While this year’s Colorado legislative session may be over, opportunities to advocate for policies that strengthen kids and families continue at the federal level. Raise your voice, and join Illuminate in advocating for the policies below!
Child Care and Early Learning Reconciliation Plan
Colorado and our nation prospers when our youngest children thrive, because they are our future leaders and community members. No matter where they live–the plains, mountains, rural areas or urban centers–children need high-quality experiences and loving relationships to support healthy development. Ensuring high quality child care is affordable and accessible for families is vital to ensuring a positive future for Colorado.
Conversations continue between Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), keeping hope alive that a reconciliation bill is a possibility. Reconciliation discussions include the revamped child care and early learning reconciliation plan, which largely focuses on expanding funding through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), and advocates on the Hill are hopeful that it will be included as part of reconciliation.
What can we do?
We must keep pressure on the Senate to ensure the child care and early learning proposal is included in the reconciliation bill.
To advocate for inclusion of the child care and early learning proposal in the reconciliation bill, participate in Prevent Child Abuse America’s child care action alert.
Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program Reauthorization
Home visiting programs are proven to positively impact maternal and child health outcomes–including by reducing child maltreatment, improving positive parenting practices, and improving family economic self-sufficiency.
Unfortunately, the current funding level limits their ability to reach the children and families who need them most. Only 150,000 of the 18 million current and expectant parents who could benefit from the program receive services. In Colorado in particular, while some level of home visiting services is available in all counties, according to the Child Fatality Prevention System’s 2020 Annual Legislative Report, “Not a single county in Colorado… has home visiting programs to meet the overall needs of families in the county.”
As the Colorado chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA) and a member of our state’s Home Visiting Investment Task Force, Illuminate Colorado enthusiastically supports the importance of maintaining and bolstering the infrastructure necessary to offer high-quality home visiting services to families across our state and nationwide.
What can we do?
To bring the power of home visiting to more families, we need Congress to reauthorize and increase funding for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program. You can help us to reach members of Congress about the bipartisan MIECHV program by taking part in and sharing the PCA MIECHV action alert!
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Respect Act
When children, adults, and families impacted by fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) receive appropriate diagnoses, supports, and services, secondary impacts of FASD (e.g. dropping out of school, getting into trouble with the law, alcohol and other substance use, etc.) can be prevented, and impacted individuals and families can thrive. Prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) is the most commonly known cause of developmental disabilities in the United States, and recent research shows that up to 1 in 20 first graders in the United States are impacted by the resulting disability of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).
While we know the importance of diagnosis and providing appropriate services for FASD, significant and concerning gaps in FASD-related diagnostic and clinical resources are common throughout the United States. Despite the clear need for more resources, federal funding for FASD prevention and intervention has declined from $27 million as authorized in the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Prevention Act of 1998 to just over $12 million in FY2021.
What can we do?
The “FASD Respect Act” (S. 2238 and H.R. 4151) authorizes $118 million for prevention, screening, identification, research, and FASD-informed services. The bill reauthorizes and strengthens existing federal FASD programs, replaces the defunct National FAS Taskforce with a National Advisory Council on FASD, and establishes a FASD Center of Excellence as the go-to entity for state, tribal and local governments and non-governmental stakeholders seeking to develop or improve best practices for prevention, diagnosis, and intervention services.
To advocate for the passage of the FASD Respect Act on behalf of an organization, sign on to the Letter of Support.
To advocate for the passage of the FASD Respect Act as an individual, reach out to Colorado’s senators and the representative for your district to schedule a meeting. Find support with scheduling and hosting a meeting with your legislator here.
Child Sexual Abuse Prevention
Globally, at least one in five girls and one in ten boys experience childhood sexual violence. Across Colorado, and in our own backyards, child sexual abuse is a major public health concern which must be addressed as a core element of child safety and family well-being. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, for the previous five years, the number of children who have been sexually abused had steadily risen in Colorado (1). From January 2014 through December 2020, more than 7,400 children in Colorado were identified as having been sexually abused (1). In 2020 alone, a year when reports of child maltreatment were dramatically down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent quarantine and stay-at-home orders, over 1,000 children were substantiated as victims of child sexual abuse through the child welfare system in Colorado, which doesn’t account for all of the children who have not yet been identified (2).
We hope you’ll join Illuminate Colorado in speaking up at the federal level to ensure that:
- Families have access to quality and affordable early learning/child care and home visiting services
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) prevention, screening, identification, research, and support services are appropriately funded
- Bold and transformative action is taken by our and other nations to end childhood sexual violence
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