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 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 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 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 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 to learn more.

Illuminate Colorado Takes On New Role Supporting Home Visiting in Colorado

Illuminate Colorado Takes On New Role Supporting Home Visiting in Colorado


Denver, CO (March 23, 2021) – Illuminate Colorado (Illuminate) announced the organization has become the state office for Healthy Families America (HFA), Prevent Child Abuse America’s (PCA America) signature home visiting program and one of the leading family support and evidence-based home visiting programs in the United States. 

This expansion of Illuminate programs and services strengthening families, organizations and communities in Colorado means the organization will coordinate communication with HFA sites within the state, serve as a conduit of communication to the national office and provide a voice in Colorado for HFA, while advocating for a continuum of home visiting services in Colorado.

A wide range of studies show that when parents participate in HFA, children are healthier, experience fewer adverse childhood events and demonstrate long-term improvements in school performance.

Dr. Melissa Merrick

President and Chief Executive Officer, Prevent Child Abuse America

“Our organization has a strong history of partnering on national, state and local levels to promote the benefits of home visiting in Colorado. We know that early, nurturing relationships are the foundation for healthy development and essential for children to reach their full potential. As the Colorado Chapter of PCA America, we are excited to take on this new role supporting the local HFA sites here in Colorado,” said Jade Woodard executive director for Illuminate. “Home visiting programs should be a critical component of every community’s plan to prevent child maltreatment. Places where everyone recognizes our shared obligation to help parents be the parents they want to be are societies where children and families thrive,” continued Woodard. 

HFA is a two-generation home visiting model proven to demonstrate powerful outcomes for children, parents and communities. The home visiting model has the highest rating of “well-supported” by Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse, giving states and county human service agencies the ability to pay for HFA services with federal resources made available through the Family First Prevention Services Act

“A wide range of studies show that when parents participate in HFA, children are healthier, experience fewer adverse childhood events and demonstrate long-term improvements in school performance,” said Dr. Melissa Merrick, president and chief executive officer of PCA America, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing child trauma. “Additionally, we see an increase in family functioning and self-sufficiency, as well as broad health and fiscal benefits—these are among the many positive impacts HFA has on communities, and we’re proud to be partnering with Illuminate Colorado to extend home visiting across the state.”

Studies of HFA show parents experience dramatic gains in education, leading to increased family income and tax revenues for the community. Children in families involved in HFA score higher on tests measuring cognitive development and improve academic performance. Healthier birth rates, lower complications, and reductions in child neglect and abuse are also correlated with participation in HFA, with rigorous studies showing a 70% reduction in pregnancy complications and 48% fewer cases of low-weight births. 

Much is being done right now to ultimately ensure home visiting is available to families in all Colorado communities. The Early Childhood Leadership Commission Home Visitation Investment Task Force is working to develop a strategy to scale a home visiting continuum in Colorado. In addition to serving on this task force, Illuminate is proud to support and collaborate through multiple coalitions working to strengthen and advance effective home visiting services across Colorado and prevent infant and maternal mortality. 

There are two community-based organizations currently using the HFA home visiting model in Colorado; Early Childhood Partners Healthy Families Vail Valley (Healthy Families Vail Valley) program serves families in the Eagle River Valley and the Family Visitor Program Healthy Families Aspen to Parachute program (Family Visitor Programs) serves families in that Colorado region. 

“Since Family Visitor Programs brought the Healthy Families America model to Colorado in 2011, we have anticipated the day HFA could be represented by a state office,” said Sandy Swanson, executive director Family Visitor Programs. “Illuminate’s willingness to take on this role will strengthen and expand the model by making it available to all communities in Colorado.” 

“Healthy Families Vail Valley is thrilled to see the HFA model strengthened in Colorado with the development of Illuminate Colorado as our state intermediary, ” said Megan McGee Bonta, manager, of the Healthy Families Vail Valley program. “It will help build a stronger network to serve and build resilience in Colorado families and children and we look forward to continuing to partner with the organization and the incredible work they are doing!”

Related Topics

Home Visiting in Colorado – 

Most parents need people they can call on once in a while when they need a sympathetic listener, advice or concrete supports. Home visitors help parents bring out the best in themselves by tapping into the skills they already possess. Home visiting programs are proven to have positive impacts on children, families and communities.

Contact Us

Learn more about Health Families America in Colorado

RELEASE: One in Five Colorado Parents Say They Have No One to Turn to For Support

RELEASE: One in Five Colorado Parents Say They Have No One to Turn to For Support

 Newest Circle of Parents Group Offers a Way for Military Fathers to Safely Support Each Other

Denver, CO — Having a network of people to turn to when parenting gets stressful is critical to the well-being of children and families, as well as the economic health of Colorado. According to Illuminate Colorado, surveys among parents in Colorado prior to the pandemic highlighted the critical need to increase social connections among people parenting in Colorado. While 50% of Colorado parents think other parents ask for help with parenting, the reality is that only one in five parents in Colorado reported asking for support with parenting and one in five said they have no one to turn to for day to day emotional support with raising children.

“These results raised red flags dating all the way back to 2016, long before the pandemic impacted Coloradans’ lives in so many ways. We know that things didn’t get easier for anyone parenting over the last several months. That is why we are working with parents, schools, libraries, government and community-based organizations and businesses to do more to help parents build their network of support right now,” said Jade Woodard executive director of Illuminate Colorado.

Illuminate Colorado is a statewide nonprofit working to strengthen families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment by growing Circle of Parents® in Colorado. This national, evidence informed model provides a friendly, supportive environment led by parents and other caregivers. Circle groups give anyone in a parenting role a place to openly discuss the successes and challenges of raising children, free from judgement.

People raising children of all ages can find statewide and local circles of parents connecting at Groups have come together based on their location as well as shared experiences, like military service, parenting while in recovery from a substance use disorder and parenting a child with special needs. Others simply want to connect with people in a similar parenting role, like the kinship, grandparenting and fatherhood Circle groups.  

The newest circle to form is led by two military veteran fathers who recognized a void in their community for fathers attempting to figure out how to jump back into parenthood while working to overcome other struggles that often accompany serving abroad. Their group known as Fathers of Freedom will meet online every Tuesday via Zoom beginning November 17th from 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm.

“The biggest reason I started this group was because being a stay at home father who is a combat veteran and has battled a lot of things over the years, at times have begun to feel isolated and withdrawn from the rest of society,” said Adrian Nunez, one of the founding members of the Circle of Parents group Fathers of Freedom, pictured with his two children. “I wanted to create a safe place for other Veteran fathers to meet up, encourage and support each other through the thick and thin of life to really step out of our comfort zones to grow.”

“Parents drive the conversations. We are just building the space to connect. We know that parents with a social network of emotionally supportive friends, family and neighbors find that it is easier to care for their children and themselves. All parents need people they can call on once in a while when they need a sympathetic listener, advice or support. That is why we want to grow Circle of Parents groups all over Colorado,” said Woodard.

Illuminate Colorado offers training, ongoing support and promotion to the 43 Circle groups meeting mostly online right now. There are plans in place to grow to nearly 60 Circle groups throughout Colorado by the end of 2021.

For more information or to speak with parents and caregivers connected through Circle of Parents in Colorado or a prevention expert, please contact Katie Facchinello at 303-246-2062 and

Circle of Parents® support groups offer a safe, friendly, confidential, non- judgmental, supportive environment to share with and learn from other parents. It’s a place where anyone in a parenting role can openly celebrate success, address challenges, find information and resources to support raising children.

RELEASE: San Luis Valley to Benefit From Nearly Half a Million Dollar Federal Investment To Reduce The Number of Babies Experiencing Withdrawal

RELEASE: San Luis Valley to Benefit From Nearly Half a Million Dollar Federal Investment To Reduce The Number of Babies Experiencing Withdrawal


Today, Illuminate Colorado, in partnership with the San Luis Valley Neonatal Task Force, announced the award of a Federal grant totaling nearly $500,000 over three-years to reduce the incidence and impact of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) in rural communities. NAS is a withdrawal syndrome that can occur in newborns exposed to certain substances, including opioids, during pregnancy. The grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will fund work to improve integrated care and care coordination for pregnant people, mothers and women of childbearing age in the San Luis Valley who have or are at risk of a substance use disorder. 

“This is critical funding needed to continue the work of the San Luis Valley Neonatal Task Force in our community. Unlike other regions that may need to build their capacity, we already have a multidisciplinary task force focused on healthy babies for women with substance use disorder. Our communities have critical services including a methadone clinic, a community mental health center and a federally qualified health center, all skilled in treating opioid use disorders,” said Ruth Horn, the co-founder and coordinator of the San Luis Valley Neonatal Task Force. “Yet 2.8% of births in the San Luis Valley have been diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome. We need this support to combine prenatal services and treatment, help women access those services and de-stigmatize treatment for women to decrease the high rate of NAS in our region.” 

Illuminate Colorado, a statewide nonprofit working to strengthen families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment, is partnering with the San Luis Valley Neonatal Task Force, a group comprised of health care, human service providers and community members that have been impacted by substance use, as well as the San Luis Valley Health, Valley-Wide Health Systems, San Luis Valley Area Health Education Center and Early Childhood Council of San Luis Valley to focus on strategies in prevention, treatment and recovery funded through the grant. Colorado’s award is one of 30 awards nationwide from HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy through the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome which totals nearly $15 million. 

In addition to supporting the work of the San Luis Valley Neonatal Task Force, the grant will provide support for Illuminate Colorado to continue to expand a new program – Illuminating Child Care – in the San Luis Valley by partnering with community-based nonprofits, local substance use disorder treatment providers and government agencies in the area to deliver mobile child care onsite where parents are getting the support that they need to strengthen their families.

“We are very excited to deepen our partnerships in the San Luis Valley to ensure community-based solutions supporting families impacted by substance use disorders have the resources they need to make a difference. When families have information and access to available local resources to meet basic needs, we strengthen the foundation for families and communities to thrive,” said Jade Woodard executive director of Illuminate Colorado.


Illuminate Colorado to receive $630,000 Contract For Innovative Child Care Pilot at Addiction Treatment Services Programs

Illuminate Colorado to receive $630,000 Contract For Innovative Child Care Pilot at Addiction Treatment Services Programs

Open Minds reports today, Illuminate Colorado Awarded $430,000 Contract For Addiction Treatment Pilot Program, ultimately the final total contract amount will be just under $630,000.

“We are very excited to continue to advance innovative child care services in Colorado to help reduce barriers and stigma to accessing care for families impacted by substance use disorders. With public and private partnership, Illuminate is hopeful that we will significantly prevent child maltreatment in Colorado, “ said Jade Woodard executive director of Illuminate Colorado.

Child Care.jpg

In addition to the $630,000 provided by the Colorado Department of Human Services, Illuminate has received a $750,000 multi-year grant from the Colorado Health Foundation to pilot this new and innovative type of child care in Colorado with a focus on serving families with children ages 0-5. The three-year mobile child care pilot will begin in 2020 in two regions, serving multiple substance use disorder (SUD) treatment facilities in order to meet the immediate needs of caregivers accessing SUD treatment. Illuminate has plans to expand the pilot by outfitting motor-homes into infant/toddler classrooms to visit treatment centers around the state to provide child care to parents seeking support for substance use disorders.

Read the entire article from Open Minds

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