The 2022 Election Results Are In: How Will Colorado’s Kids and Families Be Impacted?

The 2022 Election Results Are In: How Will Colorado’s Kids and Families Be Impacted?

When we actively participate in our communities, we help to strengthen them. Voting in elections is one of the most important ways that we can actively participate in our communities by making our voices heard about the kind of state and nation that we want for ourselves and each other. With the 2022 election in the books, we are reflecting on what the outcomes mean for Colorado children and families.

As enthusiastic participants in Colorado’s Healthy School Meals for All campaign, we are overjoyed that Coloradans voted to ensure that all of Colorado’s public school students will have access to nutritious meals at school, regardless of their family’s income.

 

 STARTING IN THE 2023-2024 SCHOOL YEAR, ALL COLORADO FAMILIES WILL HAVE ACCESS TO SCHOOL MEALS BECAUSE COLORADANS VOTED ‘YES’ ON PROPOSITION FF!

This program, which will take effect starting in the 2023-2024 school year, will support the development of Protective Factors that are proven to strengthen families and communities and prevent child maltreatment. When kids are well-fed, their physical, mental, and social well-being increase and families are able to build Parental Resilience and Social & Emotional Competence of Children, two of the Protective Factors that support the prevention of child maltreatment and set the foundation for kids and families to thrive.

Benefits of the Healthy School Meals for All Program

  • Students whose families’ income is too high to qualify for existing programs but not high enough to afford school meals will no longer go hungry or incur school lunch debt,
  • Families and school administrations will no longer be burdened by the cost and time it takes to complete and process school lunch program enrollment paperwork, 
  • And students and families will no longer be subjected to the stigma that comes with participating in free or reduced-price lunch programs.

Healthy School Meals for All will also incentivize the purchase of ingredients from local food systems, increasing wages for individuals employed by school meal programs, and providing healthier meal options to students by offering:

  • An option to participate in a local procurement grant program that will provide schools with funds to purchase food from local farms and ranches,
  • An option to participate in a grant program that will enable schools to increase pay for the staff who serve and prepare meals for students, and
  • Funding for equipment and training to provide students with healthier meals.

THANK YOU, COLORADO, FOR VOTING TO PROVIDE HEALTHY SCHOOL MEALS FOR ALL OF OUR STATE’S STUDENTS!

 Follow the campaign on social media to learn more & keep up with next steps! 

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OTHER RESULTS OF THE 2022 ELECTION AND HOW THEY WILL IMPACT KIDS AND FAMILIES?

See below for recaps from some of our partners on other election results that impact Colorado’s children and families, including measures related to affordable housing and income tax rates:

  • Colorado Children’s Campaign
  • The Women’s Foundation of Colorado through a gender, racial, & economic lens.
  • From Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
    • Proposition 123 passed and will provide $300M per year for housing affordability and homelessness resolution across Colorado without raising taxes also passed. 
    • Denver voters overwhelmingly supported Question 2K to allow the city to keep excess revenue from a .25 percent sales-and-use tax approved by voters in 2020 for homelessness resolution.
    • Unfortunately, the news is not all good. Coloradans voted in favor of Proposition 121 to decrease the state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.40%, reducing state funding for critical public services and putting more money in the pockets of very wealthy taxpayers and corporations.
  • Alliance for Early Success– includes insights about election results across the nation.

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Child Abuse and Neglect Expert Staffing (CANES) is Back!

Child Abuse and Neglect Expert Staffing (CANES) is Back!

We are back! Illuminate Colorado is excited to announce that consultation services for caseworkers, known as Child Abuse and Neglect Expert Staffing (CANES), has once again been funded by the Colorado Department of Human Services.

The CANES program utilizes a multidisciplinary team of experts to engage in critical thinking surrounding the dynamics and concerns at play in complex and challenging child abuse and/or neglect cases. CANES may be utilized at no cost to county child protection departments to determine next steps in a complex, challenging, and/or difficult referral, assessment, or case. The CANES program will facilitate the consultations online via Zoom using the Consultation and Information Sharing Framework to organize and analyze available information. By utilizing a diverse team of experts, CANES can ensure that questions are being asked that inspire solution-focused critical thinking and enhance creativity in managing child welfare cases.

 

The CANES program utilizes a multidisciplinary team of experts to engage in critical thinking surrounding the dynamics and concerns at play in complex and challenging child abuse and/or neglect cases.

In each consultation, the child welfare team and invited guests can expect Illuminate to create a space that is timely and responsive to the needs of the requesting agency, featuring a diverse pool of expertise specific to each case. This setting is appropriate for professionals and family participation, and is HIPPA compliant.

Requesting a Consultation

Requesting a consultation is easy, and requires a few moments to complete a short online application, and the approval of a Supervisor. Once the request is approved, Illuminate staff will contact the requesting party and discuss further needs and scheduling parameters. Most consultations can be scheduled in 2-3 weeks, depending on expert availability and the needs of the county. 

Purpose, timelines, and outcomes of consultation will be determined based on the desire of the requesting agency and the specific needs of each case. Consultations are designed to facilitate solution-focused critical thinking to encourage creative and strength-based discussions, considerations and recommendations. The CANES Consultation Team provides consultation services only. Neither Illuminate Colorado, its agents, or employees nor any member of the CANES Consultation Team, is responsible for any recommendations or actions taken/not taken as a result of the consultation or final report.

Complete the Online Application Here

It only takes a few minutes!

For more information, visit https://www.illuminatecolorado.org/canes/, or email Anne Auld at aauld@illuminatecolorado.org 

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Are You Ready to Vote this November to Make Your Voice Heard for Colorado Families?

Are You Ready to Vote this November to Make Your Voice Heard for Colorado Families?

It takes all of us to ensure that families in Colorado have what they need to be well and thrive. This November, make your voice heard about the policies you want in place and the leaders who you want to represent your community. The most important way you can help create a Colorado where all families thrive is by voting in the statewide election.

Elected officials and policies up and down the ballot can impact our daily lives and the well-being of our communities. On November 8th, Colorado will be voting on topics ranging from school funding to substance use, infrastructure to taxation, and housing to wildfire prevention and response. The initiatives and candidates that are on the ballot have the potential to influence programs, policies, and funding that directly affect children, families, and communities.

It Takes All of Us to Ensure that Families in Colorado Have What They Need to Be Well and Thrive.

What is Colorado Voting On?

By voting this year, you can ensure all of Colorado’s kids have access to healthy school meals, weigh in on housing issues, decide who will represent you as governor and in the state and U.S. Senate and House, and more! Find more information about what’s on the table this year by exploring The Colorado Health Foundation’s Local Ballot Measure Tracker and learning about which candidates are running for elected office on Ballotpedia.

Have You Made Your Plan to Vote?

The 2022 General Election is on Tuesday, November 8th.

Voting is our chance to stand up for our families and our communities. We ALL deserve to have our voices heard this election season.

 

Check out Go Vote Colorado to register to vote or ensure your mailing address is current.

You can also find information specific to your county here.

Click Here to Check Out Go Vote Colorado!

Register to vote or ensure your mailing address is current.

Here Are Some Key Dates in Colorado: 

  • Monday, October 17th – Counties began mailing ballots to registered voters. 
  • October 24th-November 8th – Drop boxes are available and polling centers are open.
  • Monday, October 31st – Last day to submit or update a voter registration and still receive a ballot in the mail.
  • Tuesday, November 8th – Election Day! Polls will be open 7am-7pm. In Colorado, you can register to vote and vote in person up to 7pm on Election Day. If you filled your ballot out at home, be sure to turn it in at a dropbox by 7pm!

Voting lets us weigh in on the issues that are most important to us and that will make and keep Colorado a great place to live. Be a role model for your community and vote! 

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Colorado Voters Must Act to Ensure that No Child Goes Hungry

Colorado Voters Must Act to Ensure that No Child Goes Hungry

This November, you can ensure all of Colorado’s kids have access to healthy school meals. Election ballots will begin hitting mailboxes later this month, and at Illuminate, we are thrilled by the inclusion of Proposition FF: Healthy School Meals for All, a measure that would make access to school meals free for all students in Colorado starting in the 2023-2024 school year.

The Healthy School Meals for All Program supports the development of Protective Factors that have been proven to strengthen families and communities and prevent child maltreatment. The program ensures that no student goes hungry during the school day, breaking the stigma that comes with programs that only provide free meals to low-income students. Additionally, the Healthy School Meals for All Program incentivizes the purchase of healthy ingredients from local sources.

Proposition FF: Healthy School Meals for All

 Make access to school meals free for all students in Colorado starting in the 2023-2024 school year.

Weighing in on the Conversation

In September, Illuminate Colorado’s Strategic Initiatives Manager, Cassie Davis, sat down virtually with the Healthy School Meals for Colorado campaign to discuss why Illuminate Colorado supports this critical measure. Watch the recording to learn more about the program’s capacity to strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment.

How Can I Help to Ensure that Colorado Provides Healthy School Meals for All of Its Students?

 

Vote YES on Proposition FF on Colorado’s November ballot 

      • Make sure you’re ready to vote on this November’s ballot! In Colorado, you can REGISTER TO VOTE and vote in person until 7 p.m. on Election Day, November 8th. In order to receive a ballot in the mail, the deadline to register to vote or update your registration is October 31.
      • You can also sign up for BallotTrax – a system promoted by the Colorado Secretary of State that will allow you to track your ballot from sent to accepted. Sign up for BallotTrax here!

Click Here to Register to Vote Now!

If you would like to vote by mail, you must be registered by October 31st!

Spread the word to get others to Vote YES on FF! 

      • Talk to your friends and family about why you support the measure and encourage them to do so as well. 
      • Participate in the Healthy School Meals for All Days of Action to educate voters in your community on the topic and ask them to vote YES. 
        • Training, materials, and support will be provided!

Click Here to Participate in the Healthy School Meals for All Days of Action!

Sign up for canvassing shifts to educate voters in your community about Healthy School Meals for All.

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Flourishing in Times of Change: A Recap of the 2022 Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference

Flourishing in Times of Change: A Recap of the 2022 Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference

As fall steadily moves its way into Colorado, we once again reflect on the opportunity last month to come together in person to celebrate, learn and grow at the 2022 Colorado Strengthening Families and Communities Conference (SCFCC). A huge thank you to the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) and the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) for prioritizing professional and community development by presenting the conference. With their leadership and dedication to Colorado families, this conference exists in collaboration across the family support continuum, from prevention and public health through restoration and child welfare. 

The Road to Pueblo

As was originally planned for 2020, this year we met in Pueblo to broaden attendees’ experiences in a new region of Colorado. With the support of both CDEC and CDHS for 2022, the conference committee began convening in 2021 to strategize and plan for the first in-person SCFCC since 2018.  Representatives from multiple disciplines, including both state departments, worked monthly to bring attendees together in person in a joint collaboration to provide a learning and networking experience to benefit both professionals and those serving in Family Voice roles.

Over the last few years, there has been a shift in how many have approached and engaged in their work and society in general, and it left many professionals, parents and caregivers tired for so many different reasons. The hope that this conference would bring new ideas and new energy sparked the theme of  Flourishing in Times of Change, which was an active and deliberate strategy to meet the needs of professionals and communities to help make our state the best place possible for our children and families.

Focus Areas

Getting to Equitable and Anti-Racist Practice,

Elevating Family and Youth Voice, Supporting Workforce Care,

Collecting and Leveraging Data,

Highlighting the Importance of Male Involvement,

Working Together to Maximize Resources,

Innovation Space,

and Policy.

Illuminate Colorado Executive Director, Jade Woodard, introduces the first keynote speaker of the conference.

At the start of each day, attendees were greeted with a small surprise– notebooks, succulents, and crafts!

Dr. Wendy Ellis, the first keynote speaker of the conference, speaks on the importance of establishing the presence of and access to supports that communities need to thrive as the major factor in building resilience. 

Workshops, Keynote Speakers, and A Little Bit of Glitter

Nearly 600 people attended the conference, which included a diverse and multi-disciplinary group of professionals and Family Voice representatives from all over the state. The committee and Illuminate were dedicated to providing a space where each conference participant would grow in their knowledge of effective child abuse prevention strategies, family support and protective factors that strengthen families through active participation in workshop sessions, networking, dedicated time for well-being, and robust discussions. With attendee evaluations reporting nearly a 96% satisfaction rate, the conference was an overall success in bringing outstanding keynotes speakers, diverse breakout sessions, and time to network and unwind in the Pavilion to professionals and Family Voice representatives.

We want to hear from you!

If you attended the 2022 conference, there’s still time to fill out the Conference Feedback Form and Session Feedback Form.

Speaking of the Pavilion – this year we really focused on the well-being of attendees considering the hardships of the last few years. In the Pavilion, a quiet, serene, and welcoming environment was created to give a dedicated space to creativity, peace, and relaxation. There were crafts and activities available daily, and a feeling of child-like wonder and excitement exuded from the room. I know I have glanced at my conference succulent or glitter jar on more than one occasion and remembered to take a moment to breathe.

Mayra Avina, Senior Manager of Family Support Services at Focus Points Family Resource Center, presents on community care in the workplace with their colleague, David.

Attendees had the opportunity to create their very own glitter jar, as a reminder to let the mind settle during times of stress.

Looking Forward

Thank you again to all who attended, supported, volunteered or in any way participated in this year’s conference. Without your individual and collective contributions, this year would not have been such a success. If you are interested in joining the planning committee for 2024, please contact Justine Von Arb at jvonarb@illuminatecolorado.org. For more information on the 2022 conference, and the upcoming conference in 2024, visit https://scfcconference.org/. The conference app will be available through August 5th, 2023.

As a final farewell to the 2022 conference, perhaps you can put your succulent and glitter jar in eye sight of your desk or work area. Remember, taking care of this plant is a reminder to take care of yourself. The little plant doesn’t need too much care, maybe watering once a month. As it grows, and possibly blossoms one day, know that you are just as important to feed and grow. You are valuable. You are deserving. You are special. Love on your plant, and use it as a reminder to love on yourself as well. And when you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious, shake your jar and give yourself a moment to let your glitter settle. Breathe.

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Reflecting Back and Looking Ahead– Being FASD Aware is a Year-Round Endeavor

Reflecting Back and Looking Ahead– Being FASD Aware is a Year-Round Endeavor

At the beginning of September, we called on you to Show Your Respect This FASD Awareness Month. As the month comes to a close, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on all of the efforts that were made to spread awareness this month and look ahead to all that is still needed to work toward prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) and appropriate support for individuals and families in Colorado who are impacted.

 

A Month in Review: FASD Awareness Month 2022

Illuminate kicked the month off by focusing on FASD during our quarterly Luminary Lift Up session. Sharon Langendoerfer, a member of the SuPPoRT Colorado FASD Awareness Work Group and a retired neonatologist and pediatrician, helped attendees to become FASD aware with a presentation on the basics of FASD. The Work Group’s Chair and fierce FASD advocate, Marilyn Fausset, shared highlights about what the work group has accomplished – including the development of a list of Colorado Providers Equipped to Diagnose Under the FASD Umbrella– and what they are working toward moving forward. 

Susan Shepard Carlson, founder of Proof Alliance and FASD United board member, shared an overview of critical pending federal legislation known as ‘The FASD Respect Act’, which would reauthorize funding for prevention, screening, identification, research, and FASD-informed services, and Illuminate staff member, Cassie Davis, shared what the legislation would mean for Colorado and how to get involved in advocating for it.

Illuminate was thrilled to be able to put a major opportunity to advocate for the FASD Respect Act into action during the FASD United Affiliate Summit in Washington D.C. by meeting with the offices of Colorado representatives Diana DeGette and Joe Neguse and Colorado Senator John Hickenlooper to educate them about FASD and share information about and request their support of the pending legislation. 

Throughout the month, Illuminate was also proud to sponsor and participate in Run FASD, a virtual 5k to raise awareness and funds for FASD.

And it’s not just our organization who knows how important it is to be FASD aware, work to prevent FASDs from occurring, and support those who are impacted by it. Governor Jared Polis signed a proclamation in recognition of FASD Awareness Day, which reaffirms that “the health and well-being of the people of Colorado are enhanced by efforts to educate about, prevent, and support those impacted by FASDs”. 

The Work Does Not End Here

While the official FASD Awareness Month is a wonderful time to place a particular emphasis on FASD, creating awareness and advocating for the prevention of and appropriate support for those impacted by FASD is a year-round endeavor. 

Here are just a few of the ways that we need you to continue to spread awareness and advocate beyond September: 

We are so grateful to all of our partners across Colorado and nationwide who tirelessly advocate for visibility and support for the FASD community, and we look forward to continuing to do so together!

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