Finding the Right Words: Supporting Families During FASD Awareness Month

Finding the Right Words: Supporting Families During FASD Awareness Month

This September, which is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Month, Illuminate Colorado is bringing awareness to the many individuals and families who are impacted by the effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol in Colorado and across the United States.

Effective communication, rooted in strengths-based language, is a powerful tool in supporting families impacted by FASD. 

This week, we are focusing on how allies can utilize communication that emphasizes positivity and empowerment.

Acknowledge Resilience

Start your conversation by acknowledging the extraordinary resilience of families impacted by FASD:

“Your family’s strength and perseverance in facing the unique challenges of FASD is truly inspiring.”

Offer Practical Support

When offering help, emphasize your respect for their journey with FASD and ask how you can best support them:

“I respect you and the efforts you’ve put into managing the challenges of FASD. How can I best support you?”


Create a Judgment-Free Space

Build an environment that is free from judgment:

“I understand that FASD is complex, and I respect your resilience as you navigate this journey.”


Celebrate Achievements and Self-Identity

Focus on celebrating achievements while emphasizing that FASD doesn’t define their identity:

“I’m proud of you for the progress you have made. Remember, FASD may be a part of your journey, but it doesn’t define who you are.”


Validate Their Expertise

Affirm their expertise in managing FASD and show respect for their experiences:

“Your insights into FASD are invaluable. I’d love to learn from your experiences and the strategies that have worked for you.”


Be an Empathetic and Patient Listener

Listen with empathy and patience:

“I’m here to listen. Your experiences and feelings are important, and I deeply respect your perspective.”


Share Empowering Resources

Offer empowering resources and support groups that may help with their journey:

“I’ve come across some empowering resources and support groups that could complement your strengths. Would you like me to share them with you?”

Check out the NOFAS Colorado Facebook group.

The Facebook group offers regular support group meetings for caregivers impacted by FASD. 

Promote an Atmosphere of Positivity and Self-Worth

End conversations on a positive note, reinforcing their capabilities:

“I’m confident that, with your strengths and resilience, your family will continue to thrive. You are respected and valued in our community.”


Communication during FASD Awareness Month and beyond should emphasize strengths, empowerment, and respect for families impacted by FASD.

By acknowledging their resilience, offering support, and celebrating their achievements, we can create a positive, empowering environment that promotes awareness and understanding of FASD. 

Learn more about what Illuminate is doing during FASD Awareness month here.

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Request for Proposal: Seeking Research Partner for a Participatory Action Research Project Exploring Caregiver Experiences within Family Support Systems and Services

Request for Proposal: Seeking Research Partner for a Participatory Action Research Project Exploring Caregiver Experiences within Family Support Systems and Services

Position Overview

The Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families’ (CPTF) Family & Caregiver Space (FCS) is seeking a research partner to support a participatory action research (PAR) project called the Story of the System (SOS). The research partner will work closely with the Family & Caregiver Space’s SOS Project Team to provide ongoing guidance on all stages of the research process, from project design to findings dissemination. The project’s initial budget is $10,000 which will be provided upon contract to support Phase 1 of this project. The deadline to submit proposals is 5:00 p.m. MT on Friday, October 20, 2023.

Family and Caregiving Space (FSC) Overview

The FCS is a group of Lived Experience Experts who identify as family leaders and who have experienced, been involved in, or otherwise touched various systems that influence family health and well-being in Colorado. The overarching goal of the FCS is to work collaboratively across the state to engage families in creating conditions that allow all families to thrive.

Story of the System (SOS) Project Objectives, Phases, and Status

The SOS project is a co-designed, multi-phase qualitative research project led by the Family & Caregiver Space’s SOS Project Team. Through this project, the SOS Project Team aims to explore the following research questions:

1. How do Colorado families navigate obstacles in the intersections of Child Welfare/Department of Human Services and Public Health/Prevention and other connected systems?

2. To what extent is the participatory action research (PAR) approach an effective method for promoting the adoption of family-centered research practices in child welfare and related areas of policy and practice?

Illuminate Colorado Is Hiring An Executive Assistant!

Illuminate Colorado Is Hiring An Executive Assistant!

Join our team and support Illuminate’s Executive Director’s calendar, travel, correspondence, reports, and presentations.

The Executive Assistant provides support to the Executive Director and, as capacity allows, the Executive Team. In this role, the Executive Assistant will coordinate a wide range of responsibilities associated with the Executive Director’s calendar, travel, correspondence, reports, and presentations. This position will handle details of a confidential and critical nature and must function efficiently and effectively in a primarily remote, mission-driven environment.

Duties of the Executive Assistant include:

    • Provide administrative support and coordination for the Executive Director and, as capacity allows, the Executive Team.
    • Coordinate Board of Directors meetings and logistics.
    • Support document organization, processes for staff to receive executive approval when needed, execution of documents, creation of reports, presentations, and speaking engagements (including events and conferences).
    • Manage projects as assigned, including leading design, planning, and execution of activities and tactics.
    • Identify, engage, and oversee relationships with external consultants, as needed.

Click Here for the Full Job Description

Experience, Skills, and Qualifications

  • At least 3 years of administrative or project management experience
  • Commitment to Illuminate’s mission, vision, values, and foundations
  • Strong attention to detail, superior task management and organizational skills
    • Proven ability to develop and manage systems and processes, as well as organize and prioritize multiple complex projects and tasks
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills – must be able to communicate and represent information for executive level consideration internally, externally, and with Board leadership
  • Capable of exercising the highest level of discretion on both internal and external confidential matters
  • Demonstrated ability to establish and maintain highly collaborative working relationships with individuals of diverse professional backgrounds, technical expertise, and lived experience
  • Ability to balance multiple projects with shared deadlines while being responsive to emergent needs
  • Proficiency or ability to become proficient in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint); Google Workspace (Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides); Adobe Acrobat; Docusign; Zoom; SmartSheet;; and other platforms as needed

Compensation and Schedule:

Flexible part-time or full-time, salaried, exempt position eligible for benefits. Starting salary is negotiable and commensurate with skills and experience and schedule in the range of $25,000 – $60,000. 

Illuminate Colorado offers health and dental benefits as well as participation in a 401K and Life Insurance benefits. In addition, Illuminate Colorado has a generous paid time off policy and offers both flexible scheduling and remote work. If part time, this position will be eligible for benefits at a prorated amount. Residency in Colorado, or anticipated relocation to Colorado in the near future (at your own expense), is a condition of employment with Illuminate. 

To Apply:

Please submit a cover letter, resume, writing sample, and three references via email with “Executive Assistant” in the subject line to

Application Deadline:

Wednesday, October 4th, at 12pm


We are dedicated to building a diverse, inclusive and authentic workplace, so if you’re excited about this role but your past experience doesn’t align perfectly with every qualification in the job description, we encourage you to apply anyway. 

Check out these other job postings!

10 Ways to Support Families Impacted by FASD

10 Ways to Support Families Impacted by FASD

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), an umbrella term used to describe a range of effects that can occur in a fetus exposed to alcohol before birth, is the most commonly known cause of developmental disabilities in the United States.

As many as 1 in 20 school aged children in the US have an FASD, highlighting the need for increased education and resources on how to support impacted families. 

Below, you’ll find ways you can be an ally and provide support to members of your community impacted by FASD.

The Importance of Allyship


Raising Awareness 

FASD remains widely misunderstood. By being an ally, you can help raise awareness about this condition and reduce stigma. Widespread awareness can lead to early diagnoses, appropriate interventions, and supportive communities.

Promoting Inclusivity

Individuals with FASD often face difficulties in social situations, academic settings, and with finding employment. Being an ally means creating inclusive spaces where people with FASD are understood and can thrive without judgment.

Advocating for Equal Opportunities

People with FASD deserve equal access to education, healthcare, and job opportunities. As an ally, you can advocate for policies and practices that ensure their rights and needs are met. 

Empowering Families

Caregivers of individuals with FASD face unique challenges. Being an ally means offering emotional support, resources, and a listening ear to help them navigate challenges. Not sure where to start? Find tools that will help you build connections within your community.

Ways You Can Provide Support

1. Educate Yourself

Understanding FASD is the first step to effective allyship. Learn more about FASD to gain insight into the experiences and challenges faced by individuals with FASD and their families. Start here.

2. Actively Listen

Allow people impacted by FASD to share their experiences, challenges, and triumphs without judgment.

3. Avoid Judgment

People with FASD may display behaviors that are misunderstood by others. Instead of passing judgment, approach them with empathy and patience.

4. Be Patient and Flexible

Individuals with FASD might need more time to process information or complete tasks. Be patient and flexible in your interactions, offering support without pressure.

5. Create Inclusive Environments

In educational or workplace settings, advocate for accommodations that support the needs of people with FASD. Small changes can make a big difference in their success.

6. Offer Practical Help 

Offer your assistance in practical ways, such as helping with transportation, grocery shopping, or daily tasks. Make a point to ask the person or their caregivers how they would like to be supported.

7. Spread Awareness

Use your platform, whether it’s on social media or within your community, to spread awareness about FASD. Share accurate information, personal stories, and resources.

Follow Illuminate Colorado on social media to share our posts throughout FASD Awareness Month and beyond! 

8. Support Parental Well-being 

Caregivers of children with FASD often experience high levels of stress. Offer them opportunities for a break, a listening ear, or even organizing support groups where they can connect with others who understand their journey.

Check out the NOFAS Colorado Facebook group, which offers regular support group meetings for caregivers impacted by FASD. 

9. Advocate for Policy Change

Participate in advocacy efforts to promote policies that support individuals with FASD and their families. 

10. Be a Friend

Form genuine friendships with individuals with FASD. Just like anyone else, they need networks of supportive community and social connections to thrive.

This FASD Awareness Month, you can begin your journey of learning how to be an ally to people with FASD.

By understanding their challenges, advocating for their rights, and providing practical support, you can make a meaningful difference in the lives of families impacted by FASD.

Learn more about what Illuminate is doing during FASD Awareness month here.

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September is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Month!

September is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Month!

As the Colorado Chapter of FASD United, Illuminate Colorado is proud to support programs and resources that help families impacted by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) to thrive.

Join us this month as we explore things you can learn, be, do, say, and share to support families impacted by FASD.

This week, let’s learn the basics about FASD!

FASD is an umbrella term used to describe a range of effects that can occur in a fetus exposed to alcohol before birth, and is the most commonly known cause of developmental disabilities in the United States. The effects of prenatal alcohol exposure can be physical, mental, behavioral, and are often a combination of the three. Everyone with FASD is affected differently, with conditions ranging from mild to severe.

While the exact number of people who have FASDs is unknown, it is estimated that up to 1 in 20 U.S. school children may have an FASD, with 1 in 7 pregnancies being alcohol-exposed.¹  In Colorado in particular, an estimated 15.4% of pregnant individuals in our state drank alcohol during the last 3 months of their pregnancy, according to the most recently available Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) data.²

Through our work, Illuminate Colorado is prioritizing the accessibility of diagnoses for people with FASD. When equipped with a diagnosis, families impacted by FASD can better understand behaviors associated with FASD, receive developmental disability services in Colorado, qualification for Social Security, among other benefits.

Do you think your family would benefit from a FASD diagnosis?

A critical component in expanding support and resources for families impacted by FASD is reducing stigma around the disorder. FASD is largely a “hidden disability” which is a result of stigma preventing people from seeking out diagnoses. By increasing access to formal diagnoses, interventions, and supports, we can reduce stigma for children and adults with FASD.

Illuminate Colorado is committed to supporting the resources and education that are required to prevent occurrences of FASDs. It is critical for all pregnant people to have the information they need in order to make informed decisions about their baby’s health. There is no safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy, and at any point there is prenatal alcohol exposure, it is possible that an FASD will occur. Ensuring that this knowledge is widespread and accessible in our communities can greatly reduce instances of FASDs in our youngest Coloradoans. 

Learn more about the effects of alcohol during pregnancy and support options in this slide deck developed by SuPPoRT Colorado.

Exciting things are happening this month

This year is the 50th anniversary of the first formal FASD diagnosis in the United States. During FASD Awareness Month, it’s important to look back on the progress we’ve made to support families impacted by FASD and continue to look ahead to what needs to be done. 

Thanks to being awarded a generous Behavioral Health Administration grant, Illuminate Colorado is stepping up its efforts in supporting individuals affected by FASD. This grant has enabled us to make significant progress as well as add a new FASD Program Manager to the team. This new position will help us ensure that individuals and families dealing with FASD receive the support they need.

Throughout September, join us each week as we explore things you can be, do, say, and share to support families impacted by FASD. On September 9th, we will also be celebrating International FASD Awareness Day! Follow us on social media and share our posts to raise awareness across your own networks. 

We will also be sharing ways you can advocate for policy change at the state and federal level that will support families impacted by FASD. 

To keep everything in one place, we’ve created a hub for all of the information you need throughout the month here. And don’t forget to sign up for our blog email!

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