and access to educational materials.

I reached out to community organizations for help and it’s made me a better parent. If I can leave you with just one message today, it would be this…  it’s OK for parents to ask for support. We all need it. We all need to connect with one another—as parents—to share the information, resources, tips and tricks that we learn along the way.

Build Concrete Support in Times of Need

When families are connected and have access to concrete supports in their community that help minimize stress caused by challenges, we strengthen the foundation for families and communities to thrive. ​This is what child abuse prevention looks like in my life. Together, we can become the best parents we can be. For fathers, it feels especially difficult for us to reach out to one another to connect as parents and get support. This is the pledge I make to myself, to continue to connect and I’m sharing my story to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together. 

Dave Ehlert

Dave Ehlert

Dave is a proud father to his nine year-old son living in Colorado Springs. He has a deep understanding of what needs to happen at a community level in order to transform systems so that families get the preventative support they need, having experienced homelessness and spends his time helping other fathers make progress in their lives in order to attain greater fulfillment.

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I am sitting here watching my son play with his friend thinking about all of the things that have blown up this week all while smiling for him. Let’s be honest, there are times when this parenting thing is just hard. Like when you get to the point where you are not sure whether you’re going left or right. Organizing rides to practices, planning meals, working and trying to find 30 minutes to get to the store to get my favorite face wash. Every decision feels wrong and everything seems to be going wrong. What do I do when I feel like this? Sometimes I go behind closed doors and cry then put some makeup on my red nose, throw on my Nikes and get back to it. Other days I don’t hide it from my kids. I let them see the struggles, the frustration and the tears. 

Which one is right? I could argue both. I don’t want them to see me cry or cause them to worry about anything that’s my job as their mom. They are just kids and have enough adult life to worry and stress them out. However, if they see how hard I fight they can gain more appreciation for what they have and what I do for them. The life we live doesn’t come easy. No matter how I respond I beat myself up. I have painted a picture of me being superwoman to the world and now that’s the picture that I see of myself. No room for error even when things are tough. 

I have read article after article about ways to cope when you’re stressed or how to give yourself grace and even how to parent under pressure. When I read those articles I then think, how can I get to the point where I am as put together as those moms? Which either motivates me or makes me feel defeated. 

Ways I Find Peace in the Chaos

So what’s the moral to the story? Finding peace in the chaos looks different for everyone, and that’s ok. It looks different for me every day, and that’s ok too.

I remind myself a few ways:

  • I put sticky notes on my mirrors with positive quotes.

I take time to write down life’s little blessings and put them in a vase to read when things get hard.

Reading those really helps put things into perspective. 

    I call my mom friends and complain about the chaos and then brag about the wins.

    I have found my one release from the world in coaching basketball. Nothing matters to me when I am on the court.

    Building Parental Resilience Is Growing a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together

    This is what parental resilience looks like for me and it’s built by learning healthy coping skills and strategies to manage your stress and function as well as you can when faced with challenges, adversity and trauma.​ Researchers at The Center for the Study of Social Policy have found that parental resilience is among the five Protective Factors that, when present in families’ lives, have the power to reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect and when I think about that, it makes complete sense to me. 

    When I’m not taking care of myself or managing my stress, I know I don’t show up for my kids the way I want to. But, who among us has not felt a little short-tempered, yelled or not been your best-self at moments in front of your kids. Everyone needs to practice self-care, especially parents. 

    Take the time to do little things that bring you calm during the storm. While I complain about the articles saying give yourself grace, it’s so true! I have to constantly remind myself that parenting is not for the weak, so we use the tools we have to make the best decisions we can to strengthen our families and ourselves. This is the pledge I make to myself and I’m sharing my story to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together. 

    Makita Cotto

    Makita Cotto

    Makita is a proud mother of three, human resources manager and high school basketball coach sharing her lived experiences so that children and families can grow and thrive together. She has a deep understanding of what needs to happen at a community level in order to transform systems so that families get the preventative support they need, having experienced the foster care system as a child.

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    Parents’ Stories a Focus of the Campaign to Grow a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together

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    Nearly one hundred people gathered on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol to promote positive childhood experiences and listen to parents share their experiences in recognition of child abuse prevention month. The event is the first of many activities happening throughout the nation, and Colorado, as part of the month-long Pinwheels for Prevention® campaign to Grow a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together.  

    “Every one of the more than 1.2 million children in Colorado today deserve to be valued, healthy and thriving, including the children in my community. And, every day, we each help positive childhood experiences take root,” said Beverley Besha Moore, emcee for the event and board member of Illuminate Colorado (Illuminate), the statewide nonprofit organizing this annual grassroots effort to raise awareness during child abuse prevention month. As the Colorado Chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America, the organization leads the national Pinwheels for Prevention® Campaign in Colorado which has grown exponentially over the years, giving away more than 40,000 FREE pinwheels last year as many families were under significant stress doing their best to parent during a pandemic.

    2022 Colorado Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign Launch Event

    Thank you to all the partners, parents and kids that joined us at the Colorado State Capitol! What a great start to Child Abuse Prevention Month!
    VIEW PHOTO ALBUM

    A leading champion for all children in the United States, Prevent Child Abuse America is the nation’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect. Prevent Child Abuse America experts develop innovative, evidence-based prevention strategies, raise public awareness, and advocate for family-friendly policies and programs at the national, state, and local levels to ensure that all children and families get what they need to thrive. “Research shows that positive childhood experiences grow thriving families and communities,” explained Dr. Melissa Merrick, president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America. “This is the moment to build a child and family well-being system that propels families to grow and thrive together. Please consider joining us to ensure safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments are cultivated to enable children, families, and entire communities to succeed – today and for generations to come.” 

    As a mom to seven kids myself, two by adoption and five by birth, I know that no parent can do this alone. All parents need support from their community to raise their kids—it truly does take a village. And while all families need support, some families do experience social, economic and environmental inequities more than others and this explains why children of color experience significant disparities in child well-being.” said Besha Moore. As an African American mother, I’ve experienced first-hand the struggle of wanting to ask for help but being fearful that I would be looked at differently or treated differently because I’m African American. We can all help by proactively calling out inequity and injustice and working to create the conditions for safe, stable and nurturing spaces. All children and families thrive when communities focus on addressing root causes that lead to health and social inequities. We all need to know how to strengthen the family next door.”

    This year, Illuminate is giving away 10 Free pinwheels to anyone interested in getting more involved and asking all Coloradans to pledge to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together. “When parents, caregivers, family, friends, neighbors, employers and elected leaders work together to increase five critical protective factors in families’ lives that is when we can prevent child abuse, strengthen families and build brighter childhoods,” continued Besha Moore.

    Every one of the more than 1.2 million children in Colorado today deserve to be valued, healthy and thriving, including the children in my community. And, every day, we each help positive childhood experiences take root.

    Beverley Besha Moore

    Board Member, Illuminate Colorado

    Conditions in communities where people live, learn, work and play affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes – including child abuse and neglect – a serious problem affecting every segment of our community. The occasion focused on effective community-based solutions including home visiting, homeless shelters, family resource centers and other local community supports that support all families thereby reducing the likelihood of child maltreatment.  In October 2018, I experienced every parents worst nightmare; my three and a half year-old son pasted away. After that tragedy, I was offered a whirlwind of supportive services, counseling, classes, family and friends coming to offer support. Every single one played a part in my healing process. What I found most life-altering was my home visiting program,” shared Alexa Chenoweth, a mother of two girls under the age of four from Rifle, Colorado. 

    Another father opened up about his journey through parenthood having experienced homelessness. “I never thought I would ever become homeless until it happened. A number of events led me to a point in my life where I needed to find a temporary home so that I could start working to rebuild my life from the ground up and continue to support my basic needs and be there for my son,” said Dave Ehlert the Colorado Springs father of a nine year-old boy.  “Parenting isn’t always easy. There’s no book to follow on how to be a perfect parent and it can be difficult at times. The good news is there’s so many resources in all of our communities that are reaching out to us to provide services, programs and support as we navigate our parental journey.”

     

    In addition to the more than 50 campaign partners displaying pinwheels in April as a show of support for the prevention of child maltreatment, promoting the campaign messaging on social media using #GrowingBetterTogether, and encouraging Coloradans to take part in the campaign; campaign sponsors including the presenting sponsor SafeCare Colorado of Colorado’s Office of Early Childhood, and organizing sponsor Colorado’s Office of Children, Youth & Families and media sponsor Colorado Parent, also supported the event.

    As added incentive to make a commitment to strengthening families this month, one person who takes the pledge to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together will be selected at the end of the month to win an opportunity to choose a Colorado nonprofit, school or child care organization to receive a $2,500 grant, thanks in large part to the campaign sponsor Colorado Child Welfare Scholars Consortium, part of a statewide effort to invest in the education of selected students in order to attract qualified social work professionals into the field of public child welfare services in Colorado.  For more ways you can to strengthen families and take the pledge to Grow a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together and learn more about child abuse and neglect prevention and activities happening around the state all-month long, visit COPinwheelsForPrevention.org

    Following a message from Governor Jared Polis, Minna Castillo Cohen, director of the Office of Children, Youth and Families, and Mary Alice Cohen, director of the Office of Early Childhood from the Colorado Department of Human Services addressed the crowd to thank the thousands of professionals, parents and caregivers who have strengthen families throughout the pandemic. “I’ve seen amazing collaboration happen with partners across the state throughout this pandemic to take care of families in their communities and ensure they have what they need to be successful and help their kids grow up healthy, strong and ready for school,” said Castillo Cohen. “We know that when families are connected and have access to concrete support in their communities, child maltreatment can be prevented. It truly takes all of us to ensure every child has the opportunity to thrive.”

    “The last two years have been so challenging for children and their families. I know many of you have first hand experience with this,” shared Cohen. “Our routines and our support systems were changed abruptly. In the Office of Early Childhood we were heartened to see the creativity and resilience all of our partners showed to ensure the youngest Coloradans continued to thrive; yet we also recognized the significant needs families faced, and continue to face.”

    The event ended on a heartfelt note with Besha Moore share a personal story after reflection on the work going on inside the Capitol. “You see, I was a teen mom. When he was just three and half years old. At that time, I was handling the financial struggles of being a single mom. I found myself in a position when I was wondering do I purchase diapers or purchase sanitary items that I needed. And of course, the diapers won. So I swallowed my pride and I did whatever was needed. But, just imagine if there was such a thing as not having a tax on diapers back then,” shared Besha Moore referencing a bill Colorado lawmakers are working on this legislative session to make essential items, like period products and diapers, more affordable.  “That definitely could have helped me. And If I had really felt confident about these wonderful services that we have here in Colorado, if those things were made available to me, I definitely would have taken them.” 

    Growing a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together

    Every one of the more than 1.2 million children in Colorado today deserve to be valued, healthy and thriving, including the children in your community.

    Take the pledge to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together. 

    Show your support for strengthening families in Colorado and take the pledge to build protective factors and prevent child abuse in your community.

    Get Your 10 FREE Pinwheels

    Illuminate Colorado, a statewide nonprofit working to strengthen families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment, is giving away 10 FREE Pinwheels for Prevention® to Coloradans to inspire our communities to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together.

    >>Interested in getting more involved or sharing your lived experiences?

    Parents: It’s Time to Talk About Strengthening Our Families

    Parents: It’s Time to Talk About Strengthening Our Families

    For more than ten years now, you may have seen gardens of pinwheels planted at your child’s school, day care or a local hospital or nonprofit organization, and wondered, why? It’s because pinwheels are the national symbol for child abuse prevention meant to start a conversation about how to strengthen families. 

    “What research has shown, and what our experiences have borne out, is that people respond to the pinwheel. Child abuse is a hard topic for most people to think about, let alone talk about. By its very nature, the pinwheel reminds us all of the bright childhoods we want for all children,” said Jade Woodard, executive director of Illuminate Colorado, the statewide nonprofit organizing this annual grassroots effort to raise awareness during child abuse prevention month. As the Colorado Chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America, the organization leads the national Pinwheels for Prevention® Campaign in Colorado which has grown exponentially over the years, giving away more than 40,000 FREE pinwheels last year as many families were under significant stress doing their best to parent during a pandemic. 


    “Families get overloaded with stress when facing significant challenges like unemployment, substance misuse or mental health struggles, making it incredibly hard to parent and keep your child safe. That’s when kids are at greater risk for abuse or neglect. Just like a truck carrying too much weight, they can’t move forward. But when other parents, friends, family, employers, neighbors, community organizations and even elected officials increase protective factors around families, then we lighten the load. That’s how we prevent child abuse and strengthen families,” continued Woodard. “We are encouraging Colorado communities to have a conversation about helping families upstream- reducing stress on parents and building resources and systems that work together to help us raise our families. Every one of the more than 1.2 million children in Colorado today deserve to be valued, healthy and thriving.” 

    Locations where pinwheels tend to sprout up are usually: 

    • organizations that are working every day with young children like elementary schools, child care centers and home visiting programs; 
    • organizations that recognize their role in strengthening families like family resource centers, medical offices and hospitals; 
    • businesses supportive of family-friendly work environments and the children and families in their communities;  and, of course,
    • nonprofit and human services agencies doing the incredibly hard job of helping children and families heal from child maltreatment. 

    This year, many of those same organizations are doing more to empower parents who are passionate about making sure their neighborhood protects children and strengthens families. On April 1st, parents are joining Colorado legislators and representatives from more than 50 campaign partners to gather on the West steps of the Colorado State Capitol at 11:00 am to promote positive childhood experiences and launch a month-long campaign to Grow a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together

    Organizers plan to share more about ways to show your support and earn a $2,500 grant for your favorite Colorado nonprofit, school or child care provider at the event. Illuminate is also giving away 10 FREE pinwheels to anyone who wants to get more involved and join this movement. You can order your free pinwheels online at COPinwheelsForPrevention.org or stop by the public family-friendly campaign launch event to pick up your pinwheels. Each pinwheel comes with a small greeting card to give to someone else or display to help inspire other people in your community to learn more about how we can strengthen families.

    Five Way to Use Pinwheels for Prevention®

    Display your pinwheels in a pot in your front yard or window to show your support and get people talking about strengthening families.

    Organize a pinwheel parade in your neighborhood, school or child care center.

    Give your pinwheels to a child you care about along with the Pinwheels for Prevention® coloring sheet, available in the campaign community activity guide

    Ask your favorite restaurants, pediatrician and dentist offices to display a small bouquet of pinwheels at the front desk to let customers know they support children and families in the community.

    Leave one pinwheel on the doorstep of 10 of your neighbor’s homes to build the movement or say “thank you for keeping me strong.”

    “We’ve done this for many, many years in person at the Capitol with our pinwheels and we are so excited to be back together in person for the first time since 2019. We definitely did our best virtually during the pandemic, but it is just nothing like the energy that we get when we are all together at the Capitol to launch Child Abuse Prevention Month,” continued Woodard.

    Five Ways to Build Stronger Families

    Protective factors are conditions or attributes in individuals, families, communities or the larger society that help people deal more effectively with stressful events and mitigate or eliminate risk in families and communities. Protective factors help buffer from the negative consequences of exposure to risks by either reducing the impact of the risk or changing the way a person responds to the risk. Consequently, enhancing protective factors can reduce the likelihood of problem behaviors arising.

    Research by the Center for the Study of Social Policy has shown five protective factors increase family strengths, enhance child development and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. Throughout the month of April, campaign partners will be highlighting ways parents, employers and community members can build the following protective factors to strengthen families.

    1 – Be Strong in the Face of Stress – Build Parental Resilience 

    Resilience is managing stress and dealing with your life, even when things get difficult.

    Right now, stress is HIGH. You’ve likely felt a little short-temper, yelled or not been your best-self at moments. Everyone needs to practice self-care right now, especially parents. Take care of yourself, to take care of your kids. Share a mindfulness or stress management tip, encourage others parents to give themselves permission to not be perfect.

    2 – Connecting With Other People Matters – Build Social Connections

    Having a network of friends and family helps us feel secure, confident and empowered. Accept help from others and look for opportunities to give back. Reach out to others, talk about what is going on in your life. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel. Focus on nurturing relationships where you feel respected and appreciated.

    3 – Grow Your Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development – Build Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

    There is no perfect parent, but knowing what to expect does make the job easier. Discover what to expect as your child grows. Try new skills and tips to help your child progress and thrive. Pause to understand why your child is acting out and respond in a positive, nurturing, and developmentally appropriate way.

    4 – Every Parent Needs Support Sometimes – Build Concrete Support in Times of Need

    Some problems are too big to solve alone. Knowing where to get help in the community can make life easier. Know what help is available in your community. Make a plan for what programs you might need if you were faced with unemployment or severe illness. Reach out and ask for support when needed. Share your story with others about programs and resources that have helped you along the way.

    5 – Help Your Child Manage Feelings and Relationships – Build Social and Emotional Competence of Children

    Help children develop skills so they can manage their emotions and build healthy relationships with their peers and adults. Respond warmly and consistently to your child. Allow your child to express their emotions. Model how to be kind and interact positively with others.

    Most parents, including those known to child protection, are truly doing the best they can and want to do well by their children. All families need help sometimes. Some are overburdened and close to breaking points as they struggle with child care and work, the threat of unemployment, food or housing insecurities, and other intense pressures. Creating better outcomes for children starts with ensuring families are supported and strengthened when they need help – rather than penalized. 

    The Colorado Department of Human Services recently reported that calls to the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline, 844-CO-4-Kids (844.264.5437), have rebounded after a significant drop during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Most of the calls that come into the hotline are really around a parent’s lack of resources, so, one of the ways that we can really support families is by making sure that we are connecting them to those resources -those concrete supports that families need,” said Minna Castillo Cohen, director of the Colorado Office of Children, Youth and Families, one of three organizing sponsors of the campaign. 

    “I am very excited about the campaign because it gives us an opportunity to work outside of our child protection system and really talk about human services, so instead of child welfare, thinking about child well-being,” said Castillo Cohen. “ I just really hope that people put out the pinwheels in their yard, encourage their elementary schools and the businesses in their own communities to get involved and recognize strong employees who have families are even stronger when they have a support network,” said Castillo Cohen.

    “I am very excited about the campaign because it gives us an opportunity to work outside of our child protection system and really talk about human services, so instead of child welfare, thinking about child well-being,” said Castillo Cohen. “ I just really hope that people put out the pinwheels in their yard, encourage their elementary schools and the businesses in their own communities to get involved and recognize strong employees who have families are even stronger when they have a support network,” said Castillo Cohen. 

    Ways to Get Involved

    Join Together on April 1

    You can promote positive childhood experiences and preventing adversity by wearing blue on April 1 – National Wear Blue Day – and share your picture online letting others know you support #GrowingBetterTogether. 

    Colorado Campaign Launch to Grow a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together
    April 1 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
    Colorado State Capitol West Steps
    200 E Colfax Ave., Denver, CO 80203

    RSVP to let campaign organizers know you plan to support the cause and help the campaign get off to a strong start. 

    Come down to the Capitol to meet other parents passionate about making sure their neighborhood protects children and strengthens families. Be the first to learn more about how you can WIN a $2,500 grant for your favorite Colorado nonprofit, school or child care provider! 

    Organize Your People

    Become a campaign partner, download the campaign community activity guide and encourage your friends, other parents and your child’s school or day care to order their FREE 10 Pinwheels. 

    Join the Movement

    Follow #GrowingBetterTogether to connect to the movement in your community and tag us on Illuminate on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to show you support. 

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