A New Community Is Building a Stronger Foundation for Illuminate Colorado

A New Community Is Building a Stronger Foundation for Illuminate Colorado

Every year, April arrives amid a flurry of action and awareness surrounding Child Abuse Prevention Month. And every year, April ends and the resounding echoes of awareness campaigns fade to a whisper.

For thirty days, it’s so exciting to see all the awareness being spread and the work being done to create brighter childhoods. We even posted a blog this past week highlighting everything going on throughout the month of April. It’s, without a doubt, an exciting time to talk about the important work that we do.

But the work isn’t over when April ends. And that’s why we need Luminaries.

Building Brighter Childhoods Year-Round

With a research-based approach that emphasizes building protective factors and strengthening families, Illuminate Colorado addresses systemic and multi-sector issues by working across the Spectrum of Prevention. Our year-round programs and services operate upstream and downstream, spanning the Continuum of Prevention.

 

Launching a New Community

To support this work year-round, we’re launching a new community of passionate supporters – the Luminaries!

When you become a Luminary by pledging to donate monthly, you will join a community of supporters providing a stable foundation for Illuminate Colorado’s work strengthening families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment.

To help us get this new community off to a STRONG START, and in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Brenda and Raymond French family will donate $100 for every new Luminary pledge made through the end of April.

This means you could add $100 to your donation just by giving BEFORE May 1st!

As a Luminary, you’ll get all sorts of perks!

  •       You get access to exclusive events. We already have several lunch & learns scheduled!
  •       You will receive regular updates from the executive director.
  •       We’ll send you a free bouquet of Pinwheels for you to display if you become a Luminary before the end of April!
  •       And more!

We’re so excited about this growing community and are looking forward to having you as a partner in the amazing work that we get to do.

Join us and help build brighter childhoods in Colorado by becoming a Luminary today.

Illuminate Colorado is Giving Away 40,000 Pinwheels To Inspire A Conversation

Illuminate Colorado is Giving Away 40,000 Pinwheels To Inspire A Conversation

Growing A Better Tomorrow, Together

Communities have a BIG influence in families’ lives. ​Just like a plant is more likely to thrive in a garden with good soil and plenty of sunlight and water, families are more likely to thrive in nurturing communities.​

Every day, you can plant seeds for all children to grow up happy and healthy.   

DENVER, March 30, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Illuminate Colorado (Illuminate), the Colorado Chapter for Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA America), has given away 30,000 free Pinwheels for Prevention® to inspire Coloradans to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together. The nonprofit working to strengthen families, organizations and communities is calling on an additional 10,000 Coloradans to claim their FREE pinwheels and plant them in their front yards and neighborhoods as part of a national movement to recognize the importance of community-based support for all children and families during National Child Abuse Prevention Month this April, and all year-long.

“We can build healthier, safer and thriving communities if we take the same approach to raising families that we do to tending a community garden on a shared piece of land. Just like a plant is more likely to thrive in a garden with good soil and plenty of sunlight and water, families are more likely to thrive in nurturing communities,” said Jade Woodard, executive director of Illuminate Colorado.

Throughout the month of April, Illuminate and other PCAA chapters, as well as local supporters in more than 150 cities in Colorado, are planting pinwheels and using this community garden metaphor to reinforce the message that “every day, we help positive childhood experiences take root.” Planting a pinwheel represents the bright childhoods we all want for children.

“Research shows that positive childhood experiences in nurturing environments provide fertile ground for physical and mental health, learning, and social skills,” explained Dr. Melissa Merrick, president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America. “By preventing child abuse and neglect we aim to holistically improve the lives of all families and the communities they live in.”

The Coronavirus outbreak and its subsequent losses have changed the world and prevention professionals are still working to understand the pandemic’s repercussions for incidents of child maltreatment to reduce adversity in childhood. The pandemic experience has had a consequential impact on an entire generation of children, sadly some more than others. Too many of our children have likely experienced at least one adverse childhood experience by now. Communities must nurture them going forward to heal.

The risk to our nation’s children for experiencing child abuse and neglect in times of extreme stress and uncertainty is quite high. COVID-19 has added stressors to the lives of parents and caregivers, such as loss of employment, loss of income due to lack of paid leave, school and business closings that necessitate new child care and homeschool arrangements, and food insecurity. The social connections and community services and activities that serve as protective factors against child abuse and neglect may not exist in this extraordinary time of physical distancing.

But few news reports since the COVID-19 pandemic began have focused on issues related to child abuse beyond the volume reports of child abuse, with an Associated Press analysis released this week highlighting a national total decrease of 18 percent in both total reports and investigations. Media coverage has overlooked the importance of protective factors that help buffer families from the negative consequences of exposure to risks, like isolation, unemployment, substance use and mental illness, by reducing the impact of the risk or changing the way a person parenting responds to the risk.

Families get overloaded with stress or risks and, like a truck carrying too much weight, they can’t move forward. But when parents, friends, family, employers, neighbors and community leaders know how to lighten the load by increasing the following protective factors, that is how tragedy can be avoided.

Having the Pinwheels Conversation 
Far too many people, parents and professionals alike,  don’t know how to prevent child abuse. Research has shown five Protective Factors have the power to prevent and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect.

“It is time to have a different conversation about helping families upstream. There is more than one narrative connected to child abuse prevention than whether or not reports are down or up, in fact there are at least five different stories to tell. If there is a child at home or in your neighborhood then every day, you have a responsibility to plant the seeds for all children to grow up happy and healthy and we all have a responsibility to help you grow a better tomorrow,” continued Woodard.

When we increase these five protective factors for all families, we strengthen families, prevent child abuse and build brighter childhoods.

1. 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. 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. 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. 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.

5. 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.

So this April, during child abuse prevention month, the hope is at least 10,000 more people will plant a pinwheel.  And, by the end of the month, with 40,000 pinwheels planted in front yards and neighborhoods throughout the state, more people will know how to plant the seeds for all children to grow up happy and healthy.

Illuminate also recommends the following ways that people everywhere can dig in and help raise awareness and impact virtually during child abuse month:

  • Thursday, April 1, wear blue to show support for positive childhood experiences. Post a photo or video on social media and include the #WearBlueDay2021. Join together at 10:00 AM with Governor Jared Polis for the virtual launch of National Child Abuse Prevention Month in Colorado on Illuminate’s Facebook page.
  • Enter the #GrowingBetterTogether Photo Contest. Submit a pinwheels photo for a chance to win a grant for your favorite Colorado nonprofit serving children and families! Photos with the most votes on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 at 1:00 pm (MTN) win the opportunity to select a Colorado nonprofit serving children and families to receive grants of $1,000, $300 and $200. See the campaign website for official rules.
  • Join a FREE two-hour interactive virtual introductory course to learn how to “bring the protective factors to life” at home, work and in your community. Offered April 19, from 10:00 am  12:00 pm and April 21 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Get inspired to move from knowledge to action in your community.
  • April 8 is World Day for Prevention and Healing from Child Sexual Abuse — every survivor and their loved ones need access to services for healing and resilience. Together, we can reach a tipping point in Colorado where children grow up happy, healthy and safe in communities that prevent children from experiencing sexual abuse. If enough adults in a community take a FREE two-hour interactive online training then, together, we can create a new standard of child safety in your community and throughout Colorado. Visit TipColorado.org to help your county reach the tipping point.
  • Join PCAA, sorority partners at Kappa Delta and Sigma Delta Tau and Illuminate in a Digital Advocacy Day. Contact your elected officials and spread the word about policy change that’s vital to the well-being of children and their families. Visit IlluminateColorado.org/2021policy for a guide to what policies and legislation in Colorado build protective factors.
  • Use the hashtag #GrowingBetterTogether to connect to the movement in your community, find other ways to get involved and signify your commitment to helping children, families and entire communities to thrive. Illuminate Colorado is by no means the only organization in Colorado working to strengthen families or raise awareness during this time. Look for pinwheels in your community to begin to pop up soon as a sign of a family-friendly organization or home committed to planting the seeds for all children to grow up happy and healthy.

Visit COPinwheelsForPrevention.org to get involved, enter the #GrowingBetterTogether Photo Contest and learn more about how to strengthen your family and the families in your community.

About Illuminate Colorado
Illuminate Colorado is a statewide nonprofit strengthening families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment. With a research-based approach that emphasizes building promotive and protective factors, we address systemic and multi-sector issues by collaborating with families and partners at the community, state and national level to develop and implement powerful programs, policies and initiatives that keep kids safe in Colorado. Visit www.IlluminateColorado.org to learn more.

About Prevent Child Abuse America
Prevent Child Abuse America is a leading champion for all children in the United States. Founded in 1972 and headquartered in Chicago, we are the nation’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect, working to actively prevent all forms of child abuse and neglect before they occur. Our success is founded on a nationwide network of state chapters and nearly 600 Healthy Families America home visiting sites, which directly provide parents and caregivers a wide variety of services and resources that help children grow up to be productive, contributing members of their communities and society. Our comprehensive approach is informed by science—we translate and disseminate innovative research to promote proven solutions that our vast network then puts into action. And we raise public awareness and advocate for family friendly policies at the national, state, and local levels to support transformative programs and promote the conditions and contexts that help children, families, and communities across the country thrive. Visit preventchildabuse.org to learn more.

Say It Louder For the People In the Back

Say It Louder For the People In the Back

Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time to stand up and speak out, but too often it feels like we are preaching to the choir. Now is the time to say it louder for the people in the back. You need only to look at the media coverage associated with the words “child abuse or “child welfare” to see the need for greater awareness for prevention. There are few solutions included in those stories beyond monitoring whether reports are up or down.

And while connecting a child and their family to support through human services is life-saving, there is more than one narrative in this story. Ask yourself, how often are programs available to all children and families recognized for what they are – critical solutions to this heartbreaking problem? If you asked your neighbor what those solutions were, could they tell you how to create positive childhood experiences in your community or what the protective factors are? If you see a pinwheel planted in their front yard, the answer is likely yes. 

That is why we coordinate this awareness effort in Colorado. And thankfully, it is not uncommon for organizations and people dedicating their careers to serving children and families involved in the child welfare system and helping survivors heal to advocate for what is needed to address issues leading to children and families floating downstream. Now is the time to double our efforts to not only advocate for adequate intervention, but also work to put ourselves out of business.

Our collective effort to scream the solutions and whisper the problem begins this Thursday, National Wear Blue Day. Hopefully, by the end of the month, with 40,000 pinwheels planted in front yards and neighborhoods throughout the state, more people will know how to plant the seeds for all children to grow up happy and healthy. And next year, the choir grows. 

Pinwheels for Prevention® Giveaway!

Illuminate Colorado is giving away 40,000 FREE Pinwheels for Prevention® to inspire ​Coloradans to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together. 

Enter the #GrowingBetterTogether Photo Contest!

Enter a photo for a chance to win a grant for your favorite Colorado nonprofit serving children and families! Photos with the most votes on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 at 1:00 pm (MTN) win the opportunity to select a Colorado nonprofit serving children and families to receive the following prizes:
1st Prize – $1000 mini grant
2nd Prize –  $300 mini grant
3rd Prize – $200 mini grant

 

Use Pinwheels for Prevention®

  • Give the pinwheels as a gift to another family to let them know you care

  • Display them in the background of your virtual meetings
  • Share pictures on social media #GrowingBetterTogether to promote positive childhood experiences

Ways to Get Involved

Follow #GrowingBetterTogether to Connect to the Movement in Your Community

Tag us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to Let Us Know You are Committed to #GrowingBetterTogether

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Subscribe

Subscribe to Illuminate Colorado’s blog to find out about more activities planned for Child Abuse Prevention Month.

One in Three Families Need Help Meeting Their Diaper Needs

One in Three Families Need Help Meeting Their Diaper Needs

Just as a vehicle can only bear so much weight before it stops moving forward, challenging life circumstances can overburden parents, making it hard for them to provide the best kinds of care and support. To prevent a breakdown in care, community organizations and neighbors can keep the heaviest loads from weighing families down. Legislation and investment through Senate Bill 21-27 Emergency Supplies for Colorado Babies and Families will help make that possible.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, one in three families reported needing more diapers. With increased unemployment due to the pandemic, the need likely continues even higher. Ensuring families have access to diapers supports multiple Protective Factors, including concrete support and parental resilience. Illuminate Colorado is proud to join over 70 organizations in support of Senate Bill 21-27. The bill would provide $2 million in funding in both 2021 and 2022 for nonprofit distribution centers to purchase and provide diapering essentials (diapers, wipes, and diaper creams) to low-income families across the state.

Parents report reusing disposable diapers and using plastic bags or toilet paper when they run out of money for diapers. These “alternatives” lead to painful rashes and health complications, potentially causing infants and toddlers to become more fussy and more likely to cry. Increased infant crying has been found to be associated with increased rates of abusive head trauma, the leading cause of physical child abuse. An adequate supply of diapers is a tangible way of reducing parenting stress, a critical factor influencing child health and development. SB21-27 will support Colorado families’ health and economic security.

According to the National Diaper Bank Network, it costs at least $80 per month to diaper a child. SB21-27 is especially cost-effective as the diapering supplies would be purchased in bulk. While some families may have resources to drive to a warehouse club or supermarket to buy diapers in bulk, some families located in resource deserts may be limited to convenience stores where diapers come in smaller packages with a much higher average price per diaper. This bill will increase financial security of families, as well as support child care access because families are typically required to supply eight disposable diapers a day for their child to attend child care.

Interested in Supporting SB21-27

Here’s how to take action:

 

Review the 2021 Policy Agenda

Download the 2021 Illuminating Policy Agenda with key highlighting specific protective factors each policy builds in Colorado.

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Use the Illuminate Colorado Bill Tracker to stay up to date on legislation in Colorado strengthening families, including Senate Bill 21-27 Emergency Supplies for Colorado Babies and Families. 

Illuminate Colorado Takes On New Role Supporting Home Visiting in Colorado

Illuminate Colorado Takes On New Role Supporting Home Visiting in Colorado

DOWNLOAD THE NEWS RELEASE

Denver, CO (March 23, 2021) – Illuminate Colorado (Illuminate) announced the organization has become the state office for Healthy Families America (HFA), Prevent Child Abuse America’s (PCA America) signature home visiting program and one of the leading family support and evidence-based home visiting programs in the United States. 

This expansion of Illuminate programs and services strengthening families, organizations and communities in Colorado means the organization will coordinate communication with HFA sites within the state, serve as a conduit of communication to the national office and provide a voice in Colorado for HFA, while advocating for a continuum of home visiting services in Colorado.

A wide range of studies show that when parents participate in HFA, children are healthier, experience fewer adverse childhood events and demonstrate long-term improvements in school performance.

Dr. Melissa Merrick

President and Chief Executive Officer, Prevent Child Abuse America

“Our organization has a strong history of partnering on national, state and local levels to promote the benefits of home visiting in Colorado. We know that early, nurturing relationships are the foundation for healthy development and essential for children to reach their full potential. As the Colorado Chapter of PCA America, we are excited to take on this new role supporting the local HFA sites here in Colorado,” said Jade Woodard executive director for Illuminate. “Home visiting programs should be a critical component of every community’s plan to prevent child maltreatment. Places where everyone recognizes our shared obligation to help parents be the parents they want to be are societies where children and families thrive,” continued Woodard. 

HFA is a two-generation home visiting model proven to demonstrate powerful outcomes for children, parents and communities. The home visiting model has the highest rating of “well-supported” by Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse, giving states and county human service agencies the ability to pay for HFA services with federal resources made available through the Family First Prevention Services Act

“A wide range of studies show that when parents participate in HFA, children are healthier, experience fewer adverse childhood events and demonstrate long-term improvements in school performance,” said Dr. Melissa Merrick, president and chief executive officer of PCA America, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing child trauma. “Additionally, we see an increase in family functioning and self-sufficiency, as well as broad health and fiscal benefits—these are among the many positive impacts HFA has on communities, and we’re proud to be partnering with Illuminate Colorado to extend home visiting across the state.”

Studies of HFA show parents experience dramatic gains in education, leading to increased family income and tax revenues for the community. Children in families involved in HFA score higher on tests measuring cognitive development and improve academic performance. Healthier birth rates, lower complications, and reductions in child neglect and abuse are also correlated with participation in HFA, with rigorous studies showing a 70% reduction in pregnancy complications and 48% fewer cases of low-weight births. 

Much is being done right now to ultimately ensure home visiting is available to families in all Colorado communities. The Early Childhood Leadership Commission Home Visitation Investment Task Force is working to develop a strategy to scale a home visiting continuum in Colorado. In addition to serving on this task force, Illuminate is proud to support and collaborate through multiple coalitions working to strengthen and advance effective home visiting services across Colorado and prevent infant and maternal mortality. 

There are two community-based organizations currently using the HFA home visiting model in Colorado; Early Childhood Partners Healthy Families Vail Valley (Healthy Families Vail Valley) program serves families in the Eagle River Valley and the Family Visitor Program Healthy Families Aspen to Parachute program (Family Visitor Programs) serves families in that Colorado region. 

“Since Family Visitor Programs brought the Healthy Families America model to Colorado in 2011, we have anticipated the day HFA could be represented by a state office,” said Sandy Swanson, executive director Family Visitor Programs. “Illuminate’s willingness to take on this role will strengthen and expand the model by making it available to all communities in Colorado.” 

“Healthy Families Vail Valley is thrilled to see the HFA model strengthened in Colorado with the development of Illuminate Colorado as our state intermediary, ” said Megan McGee Bonta, manager, of the Healthy Families Vail Valley program. “It will help build a stronger network to serve and build resilience in Colorado families and children and we look forward to continuing to partner with the organization and the incredible work they are doing!”

Related Topics

Home Visiting in Colorado – 

Most parents need people they can call on once in a while when they need a sympathetic listener, advice or concrete supports. Home visitors help parents bring out the best in themselves by tapping into the skills they already possess. Home visiting programs are proven to have positive impacts on children, families and communities.

Contact Us

Learn more about Health Families America in Colorado

It’s Pinwheel Planting Season!

It’s Pinwheel Planting Season!

Every day, we help positive childhood experiences take root. Planting pinwheels represents the bright childhoods we all want for children. Since 2009, as the Colorado Chapter for Prevent Child Abuse America, Illuminate Colorado has lead an effort to distribute pinwheels throughout our state to raise awareness for the prevention of child abuse and strengthening families. 

And since the beginning of the Pinwheels for Prevention® Campaign in Colorado, our collective efforts have grown exponentially with hundreds of local organizations and individuals distributing more than fifty thousand pinwheels each year. It was an amazing effort, that is until last year. Just as we were getting started distributing pinwheels the pandemic hit Colorado and we have been storing approximately forty thousand pinwheels in our offices ever since.

And while life may have not returned to normal yet, we are not going to let that deter us from doing what our organization always does this time of year – get ready for child abuse prevention month in April. However, we also know we can’t rely on our tried and true strategy of connecting with community organizations, early childhood councils, human service agencies, advocates and schools to inspire their communities to strengthen families. Those folks are busy and STRESSED dedicating their careers to creating positive childhood experiences and supporting people parenting during this incredibly stressful time in all of our lives.

This year, we need to look to you – our friends, families and neighbors – to plant pinwheels in your front yards or neighborhoods as a symbol of support for the bright childhoods we all want for children. We know we need this reminder now more than ever. 

To that end, we are excited to announce that – for the first time thanks to the generous support of our Board of Directors and the philanthropic community- Illuminate Colorado is giving away 40,000 FREE Pinwheels for Prevention® to inspire ​Coloradans to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together. 

Pinwheels for Prevention® Giveaway!

Illuminate Colorado is giving away 40,000 FREE Pinwheels for Prevention® to inspire ​Coloradans to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together. 

The coronavirus outbreak and its subsequent losses have changed our world permanently. In the United States and likely your community, parents and professionals alike are still trying to adapt and understand the new landscape that the pandemic has created and its repercussions for raising happy healthy children. 

The risk to our nation’s children for experiencing child abuse and neglect in times of extreme stress and uncertainty is quite high. COVID-19 has added stressors to the lives of parents and caregivers, such as loss of employment, loss of income due to lack of paid leave, school and business closings that necessitate new childcare and homeschool arrangements, and food insecurity.

Physical distancing leads to the unintended consequence of isolation. The social connections and community services and activities that serve as protective factors against child abuse and neglect under ordinary conditions may not exist in this extraordinary time of physical distancing. 

Join us in planting the seeds of a better tomorrow for children and families in your community by visiting COPinwheelsForPevention.org to get your free pinwheels TODAY.  

There is a limit of 100 FREE pinwheels per household or organization and shipping and handling costs are not included in this special offer. 

Use Pinwheels for Prevention®

  • Give the pinwheels as a gift to another family to let them know you care

  • Display them in the background of your virtual meetings
  • Share pictures on social media #GrowingBetterTogether to promote positive childhood experiences

Ways to Get Involved

Follow #GrowingBetterTogether to Connect to the Movement in Your Community

Tag us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to Let Us Know You are Committed to #GrowingBetterTogether

"

Subscribe

Subscribe to Illuminate Colorado’s blog to find out about more activities planned for Child Abuse Prevention Month.

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