New Senate Bill Will Help Children and Adults Living with FASD

Last Monday, the Advancing FASD Research, Prevention, and Services Act, S. 2879, was introduced in the U.S. Senate. This new legislation would authorize comprehensive Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) support services, public health prevention, and research programs across agencies within the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, and Justice.

On average, 1 in 20 first graders in the United States have a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), about one student per classroom. However, Federal funding for FASD prevention and intervention has drastically declined over the years, from $27 million as authorized in the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Prevention Act of 1998 to just over $11 million in FY2019.

Illuminate Colorado is the Colorado affiliate of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) and we join our national partners in asking for this support to strengthen our communities and support Colorado families impacted by FASD. #SupportS2879

The bill, as introduced, will:

Creates grant opportunities for states to:

  • Develop statewide FASD strategic plans;
  • Establish or enhance community FASD partnerships; 
  • Create pilot projects for FASD education, treatment, and support; and
  • Establish transitional services for adults with FASDs.

Reauthorizes and strengthens existing federal FASD programs.

Restructures the existing Interagency Coordinating Committee on FASD.

Creates an FASD Center of Excellence as the go-to entity for best practices for FASD prevention, diagnosis, and intervention programs and services.

Calls on the education and criminal justice systems to create screening procedures and conduct trainings on a nationwide FASD surveillance campaign.

Aligning National Efforts in Colorado to Strengthen Families

This national strategy to unite government efforts towards a common goal is aligned with Colorado’s effort to collectively build protective factors in individuals and families affected by prenatal alcohol exposure, prevent subsequent exposures and ultimately reduce the prevalence of FASDs.

The Colorado FASD Identification Work Group, comprised of families with children impacted by FASDs and family-serving professionals, has developed a series of recommendations for better addressing the issue in our state, through an evidence-informed process. The work group will be collaborating with Illuminate Colorado to seek stakeholder input on these recommendations across four regions in the state throughout the spring of 2020.

If it passes . . we’ll be ready.

Colorado will be ready to spring into action with vetted priorities from stakeholders across the state if it passes. Regardless of the outcomes of S.2879, Illuminate Colorado will continue to work in collaboration with our dedicated partners to support families impacted by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

Ask Colorado Senators to Co-sponsor the FASD bill, S. 2879, by December 13

How to Contact Senate Offices:

1) Visit senate.gov to find phone and contact forms for each of Colorado’s senators;
2) Draft a separate email message to each of the two senators (see suggestions for content below) and/or call their offices;
3) Send your email messages and/or make your phone call by December 13, 2019;
4) Let Illuminate staff (jsmith@illuminatecolorado.org) know about your emails and phone calls so that we recognize your support for the FASD bill in upcoming in-person NOFAS meetings in DC; and
5) Ask your colleagues and friends to also send emails and/or make phone calls;

Content Suggestions

Regardless of the overall content of your email the following information should be included:
1) A greeting that includes the name of the senator
2) An acknowledgement that you are a resident of the state that the senator serves;
3) A personal introduction including the recognition of any relationship you have with the senator or any current or past staff member in the senator’s office (i.e. have you met them at an event before? or spoken with a staff member on the phone before?)
4) A concise one sentence statement that you are writing to ask that the senator co-sponsor S. 2879, the Advancing FASD Research, Prevention, and Services Act;
5) A short one to two sentence description of FASD and the purpose of the bill (feel free to borrow language from this blog!);
6) A personal comment or vignette that illustrates why FASD is important to you and why it should be important to the senator. This is the reason you are asking the senator to co-sponsor the FASD bill;
7) Instructions as to how the staff member can get more information about the bill. When contacting Democratic or Independent senators direct the staff member to contact Elyssa Malin, Elyssa_Malin@klobuchar.senate.gov, in Senator Klobuchar’s office. When contacting Republican senators direct the staff member to Anna Dietderich, Anna_Dietderich@murkowski.senate.gov, in Senator Murkowski’s office;
8) A closing comment that thanks the staff member for their consideration and pledges that you will follow-up.

PS. If you or your family has been impacted by FASD, visit illuminatecolorado.org/fasd for further information and resources.

If you are a caregiver of children with an FASD, you might check out the FASD-specific Circle of Parents group. This is a video conferencing support group for parents and caregivers of children with symptoms of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders meets online the 1st Friday of the month 12:30 PM-2:00 PM.

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