Do You Work with Children and Families? There is a Network Waiting for You.

Do You Work with Children and Families? There is a Network Waiting for You.

Since 2007, Colorado has maintained a commitment to best practices related to the protective factors in communities and families. The Colorado Strengthening Families Network hosts a quarterly online learning community for professionals across sectors in an effort to embed the Protective Factors in the work of child and family serving agencies of all types. 

Colorado Strengthening Families Network

The network is halfway through the year, and we have already had two exciting and impactful meetings, with two to go, as well as the Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference in September. The conference will be the first time in over two years the Network will have the chance to collaborate and socialize together, face to face!

So far this year, the Network has had presentations, and opportunities to collaborate with other family-serving professionals, on grounding in the Protective Factors.

REGISTER TODAY!

Flourishing in Times of Change
September 19-21, 2022
Pueblo, CO

In the 2021 Strengthening Families Network Survey we learned there are many new members of the Network with an interest in better understanding the foundational history of the Protective Factors and how they are being utilized in Colorado. So, we began the year by Gail Mendes and Kathy Kennedy sharing their vast experiences using and embedding the Protective Factors into their work. The large group had time to network and share in small groups how the Protective Factors are present in their local communities.

If you are looking for a refresher on the history of the Network and/or an introduction to the Protective Factors, the recording includes a presentation on both. The recording of February’s network meeting can be found here.

In May, we had a visit from our friends at the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) on new and innovative ways to embed the Protective Factors into practice. Here is the link to view the recording of the presentation which included a discussion of Youth Thrive, an initiative of the Center for the Study of Social Policy. It is the companion framework to Strengthening Families that focuses on older children, adolescents, and young adults (ages 9-26).

Youth Thrive believes that all young people should be valued, loved, and supported to reach their goals. To achieve this, Youth Thrive works with youth-serving systems, community-based organizations, advocates, and other partners across the country. Our shared goal is to improve policies, programs, and practices so that they build on what we know about adolescent development, value young people’s perspectives, and give youth opportunities to succeed. Kaysie Getty and Francie Zimmerman, two staff members from Youth Thrive, shared a brief overview of the Youth Thrive protective factors and a variety of strategies, tools, and resources for partnering with young people to support their healthy development and promote well-being.

The August network meeting is canceled in lieu of the Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference in September. In November, we will reconvene online and discuss takeaways from the conference, and share how we are individually and collectively taking care of ourselves, our coworkers and the families we serve. Self-care is more than a slogan. It is actively taking time to regroup, destress and ensure we are able to show up as the best versions of ourselves in both personal and professional settings. Don’t worry if you didn’t have a chance to attend the conference! There will be tips and techniques you can start incorporating right away. 

We are always happy to welcome new faces, new professions and professionals. And, regardless of what work you do in or out of the home, if this sounds interesting to you, we would love to see you! For more information on attending the remaining meetings, visit our website. For more information on the Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference, visit the conference website

About the Author

About the Author

Anne Auld is the director of education for Illuminate Colorado. Auld has worked with children and families for more than 20 years, training parents, professionals and community members on subjects including strengthening families, safe storage, child sexual abuse prevention and much more.

Do you know if your playdate’s house is a safe place to play?

Do you know if your playdate’s house is a safe place to play?

Sending your kids over to play at a friend’s house to play is one of the best ways to make it through the summertime while school is out, child care is limited and the need to find activities to entertain our kids is endless. But, it can also be a scary decision for any parent to make to entrust the safety of your child with another adult. Do you know if it is a safe place to play at your playdate’s house? 

Parents and other primary caregivers have the right and responsibility to make decisions about how best to protect their children, even when someone else is caring for them. Whether child care is family, a friend, neighbor or licensed child care provider, parents need to communicate their safe-storage priorities to anyone who cares for their children. Making sure dangerous items are out of reach is one of the easiest ways to keep your kids safe. However, it always seems like conversations with those closest to us are the most uncomfortable, especially when they are doing you a favor, like hosting a playdate or helping out with child care when you are in desperate need of help.

Things to Think, and Talk, About Before a Playdate

As Benjamin Franklin said “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” reminding us all that it is easier to stop something from happening in the first place than to repair damage after a tragedy. This is certainly true when it comes to the storage of harmful substances and dangerous items. The list of things that can be harmful to children is long, and it can be difficult to wrap our minds around safely storing anything and everything that could be dangerous. 

There is wisdom in prioritizing those things that can be most harmful to children for safe-storage. By prioritizing a list of things to store safely away from children, we can prevent harm before it occurs.  Some things to prioritize talking about before sending your kids over to play include:

Weapons

It’s now required by law to safely store your guns. Guns and ammunition should be stored separately from each other in lock boxes or gun safes. Trigger locks offer added protection and can be used in tandem with these safe storage options to increase security.

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What to Say

“My child is always getting into things around our house.  I wanted to let you know so that you can put anything that could be harmful things away before he\she\they come over.”

Medications

Prescription medications should be kept in their original, labeled, childproof containers. But childproof containers offer only the minimum of protection, therefore, the containers themselves should be stored in such a way as to prevent children and others from accessing them.

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What to Say

“Steve has proven that he can get into just about any kind of container.  We’ve talked to him about boundaries, but he is so curious!  I’d like to ask you to put any medications or other harmful substances away where he can’t get to them just in case.”

Substances

Substances can be found in a majority of homes across America. Alcohol, nicotine and marijuana are a few examples of substances that are commonly and legally used by adults.  Illicit substances can also be found in many homes where children may be present. Both legal and illicit substances can cause great harm or death, and therefore should be stored in such a way that children and youth cannot access them. Safe-storage bags and other locking containers can greatly increase safety when used appropriately and consistently. 

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What to Say

“I’m sure this goes without saying, but please store any substances that might be around the house where my children can’t get to them.  Childproof containers are helpful, but they aren’t really enough to prevent children from opening them.  It is something that I have been really conscious of ever since I read a blog post about.” 

In every household where children are or might be present, parents, caregivers and others should think ahead, make decisions around what should be stored away from children and youth, and choose how to store it safely. That is easier to do in our own homes. There are a number of programs that can provide families with locking safe-storage bags, lock boxes, trigger locks, etc. Talk to a family support worker at a human services agency or family resource center near you to begin to identify resources that you can use to be protective and preventive, and to keep your family safe.

 

Share What Works for You

Once you’ve made smart choices at home to keep your kids safe, share your lessons learned and recommend the community resources that helped you strengthen your family with the people that care for your kids.   

About the Author

About the Author

Jason Read, M.Ed., is an education program manager with Illuminate Colorado and regular blog contributor sharing his professional guidance, as well as personal experiences as a father of three children. Jason leads Smart Choices Safe Kids conversation guide trainings for professionals working with children, parents and caregivers.

How to Help Your Picky Eater

How to Help Your Picky Eater

Most parents struggle with feeding their kids at some point in their lives. Eating is one of the most basic functions, so why is it so hard? There are many reasons a child might not like a specific food — the texture, what it looks like, the smell, or the child could be anxious about the sensory experience, so they refuse even to try it. Whatever the reason, there are ways to make this experience less stressful for everyone. 

I am a pediatric therapist and co-founder of Kinspire, a pediatric support platform that provides occupational therapy through a convenient telehealth experience. I often help families who struggle with picky eaters. Most picky eater caregivers dread mealtime because they know there will be struggles around food. Mealtimes should be an opportunity to connect with your family, not a time of stress. I’m excited to share a few of my favorite tips on how to support your child during mealtimes so the entire family can get back to a stress-free meal. 

Tips to Ease Mealtime Stress With Your Picky Eater

Introduce new foods alongside favorite foods.

Do not force your child to try a new food. Continue to present it in small portions alongside favorite foods to increase the likelihood of your child interacting with it. 

Select three goal foods.

Make a list of your child’s preferred foods. These foods will help you determine new foods to introduce – you want to select new foods that are similar to your child’s preferred foods, but different in some ways. Introduce the goal foods one at a time. 

Use “I wonder” statements to encourage your child to try new foods.

“I wonder if that’s crunchy like your pretzels,” or “I wonder if it tastes sweet or salty.”

Take the pressure off your child.

If your child doesn’t want to interact with a food, say, “OK, I guess you’re not ready to eat that yet.” Adding yet to this statement leaves the possibility open for the future while making them more comfortable during mealtime.

Get them involved in food prep.

Helping in the kitchen makes your child an active participant and gives them a sense of control from the start.

Encourage them to explore food through smell, touch or trying it in small bites.

If your child smells a new food, that is a win! Encourage them to touch and smell the food if they aren’t ready to taste it yet. 

Give them some control over their food choices.

A food menu works great for this — give your child food options and let them fill out the weekly menu. When the child feels like they have some control over their food, they know what to expect and are more willing to try it. 

Manage your expectations.

It’s hard to put so much time and effort into feeding your child. Don’t expect any one tip to be the answer; this process can take time, but your patience will pay off. 

2022 Pinwheels for Prevention® Sponsor

Special Thanks to Kinspire for growing a better tomorrow for all children, together.

Speaking from personal experience with my youngest girl, being a parent to a picky eater can be overwhelming at times. If you’re looking for support for your picky eater, Kinspire can help you. 

Kinspire offers children and their families occupational therapy in the most flexible and convenient way that fits into anyone’s schedule. Kinspire’s platform empowers parents to support their children on a daily basis via a dedicated occupational therapist, on-demand telehealth services, and a self-service technology experience. Kinspire therapists work with families to develop a collaborative Family Action Plan tailored to their child’s needs and parents can reach out to their dedicated therapist whenever they need help or have questions.

No more wait lists or scheduling challenges— you can get help now at your convenience with Kinspire. Schedule a free consultation at www.kinspirehealth.com to get matched with a licensed therapist who will guide and teach you how to support your family so you can get back to stress-free meals.

About the Author

About the Author

Lily Baiser is a parent and highly experienced pediatric occupational therapist (OT). She holds a certification in sensory integration theory and practice, and has advanced training in multiple interventions. She also serves as the chief clinical officer and co-founder of Kinspire, a pediatric support platform that provides occupational therapy through telehealth to best support the developmental needs of children and their families.

Related Posts

Do you know if your playdate’s house is a safe place to play?

Do you know if your playdate’s house is a safe place to play?

Sending your kids over to play at a friend’s house to play is one of the best ways to make it through the summertime while school is out, child care is limited and the need to find activities to entertain our kids is endless. But, it can also be a scary decision for any parent to make to entrust the safety of your child with another adult. Do you know if it is a safe place to play at your playdate’s house?

NEW Trauma-Informed Communication and Care Provider Education Series

NEW Trauma-Informed Communication and Care Provider Education Series

“We regularly hear from our colleagues that they recognize the importance of taking a trauma-informed approach to patient care, but very few have had the opportunity to receive formal training on trauma-informed care and communication,” said Dr. Laurie Halmo, pediatrician and toxicologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado and co-chair of the Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns Steering Committee work group focused on expanding healthcare provider education resources related to substance use and pregnancy with an emphasis on family leadership and addressing implicit bias. 

Designed by Healthcare Providers, for Healthcare Providers

Now, thanks to Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns Steering Committee Provider Education Work Group and the Colorado Perinatal Care Quality Collaborative, a NEW Trauma-Informed Communication and Care Provider Educational Series designed by healthcare providers, for healthcare providers, is available beginning next Monday. Each session grounded in the perspective of someone with lived experience related to substance use and pregnancy underscores just why this topic is so important.

Anyone who interacts with perinatal patients and their families in a clinical setting, from gynecologists, obstetricians, neonatologists, and pediatricians, to mental/behavioral healthcare providers and social workers, are encouraged to attend. Clinical professionals will walk away with the knowledge and tools to care for individuals in the perinatal period and those who are impacted by substance use in a trauma-informed way that leads to better experiences and outcomes for all. 

NEW Trauma-Informed Communication and Care Provider Education Series 

The educational series includes:

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an overview of the impact of trauma on women’s health, mental health, substance use, and experiences with obstetrical care

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effective trauma-related screening questions and practical provider and team approaches to improve communication and trauma-informed care in obstetrical settings

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practical tools for recognizing and reducing stigma and bias in interactions with patients

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practical tools for optimizing brief clinical interactions with individuals impacted by perinatal substance use in a trauma-informed, non-stigmatizing way, including motivational interviewing, attending skills, and the LEAP (Listen, Empathize, Agree, Partner) approach

New Colorado Youth Thrive Collaborative Aims to Improve Youth Well-Being

New Colorado Youth Thrive Collaborative Aims to Improve Youth Well-Being

Illuminate Colorado has been working to increasing community and family protective factors since our formation in 2017 and long before through our founding organizations. Recently, our organization also began working to build protective and promotive factors for young people aged 9-26 by offering a new Youth ThriveTM training and convening the Colorado Youth Thrive Collaborative focused on creating the best long-term well-being outcomes for young people.  

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The Youth Thrive Framework

The five protective and promotive factors are a part of the Youth Thrive framework developed by the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP). According to the CSSP, protective factors help eliminate or mitigate the impact of negative life experiences, while promotive factors actively enhance healthy development and well-being.

Research from the CSSP shows that building protective and promotive factors in young people, such as youth resilience and knowledge of adolescent development, creates positive long term outcomes for young people and even helps overcome the harmful effects of racism, systemic oppression, and policing disparities.

Learn more about the role of protective and promotive factors in promoting youth well-being and preventing child maltreatment.

Helping Youth Thrive in Colorado

Illuminate Colorado is proud to convene the Colorado Youth Thrive Collaborative and support partners Compound of Compassion, Bigger Than Me, Fatherhood Support Services and the Youth Empowerment Agency  incorporating the CSSP Youth Thrive framework into their existing and future programming. The work began last summer when the Compound of Compassion hosted Safe Zone events in response to the rapid rise of youth violence. “We want to bring some kind of cohesiveness and collaboration so that there is a personal relationship that’s built, so that we all commune together as a whole and address the issues,” said Compound of Compassion Founder Shana Shaw last month when local news highlighted how the Aurora nonprofits are working to support youth during a spike in violence. 

Even though there has been a recent uptick in youth violence, research shows that communities can foster positive and meaningful change. According to Dr. Apryl Alexander, Associate Professor at the University of Denver and the director of Denver FIRST, which works with adults and juveniles in the criminal justice system, community-based interventions are the most effective at reducing concerns such as youth violence, and community-led interventions are far more effective than system-based interventions.

It Takes a Village

The strength of community-based and -led interventions, coupled with the five protective and promotive factors, means that there is a unique opportunity for each of us to mitigate risk and improve the well-being of young people in our communities. Here are some suggestions and examples of how you can support young people in your community:

      • Identify and celebrate moments when a young person draws on their inner strength.
      • Show trust, respect, and appreciation for the children in your life.
      • Be a trusted and knowledgeable adult when a child, teenager, or young adult comes to you to talk about adolescent development.
      • Normalize asking for help when you need it for the young people in your life.
      • Model how to be kind and interact positively with others.

Related Posts

Do you know if your playdate’s house is a safe place to play?

Do you know if your playdate’s house is a safe place to play?

Sending your kids over to play at a friend’s house to play is one of the best ways to make it through the summertime while school is out, child care is limited and the need to find activities to entertain our kids is endless. But, it can also be a scary decision for any parent to make to entrust the safety of your child with another adult. Do you know if it is a safe place to play at your playdate’s house?

How to Help Your Picky Eater

How to Help Your Picky Eater

Mother, pediatric therapist and Co-founder of Kinspire offers tips to ease mealtime stress with your picky eater.

Illuminate Partners with Head Start to Support Strength Based Conversations Related to Substance Use

Illuminate Partners with Head Start to Support Strength Based Conversations Related to Substance Use

Many families struggle, often in private, with substance use. But beginning a conversation around substance use with any family can often feel uncomfortable and awkward, even for professionals who work with children and families every day, like home visitors and early child care professionals. 

When families can feel safe to talk about substance use in a non-judgmental and hopeful way, the relationship between a professional dedicating their career to supporting families and any parent can be strengthened, and children are ultimately safer for it. 

That is why, in 2017, Illuminate Colorado developed the Smart Choices Safe Kids Conversation Guide for Professionals to learn how to incorporate topics like substance use and safe storage into everyday conversations with families. Since then, Illuminate has trained over 600 professionals across Colorado to have strength based conversations with families and distributed more than 8,000 safe storage bags making their way into the hands of Colorado families.

The strength based conversations promote a multi-generational approach, encouraging professionals to think critically about substance use and substance use disorders, as each family is unique. The training includes a “Conversation Guide” of scripts for professionals to use as guidelines to start and continue conversations on safe homes, safe caregiving and child & family well-being, at every age and stage of life. 

“The key to a successful conversation is to avoid judgment, stigma, and bias – actively listening and engaging with the family you are working with. All families want the best for their children and have hopes and dreams for their children’s futures.” Jason Read M.Ed., education and training program manager with Illuminate Colorado. “Using substances, whether legal, illegal, or prescribed, doesn’t change how much parents care about their children, but it may impact their ability to do what is best for them.”

In addition to receiving tips, techniques and strategies to help keep kids safe and families healthy, professionals leave the training with Smart Choices Safe Kids brochures for people parenting in English and Spanish and safe storage bags to share with families. With the brochure inside of the bags, professionals have a tool to universally share with families to continue conversations around safety in the home. 

Taking the Conversation Guide training has provided our staff with the language and strategies to have difficult conversations with the families we support,” shared Sherry Price, deputy director of Hilltop Family Resource Center one of many organizations that have encouraged their staff to take the Conversation Guide training. “Giving safe storage bags to families has been a life-saver in promoting a safe home and reducing risk of children accidentally ingesting harmful substances such as prescriptions, legal substances and poisonings.”

Many home visitors already talk about where the cleaning products are stored, or keeping certain items out of reach of small children. Now they can incorporate the bag into a conversation about safety, and talk about what other items could be stored in the locking bag, like medications, edibles or paraphernalia, for example. 

And in 2021, in addition to supporting Colorado professionals, Illuminate is set to begin training Head Start staff across the country to use this Conversation Guide for Professionals, in partnership with the National Center of Health, Behavioral Health and Safety (NCHBHS), under the Office of Head Start, an Office of the Administration for Children & Families. Collaborating with NCHBHS in this way puts Illuminate in the company of some extraordinary national leaders in child development. Other partners in the NCHBHS include: Sesame Workshop, Child Trends, Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development and Child Trauma Research Program, to name just a few.

“This is an exciting endeavor to help build knowledge and comfort in having conversations with families about substances and substance use all across the country,” said Anne Auld director of education for Illuminate Colorado“Over the course of the next five years, we will not only train Head Start staff across the nation, we will also create a Train the Trainer model to ensure organizations have ongoing access to this training and increased organizational capacity to strengthen families and their own communities. That’s how we create transformation change.” 

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Learn more about the Smart Choices Safe Kids and the Conversation Guide for Professionals.

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