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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Meet the 2022 Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference Keynote Presenters: Dr. Dwinita Mosby Tyler

Meet the 2022 Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference Keynote Presenters: Dr. Dwinita Mosby Tyler

The Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference is just over one month away, and we are so excited to hear Dr. Dwinita Mosby Tyler’s inspiring keynote presentation about navigating the complexities of equity, inclusion and diversity in uncertain times.

Dr. Mosby Tyler is the founder and chief catalyst of The Equity Project, which creates spaces in organizations for all people to be called into the conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion work and guides them in making a concrete plan to implement strategies to fight for equity.

The Equity Project describes equity as construction work: “It calls for a commitment to deeply evaluate your own systems and determine what in those systems needs to be removed, reimagined or redesigned. In doing this, you create systems where everyone has exactly what they need to thrive in the system.”

As professionals who work with children and families, Dr. Mosby Tyler calls us not just to flourish in times of change, the theme of this year’s conference, but to ensure that everyone can flourish at all times.  

Many of us feel tired, whether from the pandemic, diversity fatigue, social unrest, or any of the numerous day-to-day challenges we face. But, Dr. Mosby Tyler reminds us, equity work requires everyone–even if we are tired, or even if we don’t feel like its our place to get involved.

Dr. Dwinita Mosby Tyler

Dr. Dwinita Mosby Tyler

Founder and Chief Catalyst, The Equity Project

Dr. Dwinita Mosby Tyler specializes in the development and delivery of equity, leadership, diversity, cultural responsiveness, and inclusiveness training programs and strategies. In addition to founding The Equity Project, she is also the founder of The HR Shop, a human resources firm designed to support nonprofits and small organizations. 

 

In her TEDxMileHigh talk, Dr. Mosby Tyler said, “[Equity] is collective work, and it requires everyone to be all in. . . .To win the fight for equity, we all need to speak up, and stand up, and we will all need to do that even when it’s hard, and even when we feel out of place. . . Justice counts on all of us.”

Dr. Mosby Tyler also acknowledges that navigating the complexities of diversity, equity and inclusion is an ongoing process. In an interview with 9News, she recounted that early in her career, she decided to go by “Nita” to sidestep biases that those in corporate America might have based only on hearing her name. For decades, she went by “Nita,” but she decided to use “Dwinita” again in 2019, knowing how much the name meant to her mother. This is just one example of the way she lives out the concept that the fight for equity requires everyone to engage in this work every day–both in our personal lives or our professional lives.

 

What if Black and Native American people stood in front of immigration issues? Or, what if white people led the charge to end racism? Or, what if men led the charge on pay equity for women? Or, what if heterosexual people stood in front of LGBTQ issues? And, what if able-bodied people advocated for people living with disabilites? You know, we can stand up for issues, weigh in, and advocate even when it seems like the issue has nothing to do with us.

Dr. Dwinita Mosby Tyler

Tell Me More About the Keynote Presentation

Dr. Mosby Tyler’s keynote is titled “Equity is our North Star”:

This keynote takes participants on a journey of “deconstructing” the real meaning of equity, inclusivity, and diversity –and how these concepts show up in the workplace. We will explore the ways in which seemingly small decisions in the office can have significant and meaningful impact within an organization. This keynote is designed to inspire and energize participants to leverage their skills as both leaders and colleagues in the journey to create more equitable workplaces.

To hear Dr. Mosby Tyler’s keynote or to attend any of our fantastic breakout sessions, join us September 19-21 in Pueblo, CO.

Hear More from Dr. Mosby Tyler

What if white people led the charge to end racism?

Diversity fatigue is real: people of color are tired of leading the fight. White allies are tired of being told they’re doing it wrong. No wonder we don’t have equity yet! In this inspiring talk, Dr. Dwinita Mosby Tyler explains why we need “unlikely allies” in the fight for justice, and why people who are experiencing inequality first hand must be willing to accept the help.

About the Conference

The Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference is a biennial event and is a joint collaboration across the family support continuum, from prevention and public health through restoration and child welfare. 

Presented in Partnership by:

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Meet the 2022 Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference Keynote Presenters: Dr. Wendy Ellis

Meet the 2022 Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference Keynote Presenters: Dr. Wendy Ellis

The Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference is less than two months away, and we are excited to welcome Dr. Wendy Ellis as one of our engaging keynote presenters.

It is immediately apparent how Dr. Ellis’ work relates to the theme of this year’s conference, Flourishing in Times of Change. Many folks in the family support continuum are familiar with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), which are potentially traumatic experiences that occur in childhood. Dr. Ellis’ work expands on this idea by introducing the concept of Adverse Community Environments, which describe the systemic inequities that lead to ACEs, such as poverty, discrimination, and lack of opportunity, economic mobility and social capital. Addressing these systemic environmental factors can create supports and buffers that help children, families and communities thrive.

One way of visualizing the relationship between ACEs and Adverse Community Environments is through the Pair of ACEs tree (below). In the tree, ACEs are the branches and leaves, representing symptoms of the systemic inequities that result from being planted in the soil of Adverse Community Environments. 

Dr. Wendy Ellis

Dr. Wendy Ellis

Assistant Professor and Director, Center for Community Resilience

Dr. Wendy Ellis is an Assistant Professor in Global Health and the Director of the Center for Community Resilience at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. The Center for Community Resilience seeks to improve the health of communities by enabling cross-sectoral partners to align policy, program and practice to address adverse childhood experiences in the context of adverse community environments.

 

In an interview with Kentucky Educational Television (KET), Dr. Ellis said, “We can’t just focus on the outcomes, those things that we see on the branches and the leaves, without considering the context in which these adversities occur.”

“The differences in the supports and buffers in these children’s environments absolutely inform how they will bounce back from that adversity and be able to thrive.”

Dr. Wendy Ellis

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Ellis’ team has also adapted the tree visualization to make sense of Adverse Community Experiences that have emerged from the “pandemic within the pandemic,” including environmental factors like housing instability, unemployment, lack of paid leave, and lack of access to technology, remote work and education opportunities.

The end goal of Dr. Ellis’ work is not just to identify Adverse Childhood Experiences and Adverse Community Environments, but to create systems change and address long-standing economic, social and health disparities by developing “customized solution[s] to promote resilience in communities by improving access to supports and buffers that help individuals ‘bounce back’ and communities thrive.” This body of work speaks to the idea that we can work to create environments that help all children and families flourish in this ever-changing world.

Tell Me More About the Keynote Presentation

Dr. Ellis’ keynote is titled “Community Resilience: A Framework for Children & Families”:

Dr. Ellis will discuss how to apply a community resilience framework with a public health perspective to address mental and behavioral health. Using the concept of the “Pair of ACEs”—adverse childhood experiences in the context of adverse community environments—Dr. Ellis will share concrete examples of how multiple sectors including housing, public education, law enforcement and criminal justice are collaborating to address many of the antecedents that contribute to maladaptive behaviors, criminality and negative health outcomes. Attendees will learn how to identify key community assets and resources, promote upstream efforts to address social determinants and build community resilience using the Center’s Resilience Tree framing.

To hear Dr. Ellis’ keynote or to attend any of our fantastic breakout sessions, join us September 19-21 in Pueblo, CO.

Hear More from Dr. Ellis

Surviving a Pandemic: Dr. Wendy Ellis

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, protests against racism and police brutality have swept through cities and towns across the country following the death of George Floyd. 

Hosted by Frank Sesno, Healthy You: Surviving a Pandemic is a co-production of the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health and the School of Media and Public Affairs.

Interview with Dr. Wendy Ellis | Healing Childhood Trauma

In this segment from Healing Childhood Trauma: A KET Special Report, host Renee Shaw speaks with Dr. Wendy R. Ellis, director of the Center for Community Resilience at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

About the Conference

The Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference is a biennial event and is a joint collaboration across the family support continuum, from prevention and public health through restoration and child welfare. 

Presented in Partnership by:

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Do You Work with Children and Families? There is a Network Waiting for You.

Do You Work with Children and Families? There is a Network Waiting for You.

Since 2007, Colorado has maintained a commitment to best practices related to the protective factors in communities and families. The Colorado Strengthening Families Network hosts a quarterly online learning community for professionals across sectors in an effort to embed the Protective Factors in the work of child and family serving agencies of all types. 

Colorado Strengthening Families Network

The network is halfway through the year, and we have already had two exciting and impactful meetings, with two to go, as well as the Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference in September. The conference will be the first time in over two years the Network will have the chance to collaborate and socialize together, face to face!

So far this year, the Network has had presentations, and opportunities to collaborate with other family-serving professionals, on grounding in the Protective Factors.

REGISTER TODAY!

Flourishing in Times of Change
September 19-21, 2022
Pueblo, CO

In the 2021 Strengthening Families Network Survey we learned there are many new members of the Network with an interest in better understanding the foundational history of the Protective Factors and how they are being utilized in Colorado. So, we began the year by Gail Mendes and Kathy Kennedy sharing their vast experiences using and embedding the Protective Factors into their work. The large group had time to network and share in small groups how the Protective Factors are present in their local communities.

If you are looking for a refresher on the history of the Network and/or an introduction to the Protective Factors, the recording includes a presentation on both. The recording of February’s network meeting can be found here.

In May, we had a visit from our friends at the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) on new and innovative ways to embed the Protective Factors into practice. Here is the link to view the recording of the presentation which included a discussion of Youth Thrive, an initiative of the Center for the Study of Social Policy. It is the companion framework to Strengthening Families that focuses on older children, adolescents, and young adults (ages 9-26).

Youth Thrive believes that all young people should be valued, loved, and supported to reach their goals. To achieve this, Youth Thrive works with youth-serving systems, community-based organizations, advocates, and other partners across the country. Our shared goal is to improve policies, programs, and practices so that they build on what we know about adolescent development, value young people’s perspectives, and give youth opportunities to succeed. Kaysie Getty and Francie Zimmerman, two staff members from Youth Thrive, shared a brief overview of the Youth Thrive protective factors and a variety of strategies, tools, and resources for partnering with young people to support their healthy development and promote well-being.

The August network meeting is canceled in lieu of the Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference in September. In November, we will reconvene online and discuss takeaways from the conference, and share how we are individually and collectively taking care of ourselves, our coworkers and the families we serve. Self-care is more than a slogan. It is actively taking time to regroup, destress and ensure we are able to show up as the best versions of ourselves in both personal and professional settings. Don’t worry if you didn’t have a chance to attend the conference! There will be tips and techniques you can start incorporating right away. 

We are always happy to welcome new faces, new professions and professionals. And, regardless of what work you do in or out of the home, if this sounds interesting to you, we would love to see you! For more information on attending the remaining meetings, visit our website. For more information on the Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference, visit the conference website

About the Author

About the Author

Anne Auld is the director of education for Illuminate Colorado. Auld has worked with children and families for more than 20 years, training parents, professionals and community members on subjects including strengthening families, safe storage, child sexual abuse prevention and much more.

Meet the 2022 Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference Keynote Presenters: Vu Le

Meet the 2022 Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference Keynote Presenters: Vu Le

This year, we have three excellent keynote presenters lined up for the 2022 Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference, which will take place in Pueblo, CO, September 19-21, 2022. We are excited to welcome Vu Le as one of our engaging keynote presenters. 

Le’s blog, Nonprofit AF, addresses many of the challenges and opportunities facing the nonprofit sector, but it would be a mistake to assume that Le’s message is only for nonprofits. He frequently writes and speaks about work-life balance and self-care–topics that are central to this year’s conference theme, Flourishing in Times of Change.

Many of us who work with children and families, whether directly or indirectly, have experienced the challenge of caring for people during a global pandemic and other crises–both at our jobs and in our personal lives. Le reminds us that we also need to commit to taking time to take care of ourselves. We’re better people and better workers when we do. 

Vu Le

Vu Le

Vu Le (“voo lay”) is a writer, speaker, vegan, Pisces, and the former Executive Director of RVC, a nonprofit in Seattle that promotes social justice by developing leaders of color, strengthening organizations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities.

 

We all need to do a much better job taking care of ourselves. We’ve been sacrificing our health. And it’s been affecting our work. When we are not at our best, our work suffers. We are not as thoughtful. We don’t think things through as we should. We are not able to generate or synthesize solutions as well. We don’t give one another as much grace. We take fewer risks.

Vu Le

This year’s conference will have many opportunities for workers across the family support continuum–from prevention and public health through restoration and child welfare–to take care of themselves and invest in themselves. Beyond being a professional development opportunity with excellent keynote speakers and breakout sessions, this year’s conference will feature dedicated time and space for wellness opportunities like yoga, mindfulness craft and activities, and more.

Tell Me More About the Keynote Presentation

Le’s keynote is titled “Self-Care During the Apocalypse”:

It has been a rough few years. All of us are stretched to capacity. Our work remains vital, but it has been relentless. How do we take care of ourselves and one another and conserve the strength we need to advance a just and equitable world? What philosophies and practices must we unlearn? What are new ones we must adopt? The world needs us, but in order to serve it effectively, we need to prioritize our wellbeing. We will touch on these and other topics in a presentation that will likely include pictures of baby animals. 

About the Conference

The Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference is a biennial event and is a joint collaboration across the family support continuum, from prevention and public health through restoration and child welfare. 

Presented in Partnership by:

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Registration is Open for the 2022 Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference!

Registration is Open for the 2022 Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference!

Illuminate Colorado and the Colorado Department of Human Services are excited to encourage everyone working with children or families in Colorado to register for the Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference!

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we approach and do our work, and the pandemic–not to mention everything else going on in the world–has left many of us tired for so many different reasons. We hope that this conference will bring you new ideas and new energy to bring to life our conference theme, Flourishing in Times of Change.

Join Us in Pueblo!

This year, the conference will be held September 19-21, 2022 in Pueblo, Colorado. Registration is just $50, so don’t wait to register!  

Feel Safe Registering for the Conference

As the conference approaches, conference planners will review local, state and federal guidance related to COVID-19 and take appropriate safety precautions to protect the health and safety of conference attendees. Furthermore, if the conference has to take place virtually, the $50 registration cost will be refunded. 

What Can I Expect at the Conference?

It is our sincerest hope that through active participation in workshop sessions, networking, and robust discussion that each conference participant will grow in their knowledge of effective child abuse prevention strategies and protective factors that strengthen families.

The schedule for this conference is being finalized, but don’t wait to register today to enjoy a great line-up of presenters–and plenty of time and ways for you to focus on your well-being in addition to learning. Throughout the conference, we will be hearing from national and statewide experts with talks focusing on these topic areas:

Getting to Equitable and Anti-Racist Practice

We are committed to developing and implementing anti-racist and anti-discrimination practices. How do we actively prioritize anti-racism and anti-discrimination in our relationships, communities, workplaces and systems? How do we sustain and institutionalize that change? What conversations need to happen to recognize the things that make us uncomfortable and how are we actively seeking change?

Sessions in this topic area may include explorations of work that has been, and is continuing to be, implemented in organizations and communities to reach equitable practices (concerning race, systemic racism, sexual orientation, etc.), with a focus on how this work can be expanded and prioritized.

Elevating Family and Youth Voice

Families look a lot of different ways, inclusive of single parents, foster and adoptive families, kinship providers, two-earner families, and more. Family engagement across all kinds of families is a key component in successful programming, and it is important for organizations/agencies to include Family Voice in a meaningful and successful way.

Sessions in this topic area may focus on how incorporating Family Voice builds and strengthens relationships especially as it relates to COVID, building empathy, working through conflict, social-emotional competence and behavioral health, school liaisons, and accessing and navigating public systems and services (e.g. Child Welfare, TANF, etc.). Other areas to explore could include involving families in an equitable manner (i.e. compensation), mentorship and coaching, recruitment and retention, welcoming and including family and youth voices, and using family and youth voices to direct the work we do.

Supporting Workforce Care

Recognizing that self-care can look very different from one individual to the next, these sessions will address how self-care is important all of the time, but especially in light of COVID fatigue, and certainly vital in light of an anti-racist movement. These sessions can provide an opportunity to practice self-care; discuss self-care techniques or activities for individuals, families, and workplace environments; and address other opportunities for taking care of ourselves.

Sessions in this topic area can also contain workforce management content related to recruitment, retention, change management, transitions, and supporting workforce care/self-care.

Collecting and Leveraging Data

There has been a lot of interest in recent years in using data to make informed decisions and gain insight into programmatic and community needs. In these sessions, learners will explore new and innovative technologies being used to collect and analyze data, tips on sharing data across sectors, and a chance to share studies and research (both quantitative or qualitative) related to the field.

Highlighting the Importance of Male Involvement

The work of strengthening families can sometimes focus on moms or women caregivers, in a field dominated by women. These presentations will raise awareness on the importance of intentionally giving space to fatherhood and male involvement, including male recruitment and retention, engaging men and male caregivers, and creating or revising policies and practices so that they are inclusive of male involvement.

Sessions in this topic area may include opportunities to build skills and knowledge on how this has looked in practice, as well as upcoming opportunities.

Working Together to Maximize Resources

Collaboration, cooperation, alignment, resource sharing, oh my! How does collaboration in your relationships with partners maximize resources in your work? How has working together strengthened the families and communities you serve? Examples could include shifts in practice, new collaborative partnerships, concrete resource sharing, or referral practices.

Sessions in this topic area could also include opportunities on how to think differently about funding sources, blending and braiding funding sources, and funder-led discussions.

Innovation Space

Since the last time we met in 2020, there have been many new practices and programming established, both in response to COVID and in response to our ever-changing world. Do you know of an example where agencies, organizations and/or communities innovated in their work with children and families as a result of COVID that is continuing in a post-pandemic space? What shifts in practice took place? What have you done that has advanced the strengthening of families and promotion of the protective factors? What creative solutions have been developed or implemented to respond to the needs of families? What lessons have you learned, or what are you planning to continue, and why?

Policy

Whether big “P” around state and national level policy change, or little “p” for organizational policy change, there is a lot going on in this area. These presentations will focus on levels of change and adaptations that have already taken place, or ones that are in the works. These can be informative or awareness-building, as well as opportunities for attendees to give input and feedback on policy changes impacting families in Colorado.

About the Conference

The Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference is a biennial event and is a joint collaboration across the family support continuum, from prevention and public health through restoration and child welfare. 

Presented in Partnership by:

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