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.