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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