Reflecting on a Year of Supporting Colorado Families Affected by Substance Use During Pregnancy

Reflecting on a Year of Supporting Colorado Families Affected by Substance Use During Pregnancy

What a 2021 we had in our collaborative efforts to move towards a Colorado that equitably serves all families through prevention and reduction of substance use during pregnancy and provides multigenerational support for families to thrive! We wish you rest and rejuvenation as the year draws to an end. 

Everyone who contributed to our work this year–whether as a work group co-chair, work group member, or another kind of project collaborator–brought their unique perspectives and commitment to supporting Colorado families. As many of our members shared in our recent member feedback survey, compared to going it alone, we are more effective in achieving our goals together.

About the Substance Exposed Newborns (SEN) Steering Committee

The Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns (SEN) Steering Committee was established in 2008 and is a subcommittee of the Colorado Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force.

The Colorado SEN Steering Committee is tasked with identifying and implementing strategies for reducing the number of families impacted by substance use during pregnancy and for improving outcomes for families across the lifespan.

The priorities, strategies and activities of the SEN Steering Committee are guided by family voice experiences and leadership. Strategic planning, activity engagement and impact are each data-informed.

Reflecting on Progress We’ve Made in 2021

With the calendar year coming to a close, we wanted to reflect on some of our shared achievements in 2021:

    • Family Advisory Board and Steering Committee jointly developed Opioid Settlement Fund recommendations, which were presented to the Attorney General and Colorado Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force. We also began to explore a name change to better reflect our vision and values. The Family Advisory Board is also recruiting new members!
    • Data and Research Advisory Group provided recommendations for the Colorado Perinatal Substance Use Data Linkage Project and launched the design of a perinatal substance use data snapshot and outcomes dashboard.
    • FASD Awareness Work Group published a list of Colorado Providers Equipped to Diagnose Under the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Umbrella and conducted outreach to statewide organizations and networks of family-serving professionals in order to increase awareness of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and offer the list of providers as a resource to share with families.
    • Plans of Safe Care Work Group updated the Colorado Plan of Safe Care document to reflect the newest evidence-informed best practices.
    • Policy Analysis Work Group developed a working draft of best practice organizational policy guidance around toxicology testing.
    • Provider Education Work Group developed and hosted an educational series on trauma-informed communication and care.
    • Lastly, in 2021 we launched our webpage–including information about our priorities, a subscription form, and a public calendar. Finally having an online presence feels like a milestone!

What’s on the horizon?

We look forward to what’s to come in 2022, including hiring a strategic initiatives manager focused on behavioral health systems who will support our efforts, and choosing a new name for our collective work. Onwards!

About the Authors

Diane Smith is a mother of three, a parent partner with Denver Parent Advocates Lending Support (DPALS) and chair of the Family Advisory Board to the SEN Steering Committee.

Dr. Kathi Wells, is executive director of the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect and co-chair of the SEN Steering Committee.

Jade Woodard is the executive director of Illuminate Colorado and co-chair of the SEN Steering Committee. 

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NEW Trauma-Informed Communication and Care Provider Education Series

NEW Trauma-Informed Communication and Care Provider Education Series

“We regularly hear from our colleagues that they recognize the importance of taking a trauma-informed approach to patient care, but very few have had the opportunity to receive formal training on trauma-informed care and communication,” said Dr. Laurie Halmo, pediatrician and toxicologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado and co-chair of the Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns Steering Committee work group focused on expanding healthcare provider education resources related to substance use and pregnancy with an emphasis on family leadership and addressing implicit bias. 

Designed by Healthcare Providers, for Healthcare Providers

Now, thanks to Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns Steering Committee Provider Education Work Group and the Colorado Perinatal Care Quality Collaborative, a NEW Trauma-Informed Communication and Care Provider Educational Series designed by healthcare providers, for healthcare providers, is available beginning next Monday. Each session grounded in the perspective of someone with lived experience related to substance use and pregnancy underscores just why this topic is so important.

Anyone who interacts with perinatal patients and their families in a clinical setting, from gynecologists, obstetricians, neonatologists, and pediatricians, to mental/behavioral healthcare providers and social workers, are encouraged to attend. Clinical professionals will walk away with the knowledge and tools to care for individuals in the perinatal period and those who are impacted by substance use in a trauma-informed way that leads to better experiences and outcomes for all. 

NEW Trauma-Informed Communication and Care Provider Education Series 

The educational series includes:

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an overview of the impact of trauma on women’s health, mental health, substance use, and experiences with obstetrical care

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effective trauma-related screening questions and practical provider and team approaches to improve communication and trauma-informed care in obstetrical settings

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practical tools for recognizing and reducing stigma and bias in interactions with patients

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practical tools for optimizing brief clinical interactions with individuals impacted by perinatal substance use in a trauma-informed, non-stigmatizing way, including motivational interviewing, attending skills, and the LEAP (Listen, Empathize, Agree, Partner) approach

Has your family been impacted by substance use during pregnancy?

Has your family been impacted by substance use during pregnancy?

If the answer to this question is yes, then there is an opportunity waiting for you to channel your experiences into change. Several spots on the Family Advisory Board are opening up in 2022. Your perspective is needed to build a Colorado that equitably serves all families through prevention and reduction of substance use during pregnancy and provides multigenerational support for families to thrive. That is the shared vision of the Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns (SEN) Steering Committee, established in 2008. This collaborative space is a subcommittee of the Colorado Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force tasked with identifying and implementing strategies for reducing the number of families impacted by substance use during pregnancy and for improving outcomes for families across the lifespan.

In 2019, the Family Advisory Board (FAB) to the Steering Committee was formed with the purpose of elevating the voices of families who have experienced, directly or indirectly, the impacts of substance use during pregnancy in order to

  • understand barriers in seeking support, health care, including treatment and other services, and
  • inform priority-setting within the Substance Exposed Newborns Steering Committee to raise awareness and best serve the needs of families impacted by substance use.

Anyone who has lived experience around substance use and pregnancy is encouraged to apply by completing the interest form to join this welcoming space to folks who identify as women, non-binary, and/or gender non-conforming. 

WANTED: Family Advisory Board Members

Take the first step by completing the Family Advisory Board Interest Form and we’ll be in touch soon!

A great example of how FAB members are making a difference is in the recently released Opioid Settlement Funds Recommendations jointly developed by Illuminate, the Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns Steering Committee and its Family Advisory Board. In the coming months and years, Colorado will also continue to receive funds from settlements and court rulings resulting from numerous lawsuits against drug companies, distributors and pharmacies over their role in the opioid crisis. It’s money that can — and should — be channeled to programs and services that equitably serve all families through prevention and reduction of substance use during pregnancy and provide multigenerational support for families to thrive.

This set of guidelines and recommendations for for State and local leaders set up a framework for dedicating opioid settlement funds to children and families impacted by perinatal substance use with a focus on building Colorado’s statewide capacity to:

  • align efforts,
  • apply lessons from data, and
  • recognize and respond to emerging needs.

The Steering Committee priorities, strategies and activities, like these recommendations, are guided by family voice experiences and leadership. Strategic planning, activity engagement and impact are each data-informed. The Steering Committee is convening, supporting and guiding the advancement of the four priority areas, with FAB members focusing in on the priority area of reducing stigma around accessing substance use disorder treatment and recovery supports for pregnant and parenting people.

Diane Smith, a mother of three who has a leadership role within this steering committee, as well as the Family Advisory Board, shared her insight in a recent article Family Voice Makes a Difference Illuminating Systemic Change.

“It is important to involve families with lived experiences as voice partners in program improvements and systemic change because it is the best way for our systems to evolve. When people are trying to identify what works, what doesn’t work, and how we change things for the next family, it is important for families to give input and share their experience,” said Smith.

Stepping into an advocacy role like this one can be hard for parents and caregivers and Smith pointed to a strong relationship with Hattie Landry, Illuminate strategic initiatives manager for making her experience a positive one. “It is important for FAB members to feel like they are vetted into the situation and feel comfortable with the group of individuals before they share their story. Hattie makes us feel comfortable, she shows a lot of empathy as a person and colleague,” said Smith. 

This is an amazing opportunity to serve in a role advising big changes and investment related to substance use and pregnancy by taking on the responsibilities of FAB members, including:

  • Encouraging greater understanding of the lived experience of individuals and families impacted by perinatal substance use.
  • Actively participating in establishing strong partnerships with Steering Committee members.
  • Discussing and evaluate practices, programs and services and provide recommendations that respond to the unique needs of families.
  • Channeling needs, concerns and recommendations to the Steering Committee for consideration.
  • Giving input based on your own experience, while recognizing that other members’ experiences may be different from your own.
  • Collaboratively working on projects identified by the FAB, including story-sharing planning and implementation.
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Member Roles & Responsiblities

Download the Family Advisory Board member roles and responsibilities

Join the Family Advisory Board

Take the first step by completing the Family Advisory Board Interest Form and we’ll be in touch this fall.

Connect with Us

Please reach out with questions about this or other opportunities to make a difference by sharing your lived experiences. It matters.

Supporting Families Impacted by Substance Use During Pregnancy

Supporting Families Impacted by Substance Use During Pregnancy

Yesterday evening, Colorado’s Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed SB20-28, the Substance Use Disorder Recovery bill, with a vote of 3-2. This bill does so much to expand substance use disorder recovery services throughout the state. What many may not know is that it will also increase our state’s ability to prevent child maltreatment by including revisions to the child abuse and neglect definitions related to prenatal substance exposure in the Colorado Children’s Code.

“As Colorado considers revising our Children’s Code definitions in Sections 5-7 of the bill, the well-being of children and families must remain a high priority…and we don’t want fear and stigma to prevent parents from accessing the services they need to maintain recovery and strengthen their families.” – Jade Woodard, Executive Director of Illuminate Colorado.

This revised language has been a result of a five year process during which a diverse group of stakeholders labored hard to replace the current definition with consensus language. The revision to the child abuse and neglect definitions work towards shared prosperity for Colorado families by: 

  • Aligning definitions with the state and federal policy landscape
  • Addressing the ways fear and stigma prevent pregnant people from accessing services
  • Ensuring families are assessed holistically
  • Supporting attachment and bonding within the maternal/infant dyad
  • Incorporating shifts in clinical practices for neonatal abstinence syndrome
  • Acknowledging the limitations of toxicology testing related to prenatal substance exposure
  • Accounting for the implications of prenatal substance exposure.

The next step for SB20-28 is a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Stay tuned to our Illuminate Blog for more policy updates as this bill and others continue to move!

Behavioral health supports for high-risk families may get a real boost this legislative session.

Behavioral health supports for high-risk families may get a real boost this legislative session.

Services and policies that help strengthen families, prevent abuse and neglect, aid caregivers struggling with adversity, and promote positive interactions within families and caregivers help kids develop their potential.

It is critical that Colorado meet the needs of pregnant women and new mothers with substance use disorders by helping them get access to what they need to take care of themselves and their families.

This bill helps increase access to great programs like Special Connections, an existing state program that supports high-risk pregnant women with substance use disorders. The program provides a two-generation approach to helping women find a path toward recovery while preventing negative outcomes for Colorado children, such as child welfare involvement and future mental health and substance use disorders.

After months of advocacy work, numerous agencies and advocates showed up on Friday, March 8th to testify in support of the bill and the result was an unanimous vote in favor of HB19-1193 in the House Public Health Care & Human Services!

Special thanks to the bill sponsors for carrying this critical piece of legislation:

Check out Rep. Herod’s live Twitter feed from the hearing to learn why this bill is so important.

You can help make this important investment in behavioral health supports for high-risk Families a reality!

Ask your organization to support HB19-1193 – The organizations supporting this bill are listed on the fact sheet distributed to Colorado legislators. If your organization would like to sign on to support HB19-1193, contact Jillian Adams at jadams@illuminatecolorado.org.

Talk to your elected officials – Email your elected officials and let them know that you support HB19-1193. Click HERE to get your legislator’s contact information.

What’s next for HB19-1193:

      • Passed Unanimously in the House!
      • Upcoming schedule: Wednesday, April 23 – Senate State, Veterans, & Military Affairs 1:30 pm | SCR 357
      • Follow Illuminate Colorado on Twitter to stay updated on the status of the bill.

Testimonials in support of HB19-1193

“We know that child care is a key component in maximizing child safety by ensuring children are cared for in a safe and developmentally appropriate manner that is sensitive to the toxic stress that they have likely experienced.”

— Jade Woodard, Illuminate Colorado, Executive Director.

“Investing in these kinds of programs saves money, in addition to saving lives and saving futures. We believe that expanding the program is important to ensure that in all points in time women have access to the treatment and recovery that they need.”

— Nancy VanDeMark, Mental Health Colorado, Interim President and CEO

“The efficacy around moms receiving care while being able to have their kids with them is very strong among the strongest body of evidence in the behavioral health/substance use research field.

“If you talk to teams who provide these services, you’ll see an incredible commitment in their work. This legislation really renews, extends and deepens that commitment to the folks who are providing such an incredible service.”

— Daniel Darting, Signal Behavioral Health Network, Executive Director

“This bill will keep families together and support healthier kids.”

 

 

 

 

— Commissioner Pelton, Logan County

“Prevention of trauma has to be a priority.”

— Bethany Pray, Colorado Center on Law and Policy, Director of Health Program

“She was engaged with her newborn, she wanted treatment, and we couldn’t get her treatment because it wasn’t available because she wasn’t enrolled in Special Connections before delivering. She was discharged with child welfare, with a safety plan, but she didn’t get the treatment that she needed.”

— Carol Wallman, NNP

“Intensive outpatient treatment is 3 days a week for 3-5 hours a day, so women are limited to employment opportunities, which limits their income, which limits the ability to pay for child care.”

— Michelle Deuto, RN, Lutheran Hospital, Recovery Nurse Advocate

“We must do better by our moms, our babies and communities, and this bill is a step in the right direction.”

— Megan Lyda, Colorado Perinatal Care Quality Collaborative

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Colorado Birthing Hospital Providers Gather to Improve Outcomes for Women and Newborns Impacted by Opioids

Colorado Birthing Hospital Providers Gather to Improve Outcomes for Women and Newborns Impacted by Opioids

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DENVER, COLORADO (January 31, 2019) — Over eighty clinicians from NICUs and Mom and Baby Units and partners from around the state gathered at the Colorado Hospital Substance Exposed Newborns (CHoSEN) Collaborative Winter Forum in Denver on Thursday to share best practices around caring for women and newborns impacted by substance use, especially opioids. The CHoSEN Collaborative is supported by the COPIC Foundation and the Colorado Office of the Attorney General and includes sixteen Colorado birthing hospitals already committed to a set of practice changes as part of a statewide quality improvement initiative. The project is a partnership between the Section of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine; the Colorado Perinatal Care Quality Collaborative (CPCQC); Illuminate Colorado; and the Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns (SEN) Steering Committee.

“We have the opportunity as providers not only to improve our practice while engaging families in the care team but also to improve measurable outcomes for newborns and families impacted by substance use during pregnancy,” said Dr. Susan Hwang, the physician champion of the CHoSEN Collaborative and neonatologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado and University Hospital. Hwang went on to share preliminary results of the CHoSEN Collaborative’s aggregate data demonstrating a drastic decrease in length of hospital stays for opioid-exposed newborns and an increase in prenatal counseling and service referrals for families. “This is just the beginning of how we can improve the experience of opioid-exposed newborns and their families in our state,” said Hwang.

“We know from experience that collaborative action is most effective in achieving healthier outcomes for moms and babies,” shared Jaime Cabrera, executive director of the Colorado Perinatal Care Quality Collaborative (CPCQC). CPCQC is a statewide nonprofit network of hospitals, healthcare facilities, clinicians and public health professionals that improves the health of women and infants through continuous quality improvement.

The day concluded with a look ahead to the policy changes needed to ensure families impacted by opioids during pregnancy get the support they need. “This legislative session we have the chance to expand services to pregnant and postpartum women impacted by substance use in order to keep Colorado families happy and healthy,” said Jade Woodard, executive director of Illuminate Colorado and co-chair of the Colorado SEN Steering Committee. Illuminate Colorado is a statewide organization dedicated to building brighter childhoods through education, advocacy, and family support. “It will take all of us—clinicians, advocates, and most importantly families—to ensure our policies and practices are building systems to strengthen families.”

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Media Contacts:

Katie Facchinello, Director of Communications

Illuminate Colorado

c: 303-246-2062

Kfacchinello@illuminatecolorado.org

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