DIY Ways to Promote Prevention in Your Community

DIY Ways to Promote Prevention in Your Community

Who doesn’t love a good do it yourself project for the whole family! It’s the perfect way to keep our creative minds going. We created the Inspiration Center to showcase some simple DIY ways people all over Colorado are getting out into their neighborhoods and communities to use Pinwheels for Prevention® to inspire a conversation about how every day, you can plant seeds for all children to grow up happy and healthy during Child Abuse Prevention Month. Here are just a few of our favorite ways to promote prevention with pinwheels! 

Create your Own Pinwheel Bouquet

Visit the  Inspiration Center Pinterest Board to find DIY instructions for making your own pinwheel bouquet! You will be able to keep them in doors or even on your patio to make the pinwheels swirl with the Spring breeze. All you need are just a couple of materials:

  • a miniature ceramic pot,
  • some Styrofoam, fake grass/ moss, your preferred ribbon,
  • a hot glue gun and PINWHEELS!!!

    *Please supervise your children with the hot glue gun, the tip gets very hot and can burn the child.*

Connect with Your Neighborhood

If you are looking for something bigger, with less risk of experiencing burnt fingertips from a hot glue gun, try taking a walk around the neighborhood with some pinwheels. We love the idea of ordering in BULK, getting out into the neighborhood or your building to drop a handful of pinwheels on your neighbor’s doorstep.

Step One: Get a wagon or bag to carry your pinwheels and take a short walk leaving a few pinwheels on each doorstep. PROTIP Leave a little card to let folks know you care and make a new friend!

Step Two: Put the leftover pinwheels in your front yard for FREE pickup and post on Nextdoor letting folks know that the pinwheels represent the bright future we all want for the kiddos in the community.

Step Three: Put your pinwheels in your front yard for everyone to see. You can add these pinwheels wherever you prefer, but we love the look of using the empty planter to symbolize that we are growing a better tomorrow for all children, together. The only thing you will need is a bigger ceramic or plastic pot. Fill up the pot with your year round soil and of course we cannot forget the pinwheels!

Step Four: Walk the neighborhood a few days later to see how many of your neighbors followed your lead p[anting their pinwheels in their front yards! It’s a sweet way to connect during these socially distant times.

    Masks up with a Pinwheel

    Who wouldn’t want to wear a pinwheel on your mask? The whole family can rock their own pinwheel mask. The materials you will need is just blue fabric, needle and thread. The video featured on the inspiration center shows you step by step instructions for creating a full cotton mask or if you just want to add a little pinwheel to another mask, we will show you that too! **CDC guidelines recommend to wear a mask in any public establishment indoor or outdoor. For more information please visit cdc.gov/coronavirus/**

    Enter the #GrowingBetterTogether Photo Contest

    Don’t wait to highlight the DIY way you’re promoting prevention this month by entering the #GrowingBetterTogether photo contest and VOTE for your favorite photo. 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 a $1000, 300 or $200 mini grant! 

    Special thanks to Colorado Child Welfare Scholars Consortium for helping To make this photo contest possible!

    Visit the Inspiration Center to find out how others are using their pinwheels to promote prevention and follow #GrowingBetterTogether to connect to the movement in your neighboorhood.  

    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.

    Colorado Elected Officials Show Support for Growing Better Together

    Colorado Elected Officials Show Support for Growing Better Together

    Efforts to raise awareness for the prevention of child abuse began with a strong start today as thousands across the country joined together to wear blue in support of positive childhood experiences. Video messages from elected officials sharing their public support for building protective factors in our every day lives, as well as policy have also started to pour in. Many Colorado legislators joined the collective efforts throughout Colorado by helping to create the short PSA below to launch this month’s public awareness campaign “Growing a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together”. Rep. Judy Amabile also shared a moving tribute on the floor of the Colorado House of Representatives today, recorded below.

    These are the legislators who’ve spoken out in support of the campaign so far:

    Rep. Judy Amabile,
    House District 13

    Rep. Leslie Herod,
    House District 08

    Rep. Yadira Caraveo
    House District 31

    Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez
    House District 04

    Rep. Colin Larson
    House District 22

    Sen. Chris Hansen
    Senate District 31

    Sen. Don Coram
    Senate District 06

    Sen. Joann Ginal
    Senate District 14

     

    Sen. Brittany Pettersen
    Senate District 22

    Sen. Rhonda Fields 
    Senate District 29

    Look for additional messages from local county commissioners, city officials, as well as more Colorado legislators, with the hastag #GrowingBetterTogether​ as the month rolls on. 

    As the Colorado Chapter for Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA America), Illuminate Colorado has already given away more than 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.

    Illuminate Colorado was also proud to join the Colorado Department Governor Jared Polis and Michelle Barnes, executive director of the Colorado Department of Human Services for a virtual launch of Child Abuse Prevention Month featuring four Colorado families sharing stories of parental resilience while parenting in the pandemic.

    “COVID-19 has added stressors for parents and caregivers, requiring them to adjust to new norms while staying strong in the face of stress. Families are building and maintaining positive relationships with people they can call on for help and need access to the resources they need in order to thrive,” said Barnes.

    “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.

    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.

     

     

    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. 

    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.  

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

    • 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.

    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

    "

    Subscribe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Contact Us

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

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