This summer, while the Colorado State Legislature is out of session, Illuminate Colorado is engaged with two interim committees: the Child Welfare System Interim Study Committee and the Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee.

Through engaging with these interim committees, Illuminate Colorado is ensuring that policy makers have the information they need to write effective legislation that has strong potential to strengthen families and communities across the state.  

Policy can support and strengthen families impacted by substance use.

The Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee is working to respond to challenges associated with substance use disorders in Colorado by identifying gaps in prevention, intervention, harm reduction and treatmentand identify possible legislative solutions. Illuminate is engaging with the Committee to ensure policymakers understand and consider the unique challenges faced by families impacted by substance use.

In July, Illuminate Colorado’s Executive Director, Jade Woodard, presented to the Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee on ways we can strengthen families impacted by substance use. Woodard discussed three strategies that Illuminate Colorado has prioritized in our work: access to child care, safe storage of substances, and recovery support for families.

All families need access to high-quality, affordable child care in order to thrive.

Woodard described the unique challenges caregivers experience in accessing child care while receiving substance use treatment and support, and how programs, such as Illuminating Child Carewhich provides free childcare for families while caregivers receive recovery servicescan reduce barriers to care. 

Ensuring that potentially harmful substances are not accessible to children is one way to increase safety in the home.

When speaking with the Committee, Woodard explained the need for increased public awareness of safe storage practices through consumer messaging and training for children, families, and family-serving professionals.

In Colorado, there is a high need for recovery support services for caregivers impacted by substance use disorders.

Woodard shared how Circle of Parents in Recovery, a program supported by Illuminate Colorado, provides a free, confidential, and supportive space where caregivers can share and learn with their peers in recovery.

This August, Illuminate Policy Manager Lex Loutzenhiser provided public testimony to the Committee about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and the role of policy in increasing Colorado’s capacity to prevent FASDs and to respond to the needs of individuals and families impacted by FASD. Learn more by reading our recent blog, Strengthening Colorado Families Impacted by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) through Policy.

Lex Loutzenhiser

Policy Manager

Child welfare system involvement is preventable through policy solutions.

The Child Welfare System Interim Committee is working to identify and address issues within the child welfare system in Colorado. Illuminate is excited to engage with the Committee to highlight the role of prevention and proactive, upstream policy solutions to prevent and reduce child welfare system involvement.

Woodard presented to the committee a necessary foundation of information needed to understand how to strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment.

She began by introducing how the five research-informed Protective Factors help families to deal effectively with stressful events, reducing the risk for child maltreatment. Policy plays a role in promoting the five Protective Factors by increasing the resources, connections, and supports available to communities that help families thrive.

Next, Woodard shared some concrete strategies that Illuminate Colorado has employed to strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment. 

        • Through programs such as Circle of Parents and Family Connects that provide support outside of the child welfare system, Illuminate has actively invested in family well-being infrastructure that promotes protective factors for all Colorado families.
        • Through encouraging warm connections and proactive referrals, Illuminate has also worked to ensure that family-serving professionals have the resources they need to connect families with supportive services when they are experiencing increased stress, such as food or housing insecurity.
        • Colorado Connected, a campaign supported by Illuminate, is actively working to empower parents to ask for support, offer support to one another, and normalize supportive parenting networks to create strong families.

Finally, Woodard discussed how strengthening programs that support families involved with the child welfare system, such as Circle of Parents and other evidence-based programs, promote healing and prevent recurrences of maltreatment. 

Illuminate Colorado will continue to advocate for policy that strengthens families and prevents child maltreatment.

As both committees solidify bill concepts and prepare for the upcoming legislative session, Illuminate will continue to engage with the interim committees to share expertise and recommendations to advocate for policy that strengthens families and prevents child maltreatment. 

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