An open dialog between caregivers and professionals around substances and safety is critical for keeping kids safe.

It is essential for any professional who works directly with families to be equipped with the tools needed to have effective conversations about substances and how to empower parents to make small changes to increase safety–and that’s why Illuminate Colorado developed a conversation guide for professionals to use in talking to families about substance use and preventing child maltreatment.

Keeping Kids Safe is Universal

All parents and caregivers know that keeping their kids safe is a big part of the job. Figuring out how to do that, however, isn’t always easy, and families often need support from the professionals who serve them. The Conversation Guide for Professionals on Substance Use, Children & Families Training is designed to enhance the work of any family services professional by offering guidance for how to talk with families about creating safer environments for their children.

Smart Choices Safe Kids is for caregivers, too!

Check out our blog on how you can increase safety for kids, one step at a time. Click here!

The information in the Conversation Guide Training can be applied to any family, in any situation. With the right tools, professionals can meet families wherever they are and work with them to reach a place of safety. In the Conversation Guide Training, professionals learn how to use this perspective to remove the stigma surrounding substance use and parenting. In a world where substance use occurs, the goal is to equip parents to manage their children’s safety through safe homes, safe caregiving, and child and family well-being.

“With the right tools, professionals can meet families wherever they are and work with them to reach a place of safety.”

Removing Stigma by Focusing on Strengths

What makes the Smart Choices Safe Kids Conversation Guide Training uniquely effective is its strengths-based approach. Instead of focusing on what might be considered deficits in a family’s approach to safety, the Conversation Guide Training offers techniques professionals can utilize to identify family strengths to build upon. 

When it comes to exposure to potential hazards, a caregiver is almost certainly already taking steps to increase safety for their kids–like keeping bleach or other cleaners locked up and out of reach. The role of the Conversation Guide-trained professional, then, is to help parents identify and implement small changes they can make to keep their kids even safer. 

“The role of the Conversation Guide-trained professional, then, is to help parents identify and implement small changes they can make to keep their kids even safer.” 

When professionals focus on a caregiver’s strengths, they are not only building trust, but also removing the stigma that surrounds parenting or caregiving and substance use. By recognizing that all families want the best for their children–and that while substance use may influence safety, that doesn’t change how much parents care about their children–professionals can eliminate the moral blame or burden that often prevents parents or caregivers from seeking the very support they need to keep their kids safe.

“The idea is to bring it coast to coast”: Smart Choices Safe Kids Across State Borders

The effectiveness of the Smart Choices Safe Kids Conversation Guide Training has established it as a resource that can benefit any community. That’s why, with the support of the National Office of Head Start, Illuminate Colorado is working to offer the Conversation Guide Training across the United States. Colorado is at the forefront of empowering professionals and families to have open discussions about substance use and safety, and Illuminate is committed to supporting other states to do the same. 

Meet Jason Read, Senior Education Program Manager and Conversation Guide Training Facilitator

At Illuminate, Jason works to develop evidence-based curricula and delivers trainings focused on strengths-based prevention and intervention concepts. With a background in serving individuals, families, and children in a variety of education and human services roles for 25 years, Jason is passionate about work that strengthens families and changes lives. 

Even with his extensive experience in delivering the Smart Choices Safe Kids Conversation Guide Training, Jason still leaves every training having learned a new and innovative way to use the material. As someone who is passionate about always pushing forward the movement of increasing safety for families, Jason finds constant inspiration in facilitating trainings. 

If you’re a professional who works with children and families, sign up to take the training today!

With the training, you’ll receive…

    • The Conversation Guide for Professionals on Substance Use, Children, and Families 
    • 10 locking safe-storage bags for distribution to families
    • Parent handouts containing evidence-based information
    • 4-hour Certificate of Completion
    • Ongoing support and supplies

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