Training for Professionals
in the Child Welfare System

In partnership with the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Children and the Colorado Department of Human Services,  Illuminate Colorado offers a variety of courses for caseworkers and supervisors on child welfare practice and family engagement through the Colorado Welfare Training System.

You can access multiple web-based trainings and easily search for upcoming sessions of seminars to meet your learning needs at


All Families Have Strengths

Approaching families from a strength based perspective is crucial to our work and impact on the well-being of families. Knowing and understanding what strengths actually create protection for children is more difficult to operationalize. Knowing how to identify relevant family strengths can be even more difficult when we all have implicit bias. 

Course Details

Through the use of the Center for the Study of Social Policies Protective Factor Framework, workers are able to talk in depth about the strengths that are already present.  Workers will be able to identify the five protective factors,  the behaviors associated with each, and simple ways to support families in harnessing them to minimize risk.

Impacts and Implications of Prenatal Substance Exposure

This interactive one-day classroom course is designed to give you a better understanding of the impacts of prenatal exposure to substances on a fetus, an infant, a child and an adolescent.

Course Details

You’ll cycle through six stations, gaining knowledge about how different substances specifically affect development, and you’ll categorize nine brain processes and associated behaviors that may be affected by prenatal exposures to understand the impacts on children and youth throughout their lifetime.

Through hands-on activities, you will apply your learnings directly to case scenarios to give you opportunities to consider the application to your practice.

Upon completion of this course, you will comprehend the short- and long-term impacts on brain development and functioning, as well the unique challenges associated with maternal substance abuse and the implications for child safety. Additionally, you will be armed with knowledge to identify children and adolescents who have experienced prenatal substance exposure and the confidence to move forward with these cases.

Building Safety When Parents Use Substances

This interactive one-day classroom course gives you the foundation you will need in order to identify when substance use is impacting child safety. You’ll also learn how to build a consistent response when working with families impacted by substance use.

Course Details

A best-practice response is contingent upon familiarity with the dynamics of substance use, abuse, and addiction. So we’ll familiarize you with those dynamics and give you the opportunity to consider the impacts of substance use on child welfare practice—from screening to assessment to an ongoing case. You’ll leave informed and equipped to enhance safety-building practices with families when substance use is a factor.

Enhancing Practice With Families Impacted by Substance Use

Assessing for risk and safety when parental substance use is present can be complex and calls for increased comfort in talking with families about their substance use and possible impacts on children. 

Course Details

This interactive two-day training, suitable for new caseworkers, experienced caseworkers, and supervisors alike, offers advanced skill building. Teams or units are also invited to attend together. We’ll combine instruction with an emphasis on sharing successes and overcoming challenges through practical experiences and live simulations with professional actors.

Marijuana, Children and Families

Colorado is one of only a few states in the nation to have enacted laws allowing both medical and recreational marijuana use and cultivation. As our state embarks on this path, it is critical that those of us who work in child welfare be well informed. In order to make the best decisions regarding the safety of and risks to children, we need to understand both the laws and the possible hazards marijuana poses to children. 

Course Details

In this classroom course, you’ll engage in scenario-based learning and discussion of the complexities inherent in this changed legal landscape. The knowledge and skills you acquire in this learning experience will help guide your decision making in difficult cases and assist in individualized case planning with families to build child safety and promote healthy families. Through this course, you’ll start to recognize your own values and beliefs about marijuana, enhance your competencies for responding to challenging situations, and leverage existing knowledge and practice approaches.

Supporting Families When Children and Youth Display Problematic Sexual Behaviors

When children or youth engage in problematic sexual behavior, developing a plan to support the child and family can be complicated. In this course, learners will gain an understanding of what constitutes problematic sexual behavior, how to recognize it, and how to support families before and after adjudication.

Course Details

This interactive one-day classroom course will explore complex situations to safely analyze common concepts and practices, including 24/7 line of sight, informed supervision, and working within a treatment team.

Harnessing Protective Factors With Families

Knowing and understanding how the protective factors are applicable within our work with families means creating better outcomes for families.  This class will build on All Families Have Strengths and give workers the opportunity to practice how they will support families as they identify and build their protective factors. By increasing our capacity to integrate family centered coaching techniques into our work with families, we can transform the experience of families involved and become partners.  

Course Details

Through self-reflection and practice, workers will deepen their capacity to connect with families seeking to actively build their resilience, knowledge and ability to enact the protective factors and capacities with the children in their lives.

The Birds, The Bees and The Stork

Talking about sexual development and sexuality doesn’t have to be awkward or difficult. In this interactive one-day classroom course facilitated by Illuminate Colorado, learners will gain an increased understanding of healthy sexual development in children and youth. 

Course Details

Through activities and discussion, learners will be able to identify developmentally expected behaviors and distinguish those from concerning behaviors. As part of the course, learners will explore how to do the following:

  • Create and promote healthy boundaries and structures,
  • Talk about sexuality with various audiences, including children, youth, and caregivers, and
  • Make informed decisions to promote healthy sexual development and prevent concerning behaviors.
Ensuring Colorado Youth Thrive

Of the three child welfare pillars, the well-being of children and youth is often neglected. Yet young people who have emerged from their experience in this system say it is the most crucial to them. Focusing more intentionally on the social, emotional, behavioral, physical, and spiritual health of youth requires valuing their hopes and aspirations and understanding the impact of trauma (including trauma from racism, from the rejection of an individual’s sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity, or from other oppressive beliefs, policies, and practices that harm youth and families).


Course Details

Virtual Training Seminar

Training Hours: 6.5

Classroom Training Length: 1 Day

Recommended Prerequisite: All Families Have Strengths

Target Audience: Caseworkers, GALs, Resource Parents, Community Partners

In this Youth Thrive training, developed by a national team that includes members with lived experience in the foster system, you’ll learn the Youth Thrive Framework, which helps professionals assist youth to take advantage of opportunities, pursue their interests, and find support when challenges arise. You’ll encounter tools for working with youth who have high levels of traumatic stress and complex trauma, and you’ll leave this learning experience confident you know what’s needed to support the developmental needs of young people and how to maximize their opportunities for productive and healthy lives.

Through five 1-hour sessions, you will take a closer look at the impacts and implications of child sexual abuse, with an emphasis on youth offenders.

First, in the session Sexual Abuse on a Spectrum and Risk Assessment, you’ll explore through a therapeutic lens how sexual abuse presents on a spectrum and what to take into consideration when assessing for risk throughout the life of a case, including when new information about the abuse is uncovered in treatment and navigating when criminal charges are and aren’t filed.

In Managing Ongoing Safety, you’ll focus on how to increase the non-offending parent’s  protective capacity. This includes when a parent blames a child victim, cases of sibling sexual abuse in which parents face divided loyalties, when a non-offending parent is loyal to a coparent who is in denial, and involving formerly absent parents.

In the session Treatment for Youth Offenders, you’ll explore various types of therapies, working within a SOMD, and how to advocate for treatment for youth offenders, victims, and the families involved. You’ll answer questions like these: What is involved in treating youth offenders? What should caseworkers know about treatment expectations? How do we support the family?

In Cultural, Generational, and Trauma-Informed Safety Planning, you’ll practice how to safety plan in ways that are realistic, family centric, and trauma informed, taking into account cultural and generational needs.

Because sexual abuse can impact generations within families, the series concludes with Supporting Parents and Caregivers Who Were Sexually Abused as ChildrenThe WINGS Foundation’s Jean McAllister will guide you through the impacts of child sexual abuse on adult survivors and how to best meet their needs through support and therapy. Providing support for caregivers and parents who are adult survivors allows them space to heal, which gives them the tools and support they need to best meet the needs of their child who has experienced sexual abuse.


ECHO: In Depth With Substance Use
Course Details
In this virtual series of six 60-minute case-based learning experiences, you’ll explore the following:
  • Indications of substance use and how to identify substances, paraphernalia, and a person under the influence
  • What drug tests really reveal—and the complications associated with interpreting test results
  • Treatment evaluations and the importance of supporting families in accessing the right level of treatment at the right time
  • Facts and myths about medication-assisted treatment
  • Approaches for supporting families in recovery and working to prevent relapse
  • Various decision points in the life of a child welfare case and how to assess and ensure for parental capacity at each point


ECHO: Infant Early Childhood Mental Health
Course Details

Infant early childhood mental health—whether typical or disrupted—has lifelong implications for a child’s capacity to relate to their environment.

In this series of five 60-minute interactive ECHO sessions, you’ll expand your knowledge and understanding of issues related to early childhood mental health.

You’ll explore how brain development, attachment, and toxic stress affect children, and you’ll consider how negative impacts can be mitigated, including resilience building and where child welfare practice can intervene to support families.

ECHO: The Opioids Crisis
Course Details

Infant early childhood mental health—whether typical or disrupted—has lifelong implications for a child’s capacity to relate to their environment.

In this series of five 60-minute interactive ECHO sessions, you’ll expand your knowledge and understanding of issues related to early childhood mental health.

You’ll explore how brain development, attachment, and toxic stress affect children, and you’ll consider how negative impacts can be mitigated, including resilience building and where child welfare practice can intervene to support families.

ECHO: What Fathers Face in Child Welfare

When it comes to parenting, fathers can sometimes get a bad rap. From exaggerated father archetypes in film and television—aggressive, abusive, emotionally unavailable dads and absent fathers—to bias around gender roles and social norms, fathers are not always set up to succeed. But the positive impact of male caregivers and father figures in the lives of their children is undeniable.


Course Details

Through six intimate conversations with Colorado fathers, leading researchers, and fatherhood program practitioners, you’ll explore how bias toward dads can show up in child welfare outcomes and active ways to shift outcomes toward lasting well-being for children and youth.

You’ll learn how to better engage and support fathers in the following sessions:

Benefit of Fathers in Child Development. The vast majority of fathers are present in their children’s lives and their positive impact over the lifespan can’t be overstated. Explore how you can support fathers in creating the unique developmental impacts they are best at.

Anti-Father Bias in Action: One Father’s Experience. Hear from fathers who fought to be involved in their children’s child welfare cases and what they saw that caused them to make fatherhood engagement their passion. Hear how they continue to support fathers that are in the very situation they once found themselves in and how workers can change their life trajectory.

Building Protective Factors with Fathers. Protective factors reduce the likelihood of abuse and neglect in all families. Explore how workers can overcome the power imbalance and impact of social norms fathers frequently face when attempting to build the protective factors in their own lives.

Parenting Time and Courts. Many parents are unsure of the role of existing parenting time plans when child welfare enters their lives. Hear from fatherhood advocates about how building meaningful parenting time plans is crucial for children.

Navigating Child Support. Child Support Services statewide include fatherhood-specific programming that often aligns with components of child welfare case plans. Hear strategies to build and leverage cross-program collaboration to achieve timely reunification and lasting permanency.

Creating Father-Friendly Experiences in Child Welfare Settings. Shifting the experiences fathers have when working with child welfare systems takes practice. Explore how counties statewide have made small shifts to create big impact. From outreach to decision making, caseworker relationship building with fathers is achievable and possible through intentional action.

    ECHO: Trauma-Informed Yoga Series for Child Welfare Professionals

    Secondary traumatic stress is a typical experience among child welfare professionals, and burnout is not uncommon. You can mitigate the impacts of stress and be at your best in the field when you rely on self-care strategies that work for YOU—practices that bolster your resilience and promote your overall well-being. This uniquely structured Zoom-based learning series will set you up with proven techniques for reducing stress across all areas of your life, professional and personal.

    Course Details

    In five 90-minute sessions, led by a certified yoga instructor who is a former child welfare caseworker, you’ll learn research-based, trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness practices. Each class starts with 30 minutes geared toward learning; then you’ll spend 60 minutes putting your learning into practice on the mat.

    Each session has its own focus:

    • Defining yoga and its benefits
    • The nervous system
    • Self-awareness
    • Postures, breathing, and mindfulness
    • Establishing a routine to prevent stress and manage symptoms

    Over five weeks, you’ll both experience AND create the kind of supportive organizational climate that can help alleviate burnout: one that promotes peer relationships, normalizes asking for and receiving help, offers supports for secondary trauma, uses a trauma-informed lens to better support the workforce, and integrates self-care plans for all staff.

    No prior experience with yoga is necessary. All yoga and postures are optional, as there is an overall focus on self-care and taking care of one’s body.

    Important disclosure: This course requires learners to sign liability waivers in order to register due to the physical demands of the course. This course is taught via Zoom from a privately owned yoga studio, which will also require learners to sign a liability waiver.                                                

    ECHO: A Closer Look at Sexually Acting Out Youth

    Through 5, 1-hour sessions, learners will take a closer look at the impacts and implications of child sexual abuse, with an emphasis on youth offenders.

    Course Details

    Starting with a shared understanding of sexual abuse, and an exploration of treatment options, learners will then take a dive into cultural, generational and Trauma Informed Safety Planning. Sexual abuse can impact generations within families. To conclude the series, learners will explore supports for parents and caregivers who were sexually abused as children as this can often impact the support of the children involved in current cases.


    ACES: What’s in a Score

    Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events occurring before age 18 and include all types of abuse and neglect, as well as parental mental illness, substance use, divorce, incarceration, and domestic violence. The repeated stress of these experiences has proven effects on the development of the brain, with the impact occurring over a lifetime. People who experienced high levels of trauma as children are at a much higher risk for health issues, such as heart disease and lung cancer. The long-term impact of adverse childhood experiences gained wider acceptance through the landmark CDC-Kaiser Permanente ACE Study.

    Course Details

    In this interactive Web-based training, you’ll explore the study and lessons learned. You’ll also gain an understanding of how toxic stress can impact brain development and, in turn, long-term health and well-being outcomes. Furthermore, you will begin to explore prevention and intervention strategies to help mitigate the impact of ACEs.

    Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

    Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) affect nearly 30 percent of children and youth in the foster care and adoption system and 15 to 25 percent of those in the juvenile justice system. Do you know how to support children, youth, and families who are impacted by them?


    Course Details

    This Web-based training, with customized content for both caseworkers and caregivers, explores the research around the impacts of fetal alcohol exposure and how FASD affects behavior and functioning. You’ll examine what FASD looks like to adults and think about what it feels like to an affected child or youth. Using case scenarios, you’ll explore practical strategies and interventions for supporting these children and youth at home, in school, and in the community.

    Whether you’re a caregiver or a caseworker, your involvement with children or youth with FASD will be even more successful when you hone the skills for supporting them in managing their behavior and negotiating their daily life and know how to access community resources and specialized services.

    Legalized Marijuana: Considerations for Child Safety

    The legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational use in Colorado has brought with it many questions about its impact on children and families. In this interactive learning experience, learners will explore to what extent marijuana use or cultivation may affect child safety. 


    Course Details

    This web-based training provides:

    • an overview of Colorado’s marijuana laws,
    • an introduction to marijuana and its effects on the body and behavior and
    • a summary of existing research on the impacts on infants, children, teens and adults.
    The Substance Use Puzzle: Putting Together the Pieces

    Issues of substance use and abuse within families can be a complex puzzle. Its various pieces—a family’s struggles, needs, strengths, and supports—cohere to form a unique picture of the impact of substance use on parental functioning and parenting capacity. Through this interactive web-based training, learners will better understand all of the pieces of this puzzle and how they fit together. 


    Course Details

    Learners will gain insight into the different substances of use/abuse and their effects, the role of drug testing, the science of addiction, and substance use treatment. And they’ll explore how all of these connect to reveal the impact of substance use on children and families.


      Contact Jason Read, Education Program Manager and training facilitator


      Contact Missy Berglund, Education Program Manager and training facilitator

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