Reflecting on Progress Toward Prevention During the 2021 Colorado Legislative Session

Reflecting on Progress Toward Prevention During the 2021 Colorado Legislative Session

When families, organizations, communities and policy makers focus on building protective factors, we can effectively prevent child maltreatment and keep families strong during the pandemic and beyond. Last week, state legislators concluded the 2021 legislative session–which included some crucial wins for Colorado families.

Thank you to the Governor, legislators, staffers, advocates and community partners for their work to make the session so successful.

Illuminating the 2021 Colorado Legislative Session

Get a complete summary of progress made toward Illuminating policy during the most recent Colorado Legislative Session.  

Highlights from the 2021 Colorado Legislative Session:

  • Almost all of last year’s budget cuts to critical family strengthening supports were restored including state funding for Family Resource Centers, the Tony Grampsas Youth Services Program, The Colorado Children’s Trust Fund, evidence-based Home Visiting Programs, the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP), Child Abuse Response and Evaluation Network, the Child Fatality Prevention System, Comprehensive Sexual Education, Family Planning Program,  the Child Care Services and Substance Use Disorder Treatment Pilot Program, and the High Risk Pregnant Women Program.

  • The passage of HB21-1311 was a big win for family economic security. HB21-1311, Income Tax, expands the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and funds the Colorado Child Tax Credit (CTC), among numerous other provisions. The EITC and CTC are two of the most well-researched mechanisms for reducing childhood poverty. Refundable state EITCs are documented to reduce foster care entry rates, child maltreatment, and rates of abusive head trauma.

  • The passage of both SB21-073 and SB21-088 made important progress toward preventing and appropriately responding to child sexual abuse. SB21-073 removes the statute of limitations and other restrictions on bringing a civil claim based on sexual misconduct, allowing child and adult survivors time to heal so that they may access the civil legal system and monetary resources to thrive into adulthood after surviving sexual abuse. SB21-088 creates a new civil cause of action for any person sexually abused in Colorado while participating in a youth program as a child, ensuring that all survivors of child sexual abuse, including those who have delayed disclosing abuse into adulthood, have the opportunity to hold culpable and complicit individuals and organizations accountable.

The Work Continues
Advancing systemic improvements and policy change requires year-long collaboration. Below are just a few areas that require immediate attention to advance the 2021 Illuminating Agenda. We will all need to:   

  • Ensure Colorado makes practical investments in child maltreatment prevention using the billions of dollars the state will be receiving from the 2021 American Rescue Plan
  • Ensure Colorado makes practical investments in tailored, specialized services for families impacted by substance use using opioid settlement funds at the state and local level
  • Continue to advocate for family economic security and family friendly work policies, including livable wages for Colorado families.
  • Continue to prioritize resources for adult education about child sexual abuse prevention. 
  • Advocate federally:
    • For increased investments in proven child maltreatment prevention programs and services through MIECHV, CBCAP, and CAPTA
    • To advance Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) research, prevention, and services at the federal level through the FASD Respect Act

 

Review the 2021 Policy Agenda

Download the complete 2021 Illuminating Policy Agenda, highlighting specific protective factors each policy solution builds in Colorado.

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New Federal Safety Standard for Infant Sleep Products Help Make Smart Choices to Keep Kids Safe

New Federal Safety Standard for Infant Sleep Products Help Make Smart Choices to Keep Kids Safe

When you walk into any store to buy something for a new baby on the way, you assume that the products on the shelves are safe, but those who’ve spent some time learning about safe sleep recommendations and guidelines know that isn’t the case when it comes to infant sleep products. Earlier this month, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the approval of a new federal rule to ensure products marketed or intended for infant sleep will provide a safe sleep environment for babies under 5 months old. Beginning in mid-2022, any product intended or marketed for infant sleep must meet a federal safety standard—a requirement that does not exist today. 

The new mandatory standard will effectively eliminate potentially hazardous sleep products in the marketplace that do not currently meet a CPSC mandatory standard for infant sleep, such as inclined sleepers, travel and compact bassinets, and in-bed sleepers, which have been linked to dozens of infant deaths. Popular products formerly referred to as “inclined sleep products” include several styles that have been recalled over the years. In fact, just this week, Fisher-Price announced a recall of thousands of baby soothers, gliders after 4 infant deaths, including one baby from Colorado.  

“This change will be historic and save lives in Colorado,” said Kate Jankovsky, childhood adversity prevention manager with the Violence and Injury Prevention-Mental Health Promotion Branch of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and member of the Colorado Infant Safe Sleep Partnership. “This will make it easier for all consumers to buy, use and give infant sleep products as gifts. Today, many people are unknowingly buying products known to be unsafe for an infant to sleep.” 

The lack of regulation of infant sleep products and the abundance of unsafe sleep objects and devices manufactured and sold throughout the United States has frustrated advocates, health care professionals and parents who have lost children, alike, for years. Dr. Sunah S. Hwang, the Lula O. Lubchenco Chair in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine and Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Director of Perinatal Health Services Research with the University of Colorado School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics Section of Neonatology, highlighted the need for action by the Commission in The Call to Translate Data Into Action to Prevent Infant Death published just last month. Stating “[a]lthough states such as Ohio, Maryland, and New York have banned
the sale of unsafe items such as crib bumpers, these soft bedding objects continue to be manufactured,
marketed, and sold. The Consumer Product Safety Commission voted unanimously in 2020 to proceed with developing a federal safety rule that would ban the sale of crib bumpers that limit airflow. We eagerly await
the results of the federal rulemaking process.” Hwang highlighted the fact that

of SUID cases categorized as “explained” or “unexplained–possible suffocation,” 74% of airway obstructions were due to soft bedding. In short, 1145 infants may have survived their first year of life had soft bedding not been used during their sleep.”

Later this year, the Commission expects to consider federal safety standards for crib bumpers and crib mattresses. CPSC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have long warned of the dangers of bed-sharing or co-sleeping. The new rule does not take any action against bed-sharing without sleep products. Instead, it shifts responsibility to manufacturers to assist parents who want to bed-share, by requiring them to produce only products that are safe to do so. The new rule also does not extend to items that are expressly not intended or marketed for infant sleep, such as swings and car seats.

 

As a reminder, the safest place for a baby to sleep is a flat, bare surface dedicated to the infant. The Colorado Infant Safe Sleep Partnership is actively recruiting members interested in getting involved to support families, providers, organizations and policymakers to increase infant safe sleep practices and address related barriers and disparities, through education, practice change and systems improvement. 

Colorado Parent and 5280 Publishing Receives 2021 Illuminating Media Award

Colorado Parent and 5280 Publishing Receives 2021 Illuminating Media Award

The way information is framed in the media, the stories journalists, editors and producers choose to tell and the selection of images that get paired with those stories play an extraordinary role in shaping the environments in which we all live and raise our children. That is why Illuminate Colorado created the Illuminating Media Award, to recognize and shine a light on media outlets and journalists preventing child maltreatment through the stories they share with the community. This year, Illuminate Colorado has selected Colorado Parent and 5280 Publishing to receive the 2021 Illuminating Media Award for helping to build brighter childhoods in Colorado.

The pandemic created unprecedented levels of stress in parents’ lives. Over the course of almost a year and half now, in addition to all the normal trials and tribulations of parenthood, people raising children have had to navigate so much more than our parents before us as we tried our best to maintain our own mental health and literally do it all. 

Parents tried to work virtually from home while running an online classroom in the background. Frontline parents placed themselves at risk, distanced themselves from their families to care for others, and tried to stay emotionally connected to their children. Unemployed parents tried to navigate resources in the community to keep a roof over their heads and their children fed. We all tried and for that we all deserve to be congratulated because there is no perfect parent. Throughout it all Colorado’s go-to parenting guide became so much more to us during this pandemic and they too shifted so much of what they normally do. 

Colorado Parent Magazine expanded from the traditional print magazine we all picked up at the local supermarket or pediatrician’s office to a digital edition we could all rely on from the safety of our inboxes. It became a space that told stories and shared resources online to help Colorado parents and children get through this tough time and, hopefully, come out the otherside relatively unscathed. 

In addition to donating advertising and promotion as the Media Sponsor for the 2021 Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign helping Illuminate distribute more than 40,000 pinwheels throughout Colorado to raise awareness for the prevention of child maltreatment, Colorado Parent has provided a platform for local child development experts to share helpful tips and parents and caregivers to share stories that bring the Protective Factors to life all year-long. It is for this ongoing commitment to strengthen Colorado families and build knowledge of parenting and child development that we honor Colorado Parent and 5280 Publishing for illuminating media

Colorado Parent Bringing the Protective Factors to Life

Here a just a few of our favorites Colorado Parent stories over the last several months that have brought the Protective Factors to life: 

  • Father To Father: When Your Son Has Special Needs – The story of two fathers connecting, one far along the journey through parenthood with a multi-disabled son who was turning 31 and the other just beginning to grapple with his six year-old son’s Autism diagnosis. 
  • Powerful Puberty Class Teaches Moms and Daughters – Normalizing the continued conversations we should be having with our kids throughout their development, this is a great article highlighting one midwife and educator teaching moms and their tween and teen daughters about puberty, body image, and why we should celebrate—not squirm about—their changing bodies.

We look forward to the day when we can recognize the wonderful staff of Colorado Parent and 5280 Publishing in person with this award. In the meantime, we encourage everyone to check out Colorado Parent’s Free email newsletters and follow us on Twitter as we share more #IlluminatingMedia.

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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