New Kid on the Block: Caramel Expands Illuminating Child Care to Pueblo and Fremont Counties

New Kid on the Block: Caramel Expands Illuminating Child Care to Pueblo and Fremont Counties

Caramel, Illuminating Child Care’s newest member of the fleet, was introduced to the Pueblo community at an open house on April 14th. Members of the community and local media toured the new classroom, learned more about the program and saw how the on-site classroom operates. Another open house is scheduled in Fremont County.

Media Coverage of the Pueblo Open House

Before a parent can begin to address any complex issue impacting their family, like mental health concerns, substance use disorders, or employment challenges, they are too often faced, first, with struggling to find child care.

That’s why Illuminate Colorado has partnered with Children First/Pueblo Early Childhood Council to expand the Illuminating Child Care program. Caramel, the newest classroom in the Illuminating Child Care fleet, is increasing access to child care for parents and caregivers navigating complex life situations in Pueblo and Fremont counties.

“We can support parents in… really being able to be present and well for their kiddos, then we can support children in building all of those brain connections that we know happens in early childhood. So that’s how this is really contributing to school readiness and long-term educational success for kiddos,” Jade Woodard, Executive Director of Illuminate Colorado, told Fox 21 News.

“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.”

Karie, one of several parents who’ve depended on Illuminating Child Care

According to Angie Shehorn, Director of Children First/Pueblo Early Childhood Council, Caramel will officially begin services in late April or early May. “We have a schedule worked out… where we are out at facilities every single day, Monday through Friday,” she told The Pueblo Chieftain.

Getting this child care classroom ready to serve young children means we need your help!

Illuminate is hosting an online baby shower to help stock Caramel with all the items child care teachers need to help young children learn and grow while providing drop-in care on-site where parents are getting the support they need to strengthen their families.

The registry for Caremel is set up through Lakeshore Learning Materials.

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How to Help Your Picky Eater

How to Help Your Picky Eater

Most parents struggle with feeding their kids at some point in their lives. Eating is one of the most basic functions, so why is it so hard? There are many reasons a child might not like a specific food — the texture, what it looks like, the smell, or the child could be anxious about the sensory experience, so they refuse even to try it. Whatever the reason, there are ways to make this experience less stressful for everyone. 

I am a pediatric therapist and co-founder of Kinspire, a pediatric support platform that provides occupational therapy through a convenient telehealth experience. I often help families who struggle with picky eaters. Most picky eater caregivers dread mealtime because they know there will be struggles around food. Mealtimes should be an opportunity to connect with your family, not a time of stress. I’m excited to share a few of my favorite tips on how to support your child during mealtimes so the entire family can get back to a stress-free meal. 

Tips to Ease Mealtime Stress With Your Picky Eater

Introduce new foods alongside favorite foods.

Do not force your child to try a new food. Continue to present it in small portions alongside favorite foods to increase the likelihood of your child interacting with it. 

Select three goal foods.

Make a list of your child’s preferred foods. These foods will help you determine new foods to introduce – you want to select new foods that are similar to your child’s preferred foods, but different in some ways. Introduce the goal foods one at a time. 

Use “I wonder” statements to encourage your child to try new foods.

“I wonder if that’s crunchy like your pretzels,” or “I wonder if it tastes sweet or salty.”

Take the pressure off your child.

If your child doesn’t want to interact with a food, say, “OK, I guess you’re not ready to eat that yet.” Adding yet to this statement leaves the possibility open for the future while making them more comfortable during mealtime.

Get them involved in food prep.

Helping in the kitchen makes your child an active participant and gives them a sense of control from the start.

Encourage them to explore food through smell, touch or trying it in small bites.

If your child smells a new food, that is a win! Encourage them to touch and smell the food if they aren’t ready to taste it yet. 

Give them some control over their food choices.

A food menu works great for this — give your child food options and let them fill out the weekly menu. When the child feels like they have some control over their food, they know what to expect and are more willing to try it. 

Manage your expectations.

It’s hard to put so much time and effort into feeding your child. Don’t expect any one tip to be the answer; this process can take time, but your patience will pay off. 

2022 Pinwheels for Prevention® Sponsor

Special Thanks to Kinspire for growing a better tomorrow for all children, together.

Speaking from personal experience with my youngest girl, being a parent to a picky eater can be overwhelming at times. If you’re looking for support for your picky eater, Kinspire can help you. 

Kinspire offers children and their families occupational therapy in the most flexible and convenient way that fits into anyone’s schedule. Kinspire’s platform empowers parents to support their children on a daily basis via a dedicated occupational therapist, on-demand telehealth services, and a self-service technology experience. Kinspire therapists work with families to develop a collaborative Family Action Plan tailored to their child’s needs and parents can reach out to their dedicated therapist whenever they need help or have questions.

No more wait lists or scheduling challenges— you can get help now at your convenience with Kinspire. Schedule a free consultation at www.kinspirehealth.com to get matched with a licensed therapist who will guide and teach you how to support your family so you can get back to stress-free meals.

About the Author

About the Author

Lily Baiser is a parent and highly experienced pediatric occupational therapist (OT). She holds a certification in sensory integration theory and practice, and has advanced training in multiple interventions. She also serves as the chief clinical officer and co-founder of Kinspire, a pediatric support platform that provides occupational therapy through telehealth to best support the developmental needs of children and their families.

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One Father’s Journey Through Parenthood with Community Resources

One Father’s Journey Through Parenthood with Community Resources

I never thought I would ever become homeless until it happened. A number of events led me to a point in my life where I needed to find a temporary home so that I could start working to rebuild my life from the ground up and continue to support my basic needs and be there for my son. I want to share and highlight a few community support programs that have had a big impact on my life and that of my son’s because I know that it is so important to breakdown the stigma of getting support as a parent. But first, I want to tell you about my son.

I am a father to a 9 year-old boy who has has the funniest sense of humor. He has this awesome joy inside of him that marvels over the simplest things, like a dollar store toy, a plastic device that makes snowballs or even a pack of gum. And, through his wonderment of these things he teaches me that life doesn’t have to be so complex and I too can enjoy the simple moments. My son and I have an amazingly strong relationship built on trust, love and the ability to learn and grow…together. I am honored and privileged to be a father.

But, parenting isn’t always easy. There’s no book to follow on how to be a perfect parent and it can be difficult at times. The good news is there’s so many resources in all of our communities that are reaching out to us to provide services, programs and support as we navigate our parental journey. These are just a few of the community organizations that have made an impact on my family in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Springs Rescue Mission

It was late in the year and it started to get cold outside. I had exhausted all other resources and had to find housing very quickly. As I entered the shelter at Springs Rescue Mission for the very first time, I was greeted with open arms and care. Immediately, I had a bed and began to learn what resources were available to me.

The caregivers at Springs Rescue Mission were amazing at connecting me to everything I needed. I had some medical issues and was put into contact with a doctor within days. I was shown where to get food at a number of locations. As you might imagine, my stress and anxiety levels were high and I was quickly connected to a provider to manage my mental health. When it came to generating income, Springs Rescue Mission was able to provide me with electricity and internet access so that I could continue to support the remote clients that I had. They also had jobs posted every week and clinics available for resume building and interviewing skills.

When times were difficult, I could reach out and talk to any of the shelter employees and they listened to me as we talked through issues that affected me as a parent. I can’t thank Springs Rescue Mission enough for supporting my basic needs, connecting me to all the resources I needed, and for helping me get back on my feet. This is just one shelter among many that provide a roof, food, and hands to help guide us back upwards.

Circle of Parents

The Circle of Parents® in Colorado is an online and in-person weekly meeting where parents come together, share thoughts, ideas and problems. In return, those in the group receive advice and resources to help make parenting a little easier. It’s a collection of parents needing help and through the bonds that are built… grow stronger, together. You learn very quickly in groups like these that you are never alone and help is just an email, text or phone call away.

For me, each week connects me to other fathers that are knowledgeable about local parent/child events and educational opportunities like parenting books, articles, or websites. It’s a safe place to share challenges and success stories and bond with other fathers.

Center on Fathering

Although there are many more organizations I could share, I do want to mention just one more; the Center on Fathering which has been a bedrock of support to strengthen our role as parents through parenting classes, support groups and access to educational materials.

I reached out to community organizations for help and it’s made me a better parent. If I can leave you with just one message today, it would be this…  it’s OK for parents to ask for support. We all need it. We all need to connect with one another—as parents—to share the information, resources, tips and tricks that we learn along the way.

Build Concrete Support in Times of Need

When families are connected and have access to concrete supports in their community that help minimize stress caused by challenges, we strengthen the foundation for families and communities to thrive. ​This is what child abuse prevention looks like in my life. Together, we can become the best parents we can be. For fathers, it feels especially difficult for us to reach out to one another to connect as parents and get support. This is the pledge I make to myself, to continue to connect and I’m sharing my story to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together. 

Dave Ehlert

Dave Ehlert

Dave is a proud father to his nine year-old son living in Colorado Springs. He has a deep understanding of what needs to happen at a community level in order to transform systems so that families get the preventative support they need, having experienced homelessness and spends his time helping other fathers make progress in their lives in order to attain greater fulfillment.

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Colorado Substance Exposed Newborn Effort Name Change: Introducing SuPPoRT Colorado

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Our collaborative effort has a new name! Moving forward, the groups that were previously referred to as the Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns (SEN) Steering Committee, Family Advisory Board, and associated Work/Advisory Groups will be collectively known as Supporting Perinatal substance use Prevention, Recovery, and Treatment in Colorado (SuPPoRT Colorado). SuPPoRT Colorado will continue to work toward the same vision of a Colorado that equitably serves all families through prevention and reduction of substance use during pregnancy and provides multigenerational support for families to thrive, under a name that more accurately reflects our mission, values, and the work we do.

Aligning Our Name with Our Mission and Values

Hear from Family Advisory Board and Steering Committee members in their own words why they chose to make this name change:

The name change is important because it has a supportive person center description. I think it is important to keep the recovery from SUD during pregnancy in the title too so that it is also focused on the solution.”

Ashley Miller

Family Advisory Board member

“The new name, SuPPoRT Colorado: Supporting Perinatal substance use Prevention, Recovery, and Treatment in Colorado, is now inclusive of those who are affected by perinatal substance use throughout their entire lives. Effects of fetal alcohol exposure often require lifelong supports.”

Marilyn Fausset

Parent advocate, FASD Work Group Co-chair & Steering Committee member

“I really appreciate that the new name “SuPPoRT Colorado” shifts the focus from the newborn’s exposure to the support provided to both the newborn and the parent(s) related to prevention, treatment and recovery.”

Deborah Monaghan, MD, MSPH

Medical Director at Office of Children, Youth and Families-CDHS, Steering Committee member

“The name change reflects our commitment to learning with and from families, providers, researchers, and advocates. The new name better embraces our commitment to data-informed action that is family-led and community-based.”

Courtney L. Everson, PhD

Senior Researcher/Project Director at Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab, Data & Research Advisory Group Co-chair & Steering Committee member

“As our work has continued to evolve over the last 14 years, it only seems fitting that our language evolves too. Our new name “SuPPoRT Colorado” better reflects our continued commitment to families across the lifespan.”

Jade Woodard, MPA

Executive Director of Illuminate Colorado, founding Steering Committee Co-chair

“Rising to meet the current needs and opportunities in our state has been core to our collaborative work since the very beginning, and I’m looking forward to the impact we’ll have in this next phase as “SuPPoRT Colorado.”

Kathi Wells, MD, FAAP

Executive Director of the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse & Neglect, founding Steering Committee Co-chair

The Steering Committee was originally established in 2008 and is a subcommittee of the Colorado Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force. In 2019, the Family Advisory Board (FAB) to the Steering Committee was formed in order to elevate the voices of families who have experienced, directly or indirectly, the impacts of substance use during pregnancy. A reflection of the shared leadership of the Steering Committee and FAB, changing our initiative’s name to  SuPPoRT Colorado marks an exciting new chapter in our ongoing collaborative efforts to identify and implement strategies for reducing the number of families impacted by substance use during pregnancy and for improving outcomes for families across the lifespan.  

Beginning in April of 2021, the Steering Committee and FAB began a process to revisit our language and explore a name change to better align our name with our shared mission and values. Over the last year, the FAB and Steering Committee engaged in a process to identify ideas and ultimately choose our new name. Along the way, small ad-hoc groups of Steering Committee and Family Advisory Board members led the thinking with multiple opportunities for members across the effort to weigh in. We’re so grateful and excited to officially launch our new name and logo that was crafted with the input of so many dedicated partners.

Visit the SuPPoRT Colorado webpage to learn more about our history, vision, and mission,  click here to learn more about the current work, and sign up to join the effort here!

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I am sitting here watching my son play with his friend thinking about all of the things that have blown up this week all while smiling for him. Let’s be honest, there are times when this parenting thing is just hard. Like when you get to the point where you are not sure whether you’re going left or right. Organizing rides to practices, planning meals, working and trying to find 30 minutes to get to the store to get my favorite face wash. Every decision feels wrong and everything seems to be going wrong. What do I do when I feel like this? Sometimes I go behind closed doors and cry then put some makeup on my red nose, throw on my Nikes and get back to it. Other days I don’t hide it from my kids. I let them see the struggles, the frustration and the tears. 

Which one is right? I could argue both. I don’t want them to see me cry or cause them to worry about anything that’s my job as their mom. They are just kids and have enough adult life to worry and stress them out. However, if they see how hard I fight they can gain more appreciation for what they have and what I do for them. The life we live doesn’t come easy. No matter how I respond I beat myself up. I have painted a picture of me being superwoman to the world and now that’s the picture that I see of myself. No room for error even when things are tough. 

I have read article after article about ways to cope when you’re stressed or how to give yourself grace and even how to parent under pressure. When I read those articles I then think, how can I get to the point where I am as put together as those moms? Which either motivates me or makes me feel defeated. 

Ways I Find Peace in the Chaos

So what’s the moral to the story? Finding peace in the chaos looks different for everyone, and that’s ok. It looks different for me every day, and that’s ok too.

I remind myself a few ways:

  • I put sticky notes on my mirrors with positive quotes.

I take time to write down life’s little blessings and put them in a vase to read when things get hard.

Reading those really helps put things into perspective. 

    I call my mom friends and complain about the chaos and then brag about the wins.

    I have found my one release from the world in coaching basketball. Nothing matters to me when I am on the court.

    Building Parental Resilience Is Growing a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together

    This is what parental resilience looks like for me and it’s built by learning healthy coping skills and strategies to manage your stress and function as well as you can when faced with challenges, adversity and trauma.​ Researchers at The Center for the Study of Social Policy have found that parental resilience is among the five Protective Factors that, when present in families’ lives, have the power to reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect and when I think about that, it makes complete sense to me. 

    When I’m not taking care of myself or managing my stress, I know I don’t show up for my kids the way I want to. But, who among us has not felt a little short-tempered, yelled or not been your best-self at moments in front of your kids. Everyone needs to practice self-care, especially parents. 

    Take the time to do little things that bring you calm during the storm. While I complain about the articles saying give yourself grace, it’s so true! I have to constantly remind myself that parenting is not for the weak, so we use the tools we have to make the best decisions we can to strengthen our families and ourselves. This is the pledge I make to myself and I’m sharing my story to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together. 

    Makita Cotto

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    Makita is a proud mother of three, human resources manager and high school basketball coach sharing her lived experiences so that children and families can grow and thrive together. She has a deep understanding of what needs to happen at a community level in order to transform systems so that families get the preventative support they need, having experienced the foster care system as a child.

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    Parents’ Stories a Focus of the Campaign to Grow a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together

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    Nearly one hundred people gathered on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol to promote positive childhood experiences and listen to parents share their experiences in recognition of child abuse prevention month. The event is the first of many activities happening throughout the nation, and Colorado, as part of the month-long Pinwheels for Prevention® campaign to Grow a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together.  

    “Every one of the more than 1.2 million children in Colorado today deserve to be valued, healthy and thriving, including the children in my community. And, every day, we each help positive childhood experiences take root,” said Beverley Besha Moore, emcee for the event and board member of Illuminate Colorado (Illuminate), the statewide nonprofit organizing this annual grassroots effort to raise awareness during child abuse prevention month. As the Colorado Chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America, the organization leads the national Pinwheels for Prevention® Campaign in Colorado which has grown exponentially over the years, giving away more than 40,000 FREE pinwheels last year as many families were under significant stress doing their best to parent during a pandemic.

    2022 Colorado Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign Launch Event

    Thank you to all the partners, parents and kids that joined us at the Colorado State Capitol! What a great start to Child Abuse Prevention Month!
    VIEW PHOTO ALBUM

    A leading champion for all children in the United States, Prevent Child Abuse America is the nation’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect. Prevent Child Abuse America experts develop innovative, evidence-based prevention strategies, raise public awareness, and advocate for family-friendly policies and programs at the national, state, and local levels to ensure that all children and families get what they need to thrive. “Research shows that positive childhood experiences grow thriving families and communities,” explained Dr. Melissa Merrick, president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America. “This is the moment to build a child and family well-being system that propels families to grow and thrive together. Please consider joining us to ensure safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments are cultivated to enable children, families, and entire communities to succeed – today and for generations to come.” 

    As a mom to seven kids myself, two by adoption and five by birth, I know that no parent can do this alone. All parents need support from their community to raise their kids—it truly does take a village. And while all families need support, some families do experience social, economic and environmental inequities more than others and this explains why children of color experience significant disparities in child well-being.” said Besha Moore. As an African American mother, I’ve experienced first-hand the struggle of wanting to ask for help but being fearful that I would be looked at differently or treated differently because I’m African American. We can all help by proactively calling out inequity and injustice and working to create the conditions for safe, stable and nurturing spaces. All children and families thrive when communities focus on addressing root causes that lead to health and social inequities. We all need to know how to strengthen the family next door.”

    This year, Illuminate is giving away 10 Free pinwheels to anyone interested in getting more involved and asking all Coloradans to pledge to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together. “When parents, caregivers, family, friends, neighbors, employers and elected leaders work together to increase five critical protective factors in families’ lives that is when we can prevent child abuse, strengthen families and build brighter childhoods,” continued Besha Moore.

    Every one of the more than 1.2 million children in Colorado today deserve to be valued, healthy and thriving, including the children in my community. And, every day, we each help positive childhood experiences take root.

    Beverley Besha Moore

    Board Member, Illuminate Colorado

    Conditions in communities where people live, learn, work and play affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes – including child abuse and neglect – a serious problem affecting every segment of our community. The occasion focused on effective community-based solutions including home visiting, homeless shelters, family resource centers and other local community supports that support all families thereby reducing the likelihood of child maltreatment.  In October 2018, I experienced every parents worst nightmare; my three and a half year-old son pasted away. After that tragedy, I was offered a whirlwind of supportive services, counseling, classes, family and friends coming to offer support. Every single one played a part in my healing process. What I found most life-altering was my home visiting program,” shared Alexa Chenoweth, a mother of two girls under the age of four from Rifle, Colorado. 

    Another father opened up about his journey through parenthood having experienced homelessness. “I never thought I would ever become homeless until it happened. A number of events led me to a point in my life where I needed to find a temporary home so that I could start working to rebuild my life from the ground up and continue to support my basic needs and be there for my son,” said Dave Ehlert the Colorado Springs father of a nine year-old boy.  “Parenting isn’t always easy. There’s no book to follow on how to be a perfect parent and it can be difficult at times. The good news is there’s so many resources in all of our communities that are reaching out to us to provide services, programs and support as we navigate our parental journey.”

     

    In addition to the more than 50 campaign partners displaying pinwheels in April as a show of support for the prevention of child maltreatment, promoting the campaign messaging on social media using #GrowingBetterTogether, and encouraging Coloradans to take part in the campaign; campaign sponsors including the presenting sponsor SafeCare Colorado of Colorado’s Office of Early Childhood, and organizing sponsor Colorado’s Office of Children, Youth & Families and media sponsor Colorado Parent, also supported the event.

    As added incentive to make a commitment to strengthening families this month, one person who takes the pledge to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together will be selected at the end of the month to win an opportunity to choose a Colorado nonprofit, school or child care organization to receive a $2,500 grant, thanks in large part to the campaign sponsor Colorado Child Welfare Scholars Consortium, part of a statewide effort to invest in the education of selected students in order to attract qualified social work professionals into the field of public child welfare services in Colorado.  For more ways you can to strengthen families and take the pledge to Grow a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together and learn more about child abuse and neglect prevention and activities happening around the state all-month long, visit COPinwheelsForPrevention.org

    Following a message from Governor Jared Polis, Minna Castillo Cohen, director of the Office of Children, Youth and Families, and Mary Alice Cohen, director of the Office of Early Childhood from the Colorado Department of Human Services addressed the crowd to thank the thousands of professionals, parents and caregivers who have strengthen families throughout the pandemic. “I’ve seen amazing collaboration happen with partners across the state throughout this pandemic to take care of families in their communities and ensure they have what they need to be successful and help their kids grow up healthy, strong and ready for school,” said Castillo Cohen. “We know that when families are connected and have access to concrete support in their communities, child maltreatment can be prevented. It truly takes all of us to ensure every child has the opportunity to thrive.”

    “The last two years have been so challenging for children and their families. I know many of you have first hand experience with this,” shared Cohen. “Our routines and our support systems were changed abruptly. In the Office of Early Childhood we were heartened to see the creativity and resilience all of our partners showed to ensure the youngest Coloradans continued to thrive; yet we also recognized the significant needs families faced, and continue to face.”

    The event ended on a heartfelt note with Besha Moore share a personal story after reflection on the work going on inside the Capitol. “You see, I was a teen mom. When he was just three and half years old. At that time, I was handling the financial struggles of being a single mom. I found myself in a position when I was wondering do I purchase diapers or purchase sanitary items that I needed. And of course, the diapers won. So I swallowed my pride and I did whatever was needed. But, just imagine if there was such a thing as not having a tax on diapers back then,” shared Besha Moore referencing a bill Colorado lawmakers are working on this legislative session to make essential items, like period products and diapers, more affordable.  “That definitely could have helped me. And If I had really felt confident about these wonderful services that we have here in Colorado, if those things were made available to me, I definitely would have taken them.” 

    Growing a Better Tomorrow for All Children, Together

    Every one of the more than 1.2 million children in Colorado today deserve to be valued, healthy and thriving, including the children in your community.

    Take the pledge to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together. 

    Show your support for strengthening families in Colorado and take the pledge to build protective factors and prevent child abuse in your community.

    Get Your 10 FREE Pinwheels

    Illuminate Colorado, a statewide nonprofit working to strengthen families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment, is giving away 10 FREE Pinwheels for Prevention® to Coloradans to inspire our communities to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together.

    >>Interested in getting more involved or sharing your lived experiences?

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