Families impacted by substance use face unique barriers and challenges to accessing support.

By promoting access to prevention programs and supportive services, we can build a foundation for families to thrive. This Colorado legislative session, Illuminate is at the capitol urging legislators to prioritize families impacted by substance use.

Preventing and Responding to Perinatal Substance Use

Across the United States, there is a continuous need to increase awareness, reduce stigma, and better support pregnant people who use substances to promote health and wellbeing for pregnant people, new parents, and infants. A recent report published by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment found that 89% of pregnancy-related deaths from 2016-2020 were preventable, with suicide and unintentional drug overdose being the leading causes of death for pregnant and postpartum people.¹

By building non-punitive, wraparound support for pregnant people and new parents, and building an infrastructure that empowers healthcare providers and community-based services to better respond to families impacted by substance use, we can prevent substance use and mental health-related deaths and promote happy, healthy outcomes for families.

Throughout the Colorado legislative session, Illuminate Colorado and our partners are informing legislators of the nature and impact of perinatal substance use and advocating for legislative change. Two bills emerged from the Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee that, among other provisions, would strengthen families impacted by substance use. HB24-1045 Treatment for Substance Use Disorders would invest in programs that prevent prenatal substance use by appropriating $150,000 to the Colorado Child Abuse Prevention Trust Fund for this purpose. SB24-047 Prevention of Substance Use Disorders, among other provisions, would invest in and expand the Perinatal Data Linkage Project, led and implemented by the University of Denver’s Colorado Evaluation & Action Lab. The purpose of the Perinatal Data Linkage Project is to track perinatal substance use and answer research questions to inform public investment, programs, and policies that strengthen families impacted by perinatal substance use.

The Illuminate Colorado Policy Team at the Colorado State Capitol.

Would you like to learn more about work in Colorado to respond to perinatal substance use? Check out SuPPoRT Colorado.

Responding to the Needs of Individuals and Families Impacted by FASDs

As the Colorado affiliate of FASD United, Illuminate also advocates for programs and policies that prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) and better serve families impacted. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders or FASDs impact thousands of Colorado families and result from a disruption in fetal development due to prenatal alcohol exposure. Families impacted by FASDs often report a lack of resources and supportive services, including lack of FASD-aware behavioral health and medical providers, caregiver supports, and education supports. 

This legislative session, Illuminate and FASD advocates have engaged with two bills that would increase funding to prevent FASDs and ensure individuals with an FASD and their families have access to knowledgeable professionals and affordable services. SB24-181 Alcohol Impact & Recovery Enterprise would create the Colorado Alcohol Use Prevention and Early Intervention Grant Program, which may be awarded to fund activities to prevent and respond to FASD in Colorado. 

Increasing Access to Child Care for Families Impacted by Substance Use

Parents and caregivers experiencing substance use and mental health challenges can face unique barriers to accessing treatment services and other supports. Research shows that difficulty finding child care is one of the strongest predictors of self-reported neglect among parents seeking substance use treatment, including severity of substance use and other mental health challenges.² However, in Colorado, only 3.1% of treatment providers provide child care to parents accessing treatment services.³

This legislative session, Illuminate supports HB24-1223 Improved Access to the Child Care Assistance Program, led by our partners at Healthier Colorado and Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition. This bill, among other provisions, would add enrollment in intensive outpatient or higher levels of substance use treatment as a qualifying activity to receive child care subsidies through the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). Illuminate has heard from families and treatment providers that the current CCAP work and education requirements are barriers for caregivers engaging in more intensive substance use treatment, as many may not maintain employment or higher education in order to engage in more intensive treatment. HB24-1223 would increase access to child care for families impacted by substance use by ensuring that caregivers receiving treatment services have increased access to CCAP.

Although HB24-1223 is an important step toward ensuring access to child care for families impacted by substance use, Illuminate recognizes that cost is not the only barrier to accessing child care for families. In order to better understand and eliminate barriers to child care access, Illuminate has advocated for a provision in HB24-1045. This provision would fund a stakeholder group that would be tasked with identifying strategies to increase access to child care for families impacted by substance use.

As the Colorado legislative session progresses, Illuminate will continue to advocate for legislative change that strengthens families!

Keep up with which bills we’re tracking and stay up-to-date on our policy work all year long!

  1. CDPHE (2023). Maternal Mortality in Colorado, 2016-2020. Retrieved from: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1L8YyFzO7MUKJuG17p2qa1O8mwTz_PR4T/view
  2. Cash, S. J., & Wilke, D. J. (2003). An ecological model of maternal substance abuse and child neglect: Issues, analyses, and recommendations. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 73(4), 392404. https://doi.org/10.1037/0002-9432.73.4.392.  
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2022). 2022 State Profile – National Substance Use and Mental Health Services Survey (N-SUMHSS). Retrieved From: https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt42713/NSUMHSS-State-Profile-22.pdf

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