Here at Illuminate Colorado, we’re so excited to look ahead to 2024 and all of the potential it holds to strengthen families, organizations, and communities to prevent child maltreatment. But first, join us in taking a look back at some highlights from 2023 as we worked to build brighter childhoods across Colorado.

Illuminate Colorado started off the year with growth and reorganization.

In reflecting upon our current abilities and future vision, we embarked upon an internal reorganization to allow for continued strategic and intentional growth of our programs, initiatives, and operations to expand our reach and our impact. In addition to the creation of two Deputy Director positions, many other staff were promoted in order to increase capacity and efficiency.

“Illuminate has such a strong and dedicated staff, and it was exciting to be able to promote heavily from within the organization.” 

Anne Auld

Deputy Director

We recognized outstanding parent leads during Parent Leadership Month.

In 2023, for the first time, Circle of Parents recognized outstanding Parent Leads from groups throughout Colorado. These Parent Leads, nominated by group facilitators, consistently contributed to their group, displayed strong boundaries, provided support to the functioning of their group, and built strong and supportive relationships with other group members. These parents not only contributed to the amazing communities that Circle of Parents groups are known for, but also helped other parents to build their leadership skills, leading to stronger families and stronger communities. 

In February, Illuminate Colorado’s Executive Director, Jade Woodard, and Director of Home Visitation, Angelica Fox, visited the Eagle County Family Connects team.

During the visit, Jade and Angelica had the opportunity to meet with Sarah Weatherred, one of Family Connects’ nurse home visitors, and hear what she has to say about the program: 

“[My favorite part of being a home visitor with Family Connects is] The incredible team I get to work with and knowing we are having a positive impact on families in Eagle county. I love that it is all inclusive as well.”

For Child Abuse Prevention Month (CAPM), we advocated for family strengthening policies at the capitol and celebrated leaders in prevention at the Illuminating Leadership Awards and Pinwheel Breakfast.

After the legislative session was complete, we reflected on the 25 bills that would promote protective factors and strengthen families that Illuminate advocated for at the state level.

These bills ranged across many areas of focus, including access to health care, economic supports, housing stability, child welfare system involvement, and more, all aligning with our 2023 policy priorities. Of the bills Illuminate supported, 21 passed. Illuminate also advocated for two budget priorities, both of which succeeded. 

We partnered with Kappa Delta to pack summer survival kits for Circle of Parents families.

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.

These kits will provided 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!

In June, we celebrated the launch of Colorado Connected, a statewide effort to strengthen connections between families and communities.

The campaign is designed to inspire parents to build a network to turn to when they need “back up” and to encourage friends, families and neighbors to become a “village” of support and let parents and caregivers know “We Got UR Back.” The goal is to empower parents to ask for support, offer support to one another, and to normalize supportive parenting networks to create strong families.

“Every parent needs and deserves a supportive network of people. By backing up parents with essential supports, we celebrate them daily…and also help to raise healthy children and build stronger, more connected communities.” 

Jade Woodard

Executive Director

We updated the Tip Colorado website to better connect professionals, caregivers, and community members with child sexual abuse prevention trainings.

“Each training is strength-based, discussion focused, and aims to increase confidence and knowledge on how we each play a role in preventing child sexual abuse.” 

Anne Auld

Deputy Director

The new website features an interactive map showcasing how far each county is in their journey to reach their tipping point, information to help you decide which training to take first, and a calendar where you can view and sign up for trainings that work for your learning goals and schedule!

In September, we celebrated Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Month and reflected on our advocacy for FASD-aware policies at the state and federal level.

August 30, 2023 Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee. Left to Right: Rep. Elizabeth Epps, Jade Woodard (Illuminate Colorado Executive Director), Jillian Fabricius (Illuminate Colorado Deputy Director), Lex Loutzenhiser (Illuminate Colorado Policy Manager), and Rep. Chris deGruy Kennedy.

2023 FASD Hill Day. Left to right: Lex Loutzenhiser (Illuminate Colorado Policy Manager), Jade Woodard (Illuminate Colorado Executive Director), Shira Shump (Illuminate Colorado FASD program manager), Domenica Steele (Co-Chair of the SuPPoRT Colorado FASD Awareness Workgroup) and Marilyn Fausset (Co-Chair of the SuPPoRT Colorado FASD Awareness Workgroup).

In November, we were thrilled to announce Connect to Protect Kids: An innovative strategy to protect children and youth from sexual abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and interpersonal violence.

Utilizing a collaborative approach with shared governance and decision-making, Connect to Protect Kids will develop and disseminate a best-in-class prevention education toolkit to protect children from sexual abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and other types of online, peer, and interpersonal violence. Illuminate Colorado is proud to be a founding partner in this process to develop the next generation of prevention.

We saw families win at the polls during the November election.

This November, Coloradans headed to the polls to vote on state and local ballot issues that impact families. Proposition ii passed, enabling Colorado to retain tax revenue for Universal Pre-K. Proposition HH failed, maintaining Colorado’s current tax structure. Governor Jared Polis initiated a special legislative session to consider funding set aside for Prop HH and a newly available federal funding stream that would strengthen families through concrete food and nutrition support.

 

Throughout the year we welcomed several new staff members.

Christina Ambrose, Grants & Events Manager

Cristina Bejarano, Director of Strategic Initiatives

Meghan Bellamy, Strategic Initiatives Associate

Jordan Davis, Early Childhood Teacher

Shannon Day, Education Program Manager

JoAnn Garbiso, Lead Child Care Teacher

Mary Houlihan, Strategic Initiatives Associate

Trisha Halencak, Circle of Parents General Program Manager

Sreena Karki, Infant Child Care Teacher

Tani Korb, Executive Assistant

Nicole Leung, Communications Manager: Web & Design

Karci Lockwood, Strategic Initiatives Associate

Lex Loutzenhiser, Policy Manager

Danielle McQueen, Evaluation & Strategic Learning Manager

Genevieve Peek, Finance Manager

Shana Shaw, Circle of Parents Specialty Program Manager

Shira Shump, FASD Program Manager

Yvonne Trujillo, Early Childhood Teacher

Megan White, Home Visitation Program Manager

In December, we welcomed the Safe Babies Program to Illuminate.

Through an innovative, team-based approach, Safe Babies, a program of ZERO TO THREE, applies the science of early childhood development to meet the urgent needs of babies and toddlers under court jurisdiction, ultimately transforming child welfare practice.

The Safe Babies program seamlessly aligns with Illuminate Colorado’s mission to prevent child maltreatment and promote family well-being. Its evidence-based approach, rooted in developmental science, mirrors our commitment to effective, research-backed strategies that address the unique challenges faced by families across Colorado. This program also complements our existing efforts, providing numerous opportunities for cross-alignment, and allowing us to deepen our impact and reach across the state.

With your help, we raised $31,233 for children and families in Colorado!

Colorado prospers when our children thrive. No matter where they live, children need high-quality experiences and loving relationships to support healthy development, and each one of us has a responsibility to be a point of light in the lives of the children in our communities.

Thank you to everyone who became a Point of Light and joined us in making a lasting difference in the lives of children and families in Colorado this year.

 

 $31,233 for children and families!

 

Thanks for celebrating 2023 with us, and we hope you will continue to stay engaged in 2024–there are big things coming!

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