Now is the Time to Talk to Your Clients about Child Care

Now is the Time to Talk to Your Clients about Child Care

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

Step Two - Talk about Safe Storage and Choosing a Safe Caregiver with No Judgement and Encourage Parents to Visit

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, 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. 

If We Only Focus On The Negative, We Are Missing Half The Story

If We Only Focus On The Negative, We Are Missing Half The Story


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. 


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:

  1. Did you have at least one caregiver with whom you felt safe?
  2. Did you have at least one good friend? 
  3. Did you have beliefs that gave you comfort?
  4. Did you like school?
  5. Did you have at least one teacher who cared about you?
  6. Did you have good neighbors?
  7. Was there an adult (not a parent/caregiver or the person from #1) who could provide you with support or advice?
  8. Did you have opportunities to have a good time?
  9. Did you like yourself or feel comfortable with yourself?
  10. 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. 

(1) CDC

(2) Benevolent Childhood Experiences (BCEs) Scale, © Narayan, Rivera, Ghosh Ippen, & Lieberman, 2015© 

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