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. 

Joining 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

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

Illuminate Colorado’s 2021 Policy Agenda

Illuminate Colorado’s 2021 Policy Agenda

The Colorado General Assembly is reconvening on Tuesday, February 16th after a month-long pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Advocacy work in a virtual environment will continue to require flexibility and adaptation, and Illuminate remains committed to ensuring our state’s policies build brighter childhoods.

Using a racial equity lens, the 2021 Illuminate Colorado Policy Agenda was crafted with a focus across all three levels of prevention to build research-based protective factors in families and to ensure appropriate system and community responses. 

Review the 2021 Policy Agenda

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

Read the high-level summary below:

Primary Prevention

These strategies build protective factors in all families to prevent child maltreatment before it occurs–including addressing systemic barriers to building protective factors across the population.

  • Prioritize primary prevention in federal and state budgets; key focus areas include home visiting, family planning, family resource centers and adult education about child sexual abuse prevention.
  • Strengthen economic supports to families; including access to quality, affordable and stable housing and child care across Colorado.
  • Implement family friendly work policieskey focus areas include ensuring livable wages as well as the implementation of the statewide paid family and medical leave program.

Secondary Prevention

These strategies build protective factors in families in high stress situations to prevent child maltreatment before it occurs–including addressing systemic barriers to strengthening families in high stress situations.

  • Ensure and expand support for families impacted by substance use; such as equitable screening and connection to behavior health resources in prenatal and postpartum care.
  • Ensure and expand support for families impacted by intimate partner violence; particularly supporting education and resources for professionals to identify and support children and families impacted by intimate partner violence.

Tertiary Prevention

These strategies build protective factors in families to prevent recurrence of child maltreatment–including addressing systemic barriers to healing & recovery

  • Ensure communities identify and support children and families when abuse and neglect has occurred; focusing on creating equitable access to services to support healing and recovery.
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Stay up to date on policy that prevents child maltreatment and the 2021 Illuminating Policy Agenda by subscribing to Illuminate’s blog.

Register today for the 10th annual Speak Up for Kids Day (not) at the Capitol!

Illuminate encourages everyone to participate in Colorado’s Annual Speak up for Kids Day on Thursday, March 18, 2021 from 8:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m.

It is essential for elected officials and policy makers to understand how to prevent child maltreatment and listen to parents in every community.

This year’s event will be hosted virtually, yet still filled with tips and training on advocacy and lobbying skills, strategizing and role-playing for talking to lawmakers, opportunities to hear about key issues for kids and families, and more. Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Children’s Campaign and Clayton Early Learning are hosting the event.

Register at www.bit.ly/2021speakup and email advocacy@childrenscolorado.org with any questions.

The FASD Project is Coming to Denver Feb 12-13

The FASD Project is Coming to Denver Feb 12-13

The FASD project is a film seeking to rapidly increase awareness of the risks of alcohol consumption in pregnancy within a short period of time, given the significant increase in alcohol consumption since the onset of the global pandemic.

This film aims to bring awareness about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and provide detailed scientific information on prevention, while aiming to start discussions about solutions to current problems facing the community. Through the course of our film journey, producers will be interviewing top scientists, clinicians, psychologists, lawyers, directors of Public Health offices and health institutes, and most importantly, parents and family members of individuals with a FASD.

They will follow ‘a day in the life’ of those living with and impacted by a FASD to present to the viewers how living with an FASD shows up in day-to-day life.

Focusing on impacted individuals who are doing well in addition to individuals who are not faring as well due to incarceration, homelessness or major mental health challenges exacerbated by FASD, this film is aim to share your lived experiences. 

As the Colorado Chapter of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome  (NOFAS), Illuminate Colorado is encouraging anyone willing to share their experiences to participate in this important opportunity. The FASD Project is tentatively scheduled to visit in the greater Denver  to engage with people willing on Friday February 12th and Saturday February 13th.

If you are interested in learning more or want to signing up, visit www.thefasdproject.com.

You can also get answers to many questions regarding things like COVID precautions during photoshoots by downloading the The FASD Project Photoshoot FAQs.

Share your FASD Story
Help the Home Visiting Task Force Make Improvements in Colorado

Help the Home Visiting Task Force Make Improvements in Colorado

Home Visiting in Colorado - Survey Opportunity

Are your kids ages 0 up to 6 years of old? If so, the Home Visiting Task Force in Colorado wants to hear from you before January 27th! The Home Visiting Task Force, coordinated by the Colorado Department of Human Services, is working to learn more about home visiting services in Colorado and how best to support parents and caregivers.

The first 100 respondents to the survey will receive a $10 gift card to either City Market or Amazon. There will also be the opportunity to participate in an English and Spanish focus group in February.

 

 

Spanish Survey Link

English Survey Link

The survey should take 10 minutes, asking questions about:

 

  • the resources and support you have available to you,
  • the strengths of the community you live in, and
  • your experiences with home visiting services you currently get or had in the past, if you’ve received these services.

Confidentiality will be kept no matter what. Your responses will aid the Home Visiting Task Force in making improvements to home visiting services in Colorado.

 

 

 

The Positive Impact of Child Care For Parents Is as Sweet as Honey

The Positive Impact of Child Care For Parents Is as Sweet as Honey

Illuminating Child Care isn’t just delivering a service that is the foundation to all thriving economies by providing child care. It’s a program tearing down barriers, meeting parents where they are at and allowing families to grow stronger together. We sat down to talk with two parents among the first to rely on Illuminating Child Care to find out what impact having free access to child care teachers helping their infants and toddlers learn and grow onsite means to them while they are trying to get the support they need to strengthen their families.  

“As a single mother, and as a single mother in recovery, the greatest barrier to me being able to complete those tasks that I need to complete and stay on track would be child care,” said Karie, one of several parents who’ve depended on Illuminating Child Care over the last month. “Honey is allowing me, as a mother, to stay on top of those other parts of my life so well.”

Honey is the name of Illuminate’s first mobile child care classroom, which began serving the Denver metro area this Fall by visiting places where people are addressing issues like mental health concerns, substance use disorders, or employment challenges, so parents and providers don’t have to worry about arranging for child care. The second, yet to be named, mobile child care classroom is scheduled to begin serving communities in the San Luis Valley early next year. 

One of the things Karie said she loves about Illuminating Child Care is that, even though she and Ava, her infant daughter, are apart for a short time, she doesn’t miss out on what’s happening with her daughter. “They provide the little report cards that allow me to stay updated with what’s happening with Ava during those couple of hours or so, so I know exactly what’s gone on with my child while she’s in the (mobile child care classroom). It allows me to not miss a beat as a mother.”

Illuminating Child Care couldn’t have come at a better time for Leana, a parent who not only uses Illuminating Child Care, but also helped advise Illuminate on the development of the program and services. “It’s a great program for the season of life that I’m in right now,” Leana said. “I believe that it’s just part of the new leaf that I’m turning over in my life. I think it’s a great program that’s available for mothers or fathers…. I believe these things are put in place for a reason.”

Having a safe place to take Nora, Leana’s daughter, has also allowed her to take time to work on important things in her life. “I can take care of some personal business and I can do the things that I need to take care of onsite there and I know that she is in good hands,” Leana said. “Even though it was a little scary at first, you know, being a mom and leaving your child. . . . I just felt that it was a really calming experience.”

According to Karie, it’s been such a gift to have someone to watch over her daughter, Ava. The communication and love from the Illuminate staff are so important and so meaningful to both her and her daughter. “I just love them so much,” Karie said of Madison, Eric and Patsy, the Illuminate staff on Honey. “I feel like they love Ava and I love that. I just have no worries or stress. I don’t doubt the level of care they provide for Ava.

Before any parent can begin to address any complex issue impacting their family, like mental health concerns, substance use disorders, or employment challenges, they are far too often faced, first, with struggling to find child care. This fall, Illuminate Colorado launched Illuminating Child Care, our newest program, bringing an innovative systemic-approach to increasing access to child care for parents and caregivers navigating complex life situations. The program may just be getting started, but lives are already being impacted, including Karie, Ava, Leana and Nora. 

 

No One, in Fact, Is Better Than Ezra

No One, in Fact, Is Better Than Ezra

If you don’t know what Imposter Syndrome is, Ezra, a Coloradan father, can tell you all about it. Working through a divorce, going back to school to pursue a career change and dealing with health issues all made for an extremely difficult year for him. Going through all of this in the midst of a world-wide pandemic didn’t help and Ezra was also starting the process of sharing custody of his 5-year-old daughter in the middle of it all. 

Though he constantly tried his best, Ezra said he often worried that he might not measure up to being a good father. Imposter Syndrome, where one doubts their skills or accomplishments and often feels like a fraud, was becoming all too real to him, that is until he found his Circle of Father’s group. 

Ezra received a simple text message from Bright By Text, a FREE subscription-based text messaging service that offers resources to people parenting. The text was promoting a group of dads and male caregivers that were getting together online weekly to support each other and talk about whatever they want. 

“I was a little uncertain before joining. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if I would fit in,” Ezra said reflecting on his reservations about attending the group. But those concerns became irrelevant after getting on that first call, adding that “there were no requirements. There were no expectations. It was just a bunch of guys on a call being welcoming…. If I had to sum it up in one emotion, it was relief.  I’d found a group of people I could confide in, ask for advice, and relax around.  Each of them had been in a similar place before, and all had something to add to the conversation.” 

Through Circle of Fathers, Ezra has been able to open up to this group of guys, be real with them and get the support and encouragement that he was needing. The other guys in the group helped him see that what he was doing for his daughter was not only enough, but was often more than many parents were able to do for their children.  They helped Ezra to accept that he didn’t have to live up to the unrealistic expectations that he had set for himself. “I’d formed a picture of what a ‘father’ was from what I’d seen in movies and on television. I thought I had to be a ‘superdad’. It took me a while, but they helped me believe I actually did measure up,” said Ezra. It wasn’t about cooking the biggest breakfast every morning or having all the answers all the time. It was about being there for his daughter, supporting her needs and loving her the best that he could. “There are no judgements at Circle of Fathers. It is all about being there for each other,” Ezra said.  

The truth is that life can be difficult at times and there are curves in the road we don’t expect. For these times, we all need support and acceptance. And sometimes just having someone there to listen is the most helpful thing you can find. And that’s what Circle of Fathers has been for Ezra. It’s a place he can go, judgement-free, and share what he’s going through. The guys are always there for him, offering support and giving advice when needed. But most importantly, they help him remember that he isn’t a fraud at all. He is, in fact, a good dad.

As the Colorado state chapter lead for Circle of Parents, Illuminate Colorado offers training, ongoing support and promotion to the 43 Circle groups meeting mostly online right now. There are plans in place to grow to nearly 60 Circle groups throughout Colorado by the end of 2021. Learn more about Circle of Fathers and other Circle of Parents groups in Colorado by visiting CircleOfParentsCO.org.

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