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.
It has been a year like no other, we’ve all found new ways to bring people together, even when we are physically apart. As we move toward the end of the year, it appears as though the stress on people raising people is getting even more intense with schools moving to online learning.
We’ve put together a checklist to strengthen your family and the families around you before the end of the year to help spread positivity this holiday season.
25 Ways to Strengthen Families Before the End of the Year
1. Listen to someone who needs to talk about what is going on in their life. Check in with a mother or father to see how they are doing.
2. Pick one stressed out parent that you know, find out if they have any allergies in their home and tell them you have got dinner covered. Doordash makes it pretty easy to have dinner delivered these days. You can’t put a price on this kind of support, and they will appreciate the kindness from people they trust.
3. Organize a neighborhood party so families can connect safely on Zoom.
4. Ask a family if they need something picked up the next time you run to the store.
5. Schedule time for an activity that can help you decompress, relax and recharge. Take a quite bath, try Bloom Yoga or take a walk and listen to your favorite song.
6. Join a parent support group to find other parents like you. Parents we are only human and we need each other. If your work isn’t offering a parent support group, share the online Circle of Parents groups and invite others to join.
7. Shovel snow. It is one less thing that you can take off a parent’s plate in your neighborhood.
8. Donate gently used children’s clothing, furniture and toys to another family or buy a few arts and crafts activities for a family with a little one.
9. Share positive stories about people, businesses or community programs helping families, especially if you have benefitted from someone else’s kindness. Kindness spreads and sharing stories is one way to breakdown stigma often attached to underutilized programs and services.
10. Share information about parenting and child development on your social media. When you find something that works for your kids, navigate a challenge or simply learn something new about those early years of brain development, share it with others. You never know who needs to hear it.
11. Organize a parents’ night out or Zoom play date. Everyone has to take a break sometime.
12. Add information about family-friendly resources on neighborhood websites on Nextdoor and help reduce stigma by letting others know you received support.
13. Remind people on social media it’s okay to ask and accept for support parenting. No one can do it alone.
14. Recognize a family in distress and don’t just offer support, give it. Take things off someone’s plate. Lead a fundraising effort for a family. If you are lucky enough to have not been impact significantly by this pandemic, pay it forward.
15. Promote a culture where it is okay for employees to reach out and ask for support and share community resources that support families.
16. Participate in an employee assistance program or maintain a list of available resources to support families.
17. Work with employees to manage workload in times of added stress and allow for flexibility for parents trying to balance work and online learning.
18. Create a community brag board so employees can show off kids, pets, holiday decorations homes and hobbies.
19. Offer “lunch and learns” for employees or host a speaker to learn more about child development, stress management and child abuse prevention.
20. Involve your organization in community events or sponsor a day of service for employees. There are countless organizations doing amazing work for families right now. Donate to a food bank, collect books and learning activities for families.
21. If this year has shown us anything it is that unexpected challenges like a job loss or illness can come at anytime. Learn about services for children and families in your community and make an emergency preparedness plan in case your family needs support. In getting your family prepared, you may learn more about how you can connect a friend or family to support as well.
22. Be kind to parents posting on social media. Never shame parents online, especially when they are being vulnerable. Post a word of encouragement letting someone else know you are thinking of them.
23. Light your luminary onSaturday, December 5th to let your community know you are committed to build brighter childhoods.
25. Post a picture or mention us on social media using#LightTheWayCO and let us know how you are bringing prevention to life by taking action to strengthen your families and the families around you. It doesn’t need to be on this lists. There are many ways to promote prevention. Think of more, post and we’ll share across Colorado.
Everyone wants the best for their child, but many parents, caregivers and families are struggling to manage life’s challenges and the demands of raising children right now. Before anyone can begin to address complex issues impacting their family, like a substance use disorder or a mental health concern, too often parents must first face the stress of finding child care. That is why it is critical that treatment providers talk to their clients about what resources are available to parents to ease that burden on the path to recovery.
Outreaching to substance use treatment providers, in particular, is an important strategy for Colorado to prevent child maltreatment. Most referrals to the child welfare system related to substance use are for children under the age of one month. While pregnancy and motherhood can be an increased time of motivation for substance use disorder treatment, access to child care is a significant barrier to treatment. Prior to the pandemic, 35 percent of Colorado women who sought treatment had a child, but only 3.3 percent of outpatient substance use disorder treatment facilities in Colorado provide child care. Now, with the increased use of telehealth, it is even more important to aid clients in finding child care to ease parental stress at home.
Step One - If a client has a child, ask if they know about Colorado Shines.
Colorado is lucky to have Colorado Shines, one of the best tools in a families’ toolbox for building strong families. This resource offers families one-on-one support, in both English and Spanish, to find licensed, quality child care. Call 1-877-338-CARE (2273) to talk with a Colorado Shines navigator Monday – Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or visit coloradoshines.com.
This judgement free zone offers information to guide us all through the choices we have to make at every age and stage of life to keep kids safe. Choosing someone to take care of your child in a world of limited options is a real part of parenting. Whether you are looking for a regular child care provider or someone to help out here and there, clients can get basic guidelines and good questions to ask to help ensure their child will be safe and well cared for in their absence.
If a parent should take an unfortunate detour on the path to recovery, having a conversation about leaving a child in the safe care of someone else is critical to preventing child maltreatment.
Step Three - Help Your Clients Connect to Healthy Communities
Staying on the path to recovery is easiest with a supportive community around you. Parents need each other and connecting with other parents in recovery is critical to maintaining sobriety. Circle of Parents® groups are friendly, supportive communities led by parents and other caregivers, where parents are the experts. Parents in treatment can find a list of Circle of Parents in Recovery groups at CircleOfParentsCO.org, including a statewide virtual recovery group meeting every week on Wednesday at 9:30 am and Friday at 7:00 pm.
Illuminate Colorado embraces our collective responsibility to outreach to parents, caregivers, community-based organizations and businesses to promote safe care-giving and high-quality child care through Illuminating Child Care. We know parents trying to navigate challenging situations need a community’s help to shine a light on tools in their tool box to strengthen their families.
We hope substance use treatment providers and behavioral health management organizations will join us in this shared responsibility to keep children safe by downloading this flyer to help share these resources with clients to build brighter childhoods.
More than one thousand professionals from the family support continuum, from prevention and public health through restoration and child welfare gathered for the 2020 Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference. And just as we would want for all Colorado families, the conference got off to a strong start with a keynote presentation from Dr. Angela Narayan, an assistant professor in the clinical child psychology doctoral program in the Department of Psychology at the University of Denver. Narayan directs the Promoting Resilience in Offspring and Targeting Early Childhood Trajectories (PROTECT) Lab at the University examining the intergenerational transmission of risk and resilience from parents to children, with a particular focus on the perinatal period as a window of opportunity to buffer the transmission of trauma and promote resilience in both mothers and fathers, and their children.
WATCH THE KEYNOTE ADDRESS
While Dr. Narayan’s talk reviewed her important research and findings, it was not meant to be technical, but instead advocated for practical uses of the findings to date on the importance of Benevolent Childhood Experiences (BCEs) as a Counterpoint to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in community mental health, pediatric and primary care screening and home visiting programs. After accounting for demographics and ACEs, this research has shown higher levels of BCEs significantly predict lower levels of depression, anxiety and PTSD symptoms. This research also found that when someone experienced ACEs and not BCEs, there was evidence of aggressive behavior, alcohol abuse and substance use.
There is a decade of research demonstrating the impacts of ACEs, like experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect, witnessing violence in the home or community or having a family member attempt or die by suicide. These traumatic events during childhood are linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance misuse in adulthood. ACEs can also negatively impact education and job opportunities.(1) Having studied ACEs for many years, Narayan said she “always felt like we are missing half the story by not also assessing positive childhood experiences.” This BCEs research highlights “the pregnancy period as an opportune window to help buffer the transmission of trauma in families who are at risk for various types of adversity”, said Narayan. Narayan’s presentation highlighted ways the findings from research of the use of a BCEs Screening Tool can be leveraged to build resilience in children and families’ lives.
The tool, developed in part by Narayan, features ten simple questions found to be culturally sensitive and applicable across a variety of demographic and socioeconomic audiences. If people working with children and families begin to incorporate the FREE BCEs screening tool, there is great potential to prevent child maltreatment and future chronic health problems, mental illness and substance misuse in adulthood, found to be present in the lives of adults who experienced a high number of adverse childhood experiences.
“Obviously, we can’t change the experiences that adults had in their childhoods, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t ask about them, leverage them, bring them to the forefront as much as possible in order to help families in future generations.” Narayan bases much of her work on the perspective that “positive and negative experiences lay the foundation, but experiences that accumulate throughout someone’s life also continue to be very influential in terms of predicting the pathways that they are on and where they might deviate.”
An example of practical implications for practitioners and clinicians given by Narayan was to leverage what BCEs have been identified as common. The positive experiences in childhood not in bold below are present for most people, so, if someone answers no, that can be an indicator of risk. On the flip side, four out of five people indicated that they did not have the experiences in bold. These things are less common, but are important because higher levels of BCEs impact adulthood. Narayan encourages practitioners and clinicians alike to ask themselves how we can specifically encourage these less common experiences in families to build resilience in future generations.
When you were growing up, during your first 18 years of life:
Did you have at least one caregiver with whom you felt safe?
Did you have at least one good friend?
Did you have beliefs that gave you comfort?
Did you like school?
Did you have at least one teacher who cared about you?
Did you have good neighbors?
Was there an adult (not a parent/caregiver or the person from #1) who could provide you with support or advice?
Did you have opportunities to have a good time?
Did you like yourself or feel comfortable with yourself?
Did you have a predictable home routine, like regular meals and a regular bedtime? (2)
While this tool was developed for professionals, there is certainly no harm in asking yourself these ten simple questions from the BCEs Screening Tool to reflect upon your childhood or the childhood of the children in your life. Ask yourself, can you create more Benevolent Childhood Experiences?
All presentations at the Strengthening Families and Colorado Communities, and materials presented including the BCEs Screening Tool in English and Spanish will be available through the end of October 2020 on the conference website for attendees. Be sure to subscribe to the Illuminate Colorado Blog to be among the first to know when the 2022 conference date is announced. Hopefully, we will be able to convene the conference in person.