Ensuring Every Parent Has Access to a Supportive Community

Ensuring Every Parent Has Access to a Supportive Community

The Circle of Parents program offers peer support groups for anyone in a parenting and/or caregiving role. Through free group sessions, participants are provided a safe, confidential, and non-judgmental space to discuss the successes and challenges of raising children; share ideas, resources, and support; and build their confidence, skills, and knowledge as caregivers. It is a friendly, supportive community led by parents and other caregivers where parents are the experts.

In Circle of Parents groups, caregivers are able to come together to share support, tips and advice or just talk. Groups are safe spaces to vent, cry, laugh, joke and find out how other parents are navigating this new world.

There are Circle of Parents groups across the state, from Cortez to Fort Collins and Grand Junction to Lamar. No matter what your parenting journey looks like, there is a group for you! In addition to general parenting groups, there are Circle communities for parents in recovery, Spanish speaking caregivers, parents of children with special needs, and more.

But, as all Coloradans know, our state is vast and largely rural. And while Illuminate’s Circle of Parents team is working diligently with caregivers across the state to launch, foster, and grow groups in every community, it is a tall order.

That’s why the Circle of Parents team set out to find a way to make a group available to every caregiver in Colorado, regardless of how far away they live from a group.

We are excited to announce the newest Circle of Parents group will be hosted virtually and open to caregivers from every corner of Colorado!

Here are the details: 

What: Colorado Statewide Circle of Parents group

When: Every Thursday at noon, starting July 11th!

Where: Zoom – https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86792351372

Join us next Thursday as we all navigate the peaks and valleys of parenthood together!

Questions?

Contact Trisha Halencak, Circle of Parents General Program Manager

thalencak@illuminatecolorado.org

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Request for Proposals: Sustainability Consultant for the Circle of Parents Program in Colorado

Request for Proposals: Sustainability Consultant for the Circle of Parents Program in Colorado

Overview

The State of Colorado Judicial Department has received a federal Regional Partnership Grant, titled Circle of Parents Expansion (COPE), from the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, Children’s Bureau. Through this grant the Colorado Judicial Department is partnering with Illuminate Colorado, the State Lead for Circle of Parents, to expand Circle of Parents in Recovery support groups for parents involved with the child welfare system and the courts. Illuminate Colorado is seeking a Sustainability Consultant to identify and recommend long term sustainable funding approaches for Circle of Parents groups, including but not limited to medicaid and behavioral health billing as well as potential federal, state, and local funding streams.

Circle of Parents Program Overview

Circle of Parents is a national, evidence-informed program that envisions a world where all caregivers have the knowledge, skills and support to raise children that are healthy, valued, and thriving. The Circle of Parents program operates as a peer support and mutual self-help model for anyone in a parenting and/or caregiving role. Through free and routine group sessions, participants are provided a safe, confidential, and non-judgmental space to discuss the successes and challenges of raising children, share ideas, resources, and support, and build their confidence, skills, and knowledge as caregivers. Groups may be formed around general caregiving roles or shared perspectives, identities, or experiences, such as groups for Spanish-speaking caregivers, caregivers in recovery from Substance Use Disorders, caregivers of children with developmental disabilities, single caregivers, kinship, foster, or adoptive caregivers, father figures, veterans, and more. As a concurrent offering, Children’s Circle serves the children of the Circle of Parents participants.

Term of Contract

June 1, 2024 – September 30, 2024

Budget

Up to $10,000

RFP Submission

Proposals should be digitally submitted to tkorb@illuminatecolorado.org with “Circle of Parents Sustainability Consultant” in the subject line by 5:00 p.m. Mountain Time on May 30th, 2024. Proposals should not exceed 4 pages, excluding budget and other attachments.

Celebrating the Connections Between Black History Month and Parent Leadership Month

Celebrating the Connections Between Black History Month and Parent Leadership Month

In honor of February as both Black History Month and Parent Leadership Month, we are recognizing the sacrifices that Black caregivers have made for their children throughout history. All caregivers make sacrifices in their lives to be the best parents they can be and create healthy environments for their children. Today, throughout the month, and all year long, it is important to recognize the extreme sacrifices that Black parents and communities have made to ensure the well-being of the next generation. 

Recently, we had the chance to speak with Shana Shaw, Illuminate’s Circle of Parents Specialty Program Manager, about how sacrifice and parenthood go hand in hand, and how Circle of Parents groups provide safe spaces where caregivers can relate over their shared sacrifices, and grow together.

All caregivers are leaders, and every caregiver makes sacrifices.

Like we talked about in this blog, every parent is a leader in their own way, supporting their children, other caregivers, and their community. It takes leadership for a parent to see a better future for their children and then make the sacrifices needed to achieve their vision. Caregivers everywhere give up the ease and flexibility of a life focused on themselves in order to build routines and environments where their children can thrive. Sacrifice is the ultimate form of parent leadership – and every parent can relate to that.

Shana Shaw

Circle of Parents Specialty Program Manager

Across cultures, parenthood is about sacrifice.

While it may look different across cultures, all caregivers make sacrifices in order to create better lives for their children. Shaw explained that in Black communities, unthinkable sacrifices have been made by caregivers in order to ensure the next generation experiences less struggle and pain. She thinks about the sacrifices of her grandparents, which allowed her mother the right to an education, and then of her own mother, which have allowed Shaw to experience greater freedom in her life. Forward movement within systemically racist systems and social structures requires sacrifice, and is a gift that has been passed down through generations in Black communities in order to secure better lives for their children. 

Circle of Parents groups provide safe spaces where caregivers can connect over shared challenges

Although all caregivers make sacrifices, it’s crucial to recognize that these sacrifices aren’t simple or easy. It can be extremely difficult for parents to deprioritize parts of themselves that they view as essential to their individuality – such as their independence, their close friends, or even hobbies. Shaw explained that parents are also working through their own trauma, which is not a small task – it is a sacrifice in itself for parents to do the work of processing their past in order to become better caregivers for their children. Putting a child’s best interests above your own takes a lot of work, and it isn’t easy to get used to. 

That’s why it’s important for parents to have safe spaces where they can connect with other parents who are experiencing similar challenges. Circle of Parents groups offer safe spaces where caregivers can feel supported in their journey of examining themselves and exploring ways that they can show up as better parents for their children, Shaw explained. Caregivers often feel isolated and alone in the sacrifices they make during parenthood, which is why groups like Circle of Parents are so vital. 

Spaces where caregivers can show up as nothing else but their authentic selves, ready to learn and grow, make all the difference.

There’s a Circle of Parents group for everyone.

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Every Parent is a Leader

Every Parent is a Leader

February is Parent Leadership Month! Parent leadership helps families to focus on and grow from their strengths, which fosters healthy children and strong communities. Circle of Parents groups are places where caregivers can support each other and where every parent’s leadership skills can shine.

This month, Illuminate will be diving into how every parent is a leader in their community, and how Circle of Parents nurtures leadership skills so caregivers can be their best selves for their families. Join us!

Parent leadership looks different for everyone.

There are many ways caregivers can show up as leaders in Circle of Parents groups. While some might be leaders by texting other participants to check in, see if they need any support, and encourage them to attend that day’s meeting, others may take the lead in setting up the space for the meeting, or by taking attendance. Although all of these actions are different, each is essential to the functioning of the group, and are important ways in which caregivers show up as leaders.

The most important part of parent leadership is being present. When you think of the word leader, titles like president, manager, or even facilitator might come to mind. But, to be a leader, all a caregiver needs to do is be consistent in how they show up for their family and community. Every caregiver is a leader in their own important and irreplaceable way.

To the caregivers out there: Think about the first time that another parent came to you for advice. You listening to that person’s struggles was you being a leader!

Parent leadership builds the Five Protective Factors.

There are Five Protective Factors that help families to thrive by providing a buffer against risk factors associated with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Parent leadership skills that caregivers learn in Circle of Parents® groups help to build the Five Protective Factors, strengthening families and improving outcomes for children.

The Five Protective Factors Are:

  • Parental Resilience

  • Social Connections

  • Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

  • Concrete Support in Times of Need

  • Social and Emotional Competence of Children

Social Connections

Parent leaders in Circle of Parents groups reach out to each other if someone misses a group, and even schedule coffee chats if other caregivers are in need of the extra support. These social connections help to limit isolation that caregivers often feel, which reduces stress.

Parental Resilience

Caregivers in Circle of Parents groups listen and show empathy when other participants share their struggles. They also celebrate each other’s successes and build connections by asking them about their lives outside of parenting, like hobbies and interests. This culture offers a space where caregivers know they can share openly and receive the support, advice, and connection they need in return.

Concrete Support in Times of Need

Circle of Parents participants show up for each other in any way that is needed. For example, caregivers often share knowledge of community resources or offer to accompany another parent to an appointment. These simple yet impactful acts help to bridge the gaps in support in caregivers’ lives. When caregivers are able to access the resources or services that their families need, barriers are dismantled and stress is reduced.

Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

While there may not be a manual for being a caregiver, learning about parenting and how children develop is critical in building the Five Protective Factors. Parent leaders support each other by offering encouraging suggestions during potty training, by attending classes together to learn about topics like teens and cell phones, or sharing their knowledge on a certain stage of child development.

Social and Emotional Competence of Children

In Circle of Parents groups, caregivers learn to normalize sharing their feelings and emotions and how to model clear communication. Caregivers also learn about new and healthy ways to interact with their children, like how to increase their bond by letting their child lead an activity.

Every parent brings unique leadership skills to the table– let’s celebrate them all!

Parents show up as leaders for their families and communities every day. Whether it be by sharing advice with another parent, offering to help out by bringing over dinner on a hectic day, or just by being present and open to connection, all caregivers are essential leaders. During Parent Leadership Month, and throughout the year, we celebrate caregivers across Colorado.

There’s a Circle of Parents group for everyone.

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Building Connections and Breaking Down Barriers for Parents in Recovery

Building Connections and Breaking Down Barriers for Parents in Recovery

September is National Recovery Month and this week we are shining a spotlight on one of Illuminate’s most impactful programs: Circle of Parents

Circle of Parents groups are led by parents for parents and provide a free, confidential, non-judgemental space where caregivers can discuss the successes and challenges of raising children. 

In addition to general Circle of Parents groups, there are specialty groups offered across Colorado– including Circles for parents in recovery. 

Recently, we had the chance to speak with Circle of Parents Program Manager Toni Miner about Circle of Parents in Recovery and how she has seen it impact participants’ lives. Let’s talk about what we learned!

Social Connections are Essential to Recovery

 

The purpose of Circle of Parents in Recovery groups is to break down barriers and reduce shame for parents recovering from substance use disorders. Building community and social connections are critical components of recovery, and Circle of Parents provides a space where parents can do just that. 

Group discussions center around recovery and breaking down the associated stigma. Parents with substance use disorders face unique challenges, and Circle of Parents in Recovery groups give parents the hope that they might not find in other spaces.

Circle groups talk about the importance of social connections, how long (or if) group members have been sober, and the challenges specific to parenting with a substance use disorder. Toni explained how helpful it is for parents to discuss challenges with people who have been in similar situations and can relate to their experiences. That way parents don’t feel judged, but instead are building the connections that are so important to recovery.

Lived Experience is an Invaluable Resource

Group members are able to support each other at every stage of their recovery and parenting journeys. Toni has known group members for several years who are now able to encourage new members who are struggling with the beginning stages of recovery.

Some parents first join Circle of Parents when their children have been removed from the home. Toni has seen many of these parents progress so far in their recovery and parenting journeys that they can now share their story with new members who are dealing with similar situations and serve as examples of why not to give up.

The caregivers in Circle of Parents in Recovery groups are the experts on recovery resources in Colorado. Group members are able to recommend community resources for anything another parent might need, from sober living resources to detox support.

“The parents who come to these groups are the resource kings and queens.”

– Toni Miner, Circle of Parents Program Manager

Parents don’t need to be in active recovery to join a Circle. All caregivers are welcomed with open arms regardless of whether or not they are in recovery. Toni explained that parents in her group would rather a parent who is dealing with substance use join the group and receive the support they need than to see them turned away.

The Opposite of Addiction is Connection

When parents have the connections that are necessary for recovery, they are able to reach their full potential. By coming to Circle of Parents in Recovery meetings, Toni has seen parents gain self-esteem, start to believe in themselves, and become leaders in their families and communities. Parents truly become strong advocates for themselves and their children. 

Circle of Parents in Recovery groups have become genuine communities for parents where they can build relationships with their peers and extend and nurture friendships outside of meetings. Toni has even seen how the group members’ children connect with each other and are excited to play together each week. 

Toni’s favorite part about facilitating Circle of Parents in Recovery groups is watching members grow as individuals and as parents.

“I see parents gain self-esteem and really start to believe in themselves and become leaders in their own families and communities.”

– Toni Miner, Circle of Parents Program Manager

There is a Circle of Parents group for everyone.

Choose from Spanish-Speaking, Fatherhood, Parents in Recovery, Parents of Children with Special Needs, General Parenting groups, and more. 

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Prevention Partnership Spotlight: Colorado State University Kappa Delta Phi Epsilon Chapter

Prevention Partnership Spotlight: Colorado State University Kappa Delta Phi Epsilon Chapter

Summer can be hard for parents. If you’ve taken care of a child, you might know that it can take a lot of energy and ideas to keep up with them. When kids are out of school for the summer, this can increase the load on parents and caregivers, especially if they aren’t able to find or afford child care or summer camps.

One of the ways that Illuminate Colorado strengthens parents and caregivers is by supporting Circle of Parents® groups across Colorado to provide a safe, supportive, confidential, non-judgmental environment where parents can openly discuss their successes and challenges.

Recently, thanks to our relationship with Kappa Delta, Illuminate Colorado was able to provide another tangible way to support Circle of Parents groups across the state–packing summer survival kits.

On April 16, fifteen Kappa Delta sisters from the Phi Epsilon Chapter at Colorado State University volunteered to help Illuminate staff pack summer survival kits for Circle of Parents families. They packed 200 bags in just half an hour!

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Our History with Kappa Delta

Prevent Child Abuse America has been a national philanthropy supported by thousands of Kappa Delta sisters for over 41 years. As the Colorado Chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America, Illuminate Colorado often partners with our local Kappa Delta collegiate and alumni chapters.

To date, Kappa Delta has raised over $33 million through collegiate and alumnae Shamrock events across the country for the prevention of child abuse and to build a better world and community where children can grow up confidently in safe and thriving communities.

The kits included items for both caregivers and kids. Caregivers can use items like a journal and pen or affirmation cards to practice their own self-care, but the kits also have fun items for kids to use during the summer, like sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and coloring supplies.

Now that the kits are packed, they will be distributed to Circle of Parents groups across the state. These kits will provide tangible support for families during a time that can be challenging for parents and caregivers. Thank you to the Phi Epsilon Chapter for helping us strengthen families in Colorado!

Before, During, and After!

Volunteer with Illuminate


?

Join our list of volunteers and we’ll let you know when opportunities are available.

Email Mike Robbins at mrobbins@illuminatecolorado.org to be added to the list.

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