This January, legislators returned to the Colorado State Capitol to kick off the legislative session. Through early May, the Colorado General Assembly will be introducing bills, engaging with constituents and stakeholders, and working with one another to turn legislation into laws. During this exciting time, Illuminate Colorado will be at the Capitol, advocating for policies that strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment.

Policy Change and the Five Protective Factors

In order to make informed decisions and advocate for policies that make a positive, sustainable, and long-term impact in Colorado, Illuminate utilizes several data-driven frameworks. When considering whether a policy will strengthen families and prevent maltreatment, one of the frameworks we look to for guidance is the Five Protective Factors, developed by the Center for the Study of Social Policy. Research shows that when families cultivate the following Five Protective Factors, they can better face life’s challenges, preventing child maltreatment

The Five Protective Factors Are:

  • Build Parental Resilience

  • Build Social Connections

  • Build Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

  • Build Concrete Support in Times of Need

  • Build Social and Emotional Competence of Children

By advocating for policies that promote these protective factors, we can make research-informed policy change that strengthens families and prevents child maltreatment.

To learn more about our guiding frameworks, visit our Strategies & Frameworks webpage.

2024 Illuminate State Policy Priorities

To bring focus and momentum to our policy work, we at Illuminate have set four policy priorities this 2024 Colorado legislative session. By reviewing relevant research, engaging with our partners in prevention, and listening to families impacted, we have established the following priorities:

1. Support a comprehensive family strengthening system by:

    • Increasing prevention funding to optimize resources dedicated to primary prevention
    • Promoting the coordination of prevention efforts
    • Narrowing the front door to the child welfare system

Comprehensive family strengthening systems strive to promote all five protective factors. For example, Family Resource Centers offer key support within a larger family strengthening system by connecting families to resources, such as food and nutrition services that promote Concrete Supports in Times of Need, parenting resources to gain Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development, and youth mental health resources that promote Social & Emotional Competence of Children. By advocating for policy change and increased funding to support a comprehensive family strengthening system that addresses families’ needs before and after child maltreatment occurs, we can build a foundation for families to thrive.

2. Increase economic support for all families to thrive by enhancing access to resources that promote financial wellbeing, economic security, and economic mobility

Increasing economic supports for all families regardless of child welfare involvement, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and direct cash assistance, strengthens families and reduces instances of child abuse and neglect. As Concrete Supports in Times of Need, economic supports reduce stress and increase opportunities for caregivers to create healthy environments that promote healthy child development. Illuminate will continue to advocate for economic supports as a primary prevention tool at the legislature to establish the building blocks for families to reach and maintain financial wellbeing.

3. Optimize resources dedicated to addressing substance use disorders in families

Optimizing resources for families impacted by substance use can promote several protective factors, including Parental Resilience through substance use and mental health services, and Social Connections through peer recovery groups. Illuminate will continue working towards the recommendations we made to the Interim Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee to advocate for broad systems of support and non-punitive strategies to respond to the unique needs of families impacted by substance use In addition, we will continue to advocate for increasing Colorado’s capacity to respond to the needs of individuals and families impacted by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). 

4. Establish, and connect long-term funding pathways to sustain and scale Illuminate Programs including but not limited to Family Connects; Healthy Families America; Circle of Parents; FASD Navigation, Support, & Training; and Child Sexual Abuse Prevention

Since founded in 2015, Illuminate has brought many evidence-based or evidence-informed programs to Colorado that promote protective factors to strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment. For example, Circle of Parents is an Illuminate program that promotes Parental Resilience, Social Connections, and Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development by offering a space led by peers for peers to share the joys and challenges of parenting and offer support. As we and our partners continue to expand programs like Circle of Parents across Colorado, we will continue to advocate under the Dome to fund family strengthening programs for all families, including those at risk of or involved in child welfare.

As we navigate the legislative session, we are excited to continue to share information about legislation that strengthens families, updates on our policy work, and opportunities to advocate for families. 

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