Expanding the Smart Choices Safe Kids Conversation Guide for Professionals on Substance Use, Children & Families Training to All Head Start Professionals

Expanding the Smart Choices Safe Kids Conversation Guide for Professionals on Substance Use, Children & Families Training to All Head Start Professionals

“We can reach thousands of professionals who serve families in America.”

– Jason Read, Senior Education Program Manager

As an early adopter of legal marijuana and edible use, Colorado has learned a lot of lessons about safe storage and safe caregiving, and about how to help caregivers take strides toward both. 

Our state saw a multiple-fold increase in hospitalizations due to accidental ingestions of marijuana products after legalization, which presented Colorado with a steep learning curve to identify strategies to keep kids healthy and safe. We’ve made leaps and bounds in prevention efforts, and we are ready to share our knowledge with other states that are now facing similar challenges and opportunities.

States that are now legalizing marijuana and edibles are in an excellent position to benefit from the lessons Colorado has learned and the knowledge base we’ve built. Through the development of the Smart Choices Safe Kids Conversation Guide Training, Illuminate Colorado has identified how family services professionals can help caregivers practice safe and informed caregiving and similarly empower those around their children to do the same. 

The Conversation Guide Training also works to help family services professionals move away from placing stigma and bias on substance use and toward a strengths-based, harm reduction approach that clears the way for preventionists to make effective progress with families. 

The commonality of substance use across the country makes the tools Colorado has developed around having conversations with families about substance use applicable to communities in every state. The recommendations around safe storage and safe caregiving are evidence-informed and acknowledge that the use of substances is common and can include over-the-counter, prescription, legal substances–not just illicit substances. Through universal discussions with all families on safe storage and safe caregiving, stigma and bias is reduced, creating space to work with families and build upon their strengths.

Illuminate Colorado is ready to help other communities hit the ground running when learning to equip families with the tools for safe caregiving.

Illuminate Colorado is partnering with the National Center for Health, Behavioral Health and Safety and Head Start to bring the Smart Choices Safe Kids Conversation Guide Training to Head Start professionals in the United States. 

Head Start and Early Head Start programs combine to serve families with children from before birth until the age of five. Supports include preschool, child care, home visiting programs, prenatal services, and health care services–and now, Head Start professionals will be equipped to have strengths-based conversations with families across the country about safe storage and safe caregiving.

Jason Read, Senior Education Program Manager at Illuminate Colorado, hosts up to 45 professionals in Conversation Guide Trainings twice a month.

After the training, professionals receive the Conversation Guide, 10 locking safe storage bags, parent handouts in English and Spanish, and ongoing support and consultation, no matter where they are located in the U.S.

The universal sharing of the safe storage bag with each family provides a prop for professionals to start a conversation on safety in general, and also provides an important tool for families to use to lock away substances or other items that may be harmful to children.

As a former Head Start Family and Community Partnerships Manager, Jason knows firsthand how important it is for family services professionals to be prepared to have conversations about substance use with all caregivers. Head Start families, like all families, need to manage the risks associated with substance use, and professionals need to know how to help them do so.

Jason explained that when he worked with Head Start, he would have benefited from the information and materials associated with the Conversation Guide, which would have helped to start conversations that he has since developed an instinct for and is now able to pass on to professionals across the United States through the Conversation Guide training.

Are you a Colorado-based family services professional outside of Head Start? We have Conversation Guide trainings for you! 

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Transformational Campaign Informs Colorado Parents “We Got UR Back”

Transformational Campaign Informs Colorado Parents “We Got UR Back”

The statewide effort aims to strengthen connections between families and communities.

DENVER, COLO. (May 22, 2023) – On June 1, Global Day of Parents, the Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families and Illuminate Colorado will celebrate with the launch of a multi-year, statewide campaign to reinforce the idea that it takes a village to raise a child, urging all Coloradans to provide support to those serving the crucial role as a parent. 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.

“Parenting is one of the most fulfilling roles we can take on, but also one of the most challenging,” said Illuminate Colorado Executive Director Jade Woodard. “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.” 

Nationwide studies have shown that connectivity with people and the community improves physical and mental health, happiness, and longevity for parents and children. A supportive network surrounding families helps reduce stress and fosters nurturing parenting habits and better outcomes for children.

To help build connections, Illuminate Colorado has redesigned its social connections website, www.coconnected.org, to be a valuable resource for parents and to provide tools for community members and partners who want to help them develop stronger connections. Visitors can see the stories of Noah and Lucinda, and Brisa, who share their parenting journeys of raising a child with disabilities and as a single parent.  

A pre-pandemic survey among parents in Colorado showed that one in five parents felt they had no one to turn to for day-to-day emotional support with raising children. In 2022, Illuminate Colorado conducted a statewide survey to understand existing perceptions among parents and community members about seeking support, offering support, and the importance of social connections.

Key Survey Findings:

  • 80% of respondents agreed that social connections benefit them and their families and that offering support to others grows a sense of community. 
  • 73% of respondents said they feel better when they have someone to talk with and believe that asking for support when they need it helps strengthen their family.
  • 82% of respondents agreed that it’s good when parents have someone to ask for parenting advice.

“Our research shows Coloradans want to provide support, but often don’t know where to start,” explained Woodard. “This campaign and our new website provide the tips and tools people can use to have a long-term impact on families and to create supportive communities we all want to be a part of.” 

About Illuminate Colorado:

Illuminate Colorado is a statewide nonprofit strengthening families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment. With a research-based approach that emphasizes building promotive and protective factors, we address systemic and multi-sector issues by collaborating with families and partners at the community, state and national levels to develop and implement powerful programs, policies and initiatives that build brighter childhoods in Colorado. Visit www.IlluminateColorado.org to learn more.

Campaign Partners:

Colorado Connected was originally established through the Colorado Essentials for Childhood project with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and support from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. In recent years, the Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families, with funding from the Colorado Department of Early Childhood and the United States Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, has worked to convene a diverse group of state, county, and community members to create updated campaign tools and to continue to address social norms significantly impacting families and communities, building resilience and preventing child maltreatment. Visit www.copartnershipforthrivingfamilies.org to learn more.

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Bloom Yoga Is for Everyone: Promoting Protective Factors in Colorado Professionals, Caregivers, and Kids

Bloom Yoga Is for Everyone: Promoting Protective Factors in Colorado Professionals, Caregivers, and Kids

Strengthening families requires a holistic approach.

It is critical to not only provide direct support to parents and caregivers, but also to ensure that the professionals who serve them are equipped with the self-awareness and regulation skills they need. 

That’s why Bloom Yoga, a program managed by Sarah Crisafi at Illuminate Colorado, offers supportive, trauma-informed yoga for anyone who plays a part in family strengthening. That means kids, caregivers, and professionals alike! 

Taking care of yourself is the first step in taking care of others.

Professionals have a lot on their plate. Helping families to work through a variety of difficult situations is mentally and emotionally draining. No professional should have to deal with stress on their own, which is why Bloom Yoga teaches skills that promote resilience– like self-awareness and self-regulation.    

The definition of yoga is to build connection or union.

Through Bloom Yoga, professionals gain the tools they need to connect with themselves, which allows them to build more meaningful connections with the families they serve.

It is important for professionals to have strong connection building, self-awareness, and self-regulation skills not only for their own mental health and wellbeing, but also so they can model these skills for families. 

When families see self-awareness and self-regulation skills modeled effectively, they are better able to be in tune with their own children and model these skills themselves. When professionals have the tools they need, everyone benefits.

Bloom Yoga is for everyone– even kids!

Bloom Yoga isn’t just for professionals. Sarah Crisafi also uses yoga to work with kids and families on strengthening the social emotional skills they need to thrive. When families participate in Bloom Yoga, they are having experiences that embody the protective factors.

Through the inherent skills built through mindfulness and yoga, Bloom Yoga gives caregivers the tools they need to interact with their kids in a meaningful way. Bloom Yoga allows time for connection, regulation, and co-regulation, skills which create an attunement between caregiver and child. Mindfulness and yoga can also create an environment where adults practice regulating their own stress, so they are better able to respond to children’s needs with compassion and empathy.  A well regulated adult will help to create a well regulated child. 

In the Bloom Yoga kids class, Sarah works with kids to build the social emotional tools they need to develop into healthy and thriving adults. Classes include the idea of being aware of feelings, understanding how the body reacts to those feelings, and then using tools to regulate or make changes if needed.  

Bloom Yoga addresses child maltreatment prevention from multiple sides by supporting not only the professionals who work with families but also parents, caregivers, and children alike. Bloom Yoga truly embodies Illuminate Colorado’s mission of strengthening families, organizations, and communities to prevent child maltreatment. 

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Reflecting on the 2023 Colorado Legislative Session

Reflecting on the 2023 Colorado Legislative Session

This legislative session, Illuminate Colorado advocated for 25 bills that would promote protective factors to prevent child maltreatment and strengthen families. These bills ranged across many areas of focus, including access to healthcare, 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 at Illuminate Colorado are grateful to our partners for their collaboration, leadership, and dedication to advocating for legislation that strengthens families and prevents child maltreatment.

Highlights from the 2023 session included:

  • In support of the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) budget request, Illuminate Colorado sought continuous funding for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Training. Included in the Long Bill (SB23-214), the legislature restored an annual $150,000 in funding to the Colorado Child Abuse Prevention Trust Fund for the purpose of Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Training. This funding dedicates resources to evidence-informed trainings that prepare adults with tools to prevent, identify, and respond to child sexual abuse. Interested in getting trained and becoming one of over 8,000 adults in Colorado committed to preventing child sexual abuse? Visit Tip Colorado to learn more about this free 2-hour training.

Visit Tip Colorado to learn more about the free 2-hour training.

  • Colorado banned use of corporal punishment in licensed child care settings, public schools, and group facilities. As one of Prevent Child Abuse America’s 2023 state policy priorities, eliminating the use of corporal punishment in schools, such as spanking and paddling, is an important step to shifting culture surrounding discipline and promoting positive responses and discipline strategies for children. HB23-1191 seeks to promote healthy child development and positive, evidence-based discipline approaches by eliminating use of corporal punishment in child care settings, public schools, and group facilities.
  • Legislators in Colorado focused on building sustainable funding and increasing access to vital healthcare for youth, pregnant people, and new parents who receive Medicaid through SB23-002, SB23-174, SB23-288, and HB23-1300. These bills will increase access to community health services, doulas during pregnancy and postpartum periods, and youth behavioral health services without a diagnosis, and will establish continuous eligibility for children ages 0-3. These bills aim to utilize evidence-based measures to reduce gaps in care and increase equity in the healthcare system for underserved communities that experience increased health risks due to social determinants of health, including racism and poverty.
  • Several bills sought to increase economic supports for families through Colorado’s tax code, including HB23-1006, HB23-1112, and HB23-1311. These bills will result in additional income for low-income families through increased awareness of vital tax credits, increased access to larger amounts in tax credits, and a ballot measure that, if passed, would result in a flat TABOR rebate for all Coloradans who file taxes.
  • Legislators also addressed concerns within the child welfare system, and passed several bills that clarify and enhance processes to increase kin placement and reduce family separation. HB23-1024 and HB23-1043 are two bills that will increase relative and kin involvement when a child is removed from home. In response to concerns that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) may be overturned later this year by the U.S. Supreme Court in a judgment on Haaland v. Brackeen, legislators developed SB23-211, which further implements ICWA and its related federal regulations into Colorado statute, in partnership with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.
  • The legislature aimed to increase equitable outcomes in eviction proceedings through HB23-1120 and HB23-1186. In recognition that the majority of people who face eviction do so without legal representation, these bills will make court and eviction processes more accessible by requiring mediation before an eviction is filed for people who receive cash assistance, including SSDI and TANF, and requiring remote options for court participation in eviction proceedings.

In doing so, these bills aim to increase participation of tenants in these processes and create additional opportunities for families to remain housed.

  • In addition to addressing child welfare through legislation, the Legislative Council approved a request to form the Child Welfare System Interim Study Committee. The committee is tasked with studying various topics, including prevention services, intervention services, system processes, social determinants of child welfare system involvement, and more. The committee will consist of 11 members of the legislature and may introduce 5 bills in the 2024 legislative session to address issues studied. We at Illuminate Colorado were grateful to be included in the list of agencies that may provide assistance and information to the Committee and are excited to lend our expertise to this process.

What’s next?

  • Advocate for family strengthening and policies that build protective factors to prevent child maltreatment through policy implementation activities.
  • Provide support and expertise to the newly formed Child Welfare System Interim Study Committee.
  • Provide support and expertise to the Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee.
  • Continue to identify family strengthening policy needs and challenges through the coalitions Illuminate convenes. Join us
  • Advocate for federal legislation that promotes and invests in programs that strengthen families, including advocating for the reintroduction and advancement of the FASD Respect Act.
  • Advocate for ballot measures that strengthen families, including Proposition EE resulting from HB23-1290, which would retain funding for Universal Pre-K.
  • Advocate for legislation that did not pass this legislative session, including policy that promotes economic security and substance free spaces.
  • Continue to collaborate with our partners in prevention and the Colorado General Assembly to advocate for future state legislation that promotes Illuminate Colorado’s policy priorities and mission to strengthen families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment.

Visit the full 2023 Legislative Session Recap to learn more about all the bills impacting family well-being that passed this session and what is next for Illuminate’s policy work.

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Illuminate Colorado Is Hiring A Strategic Initiatives Associate!

Illuminate Colorado Is Hiring A Strategic Initiatives Associate!

Are you looking for a position that will allow you to flex your coalition management and coordination skills?

This position is for you!

Under the guidance of the Strategic Initiatives Manager, the Strategic Initiatives Associate is responsible for managing logistics and coordinating tasks for coalitions and other collaborative spaces, with an emphasis on primary prevention of child maltreatment.

The Strategic Initaitives Associate will:

    • Provide meeting coordination and support for various collaborative spaces associated with the Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) grant and the Infant Safe Sleep Partnership and other Strategic Initiative efforts as needed.
    • Implement the Communications Plan for the Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems grant.
    • Support statewide stakeholder outreach and orientation to the ECCS grant project. Stakeholders include state agencies, community partners, and families. 
    • Coordinate event planning and logistics for related meetings, summits, learning sessions, or other events.

Click Here for the Full Job Description

Experience, Skills, and Qualifications:

  • One to three years of coordination or administrative experience, including communications support experience.
  • Experience working with coalitions and/or community organizing experience.
  • Experience coordinating research projects.
  • Strong attention to detail, superior task management and organizational skills.
  • Passion for supporting collaborative processes. 
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills. 
  • Commitment to advancing social and racial equity through collective action.
  • Demonstrated ability to establish and maintain highly collaborative working relationships with individuals of diverse professional backgrounds, technical expertise, and lived experience. 
  • Ability to balance multiple projects with shared deadlines while being responsive to emergent needs. 
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office (Excel) and G Suite. 


    • Experience and/or knowledge related to child maltreatment prevention, Strengthening Families protective factors, and/or maternal child health.
    • Experience working with a broad range of populations, particularly in a coalition capacity. 

Compensation and Schedule:

This is a full-time position eligible for benefits. Starting salary is negotiable and commensurate with skills and experience in the range of $40,000 – $50,000. 

Illuminate Colorado offers health and dental benefits as well as participation in a 401K, EAP, and Life Insurance benefits. In addition, Illuminate Colorado has an unlimited paid time off policy and offers both flexible scheduling and remote work. Residency in Colorado, or anticipated relocation to Colorado in the near future (at your own expense), is a condition of employment with Illuminate.

To Apply:

Please submit a cover letter, resume, and three references via email with “Strategic Initiatives Associate” in the subject line to hiring@illuminatecolorado.org.

Application Deadline:

5pm on June 7, 2023


We are dedicated to building a diverse, inclusive and authentic workplace, so if you’re excited about this role but your past experience doesn’t align perfectly with every qualification in the job description, we encourage you to apply anyway. 

Check out these other job postings!

Illuminate Colorado Is Hiring A Home Visitation Programs Manager!

Illuminate Colorado Is Hiring A Home Visitation Programs Manager!

Are you interested in the implementation and quality improvement of home visitation programs?   This position is for you! Under the guidance of the Director of Home Visitation, the Home Visiting Programs Manager will lead and support the State Intermediary functions...

Building a Family-Wellbeing System for Colorado Families: Updates from the Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families

Building a Family-Wellbeing System for Colorado Families: Updates from the Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families

Did you know that there’s an initiative right here in Colorado that is working to create the conditions that kids– and the adults in their lives– need to thrive? The Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families (the Partnership) has been working tirelessly to identify what Colorado communities need in order to be safe and supportive spaces for families. Illuminate Colorado provides backbone support for the Partnership, managing several projects and work groups that strive toward the coalitions’s mission. 

In April, the Partnership met to discuss exciting updates on work in specific priority areas, updates on cross-cutting projects, and to share presentations on how systems can be better aligned to effectively serve families. 

A few highlights from Illuminate Colorado staff and partners involved with the Partnership!

The Partnership has three priority areas, which Illuminate staff and partners shared updates on at the April meeting. 

Community Norms

Change community norms related to social connectedness and promote support offering and seeking behaviors in communities, with the intent to reduce parental stress and decrease child maltreatment.

Early Touchpoints

Strengthen the family well-being system service array to improve outcomes for parents and infants throughout pregnancy and up to age 1.

Systems Alignment

Align state and county human services, public health, and health care systems to place family well-being at the center.

Jillian Fabricius, Deputy Director of Illuminate Colorado, shared updates on Community Norms work, specifically the launch of Colorado Connected.

The campaign will partner with Colorado counties to distribute a validated community survey to understand attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors surrounding support offering and seeking behaviors. The goal of COConnected is to build connections that surround families with supportive networks, so parents do not feel alone when faced with challenges. Doing so creates a safe, stable environment for children to grow up in and produce positive childhood experiences and outcomes.

Angelica Fox, Director of Home Visitation at Illuminate Colorado, shared Early Touchpoints updates on Family Connects Colorado, a program that provides nurse home-visits and connection to community resources for new parents. 

At Boulder Community Health Hospital, the Boulder Family Connects team has reached 100% recruitment for families who are visiting to deliver a newborn. Additionally, the Boulder team is planning to expand into a second hospital in June! 

Next, Angelica shared that the Boulder team will be hosting their first Family & Caregiver Space in April, which provides an essential place for families to make their voices heard about the development and expansion of Family Connects.

“This is wonderful way for the Family & Caregiver Space to provide input for the program”

Angelica Fox

Director of Home Visitation

In Denver and Jefferson counties, a Community Alignment Specialist has been brought onto the Family Connects team, who will provide needed insight into the most effective resources to connect families with, as well as other program needs. Both counties are on track to launch Family Connects Colorado in early summer 2023!

In Eagle County, Family Connects is seeing high levels of recruitment, and the team is preparing to advance from the installation (or learning) stage into the implementation phase.

“We are learning a lot from Eagle as a rural area of how to implement [Family Connects] in similar communities.”

– Angelica Fox

Kendra Dunn, Director, Division of Community and Family Support at the Colorado Department of Early Childhood, shared Systems Alignment updates from the Government Systems Transformation Work Group.

The goal of the work group is to provide a space for government professionals to come together and get into the weeds about the ability that they have to make transformational change across systems. The Partnership is planning to host monthly meetings for the Government Systems Transformation Work Group to come together to collaborate around their collective power as government professionals. 

Courtney Everson, Senior Researcher/Project Director at the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab shared updates from the Financial Well-Being Work Group.

This work group has met since late 2022, and provides a space for various Colorado agencies, community-based organizations, and family leaders to identify opportunities for promoting financial-well-being among Colorado families. The Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab developed a Financial Well-being Data Brief, with input from the Partnership as an initial way to inform policy and practice. Feel free to use and share this brief widely!

Heather Hicks and Kaylie Weese, Family and Caregiver Space Leaders for the Partnership, shared updates on new family leadership spaces to be launched in May-June.

The Partnership Family Engagement Consultation Office Hours, led by family leaders, will be a collaborative space for family leaders and professionals standing up and sustaining local family engagement efforts. The Family Voice Affinity Space will be a space by family voice leaders, for family voice leaders. If you or someone you work with is interested in either space, please share your interest here. To get to know Family & Caregiver Space leaders, and share your questions and ideas on family engagement, please register here for our first information session on May 31st, from 4-5pm MT.

Stay updated on the Partnership’s work!

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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!


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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Looking Forward from Child Abuse Prevention Month: Strengthening Colorado Families is a Year-Round Effort

Looking Forward from Child Abuse Prevention Month: Strengthening Colorado Families is a Year-Round Effort

Colorado saw lots of wins for children and families during Child Abuse Prevention Month.

We advocated for family strengthening policies at the capitol, raised awareness for prevention efforts happening across the state, and raised funds for programs and services that help families thrive.

We kicked off Child Abuse Prevention Month at the Capitol.

We joined legislators in the Senate and House of Representatives as the Child Abuse Prevention Month tributes were read in both chambers, followed by an afternoon rally for supporters of prevention efforts across the state. If you weren’t able to join us, don’t worry– we took photos! 

We recognized leaders in prevention.

On April 13th, the Illuminating Leadership Awards were held at the celebratory Pinwheel Breakfast. Illuminate Colorado has annually honored the contributions of exceptional individuals, groups of individuals, and organizations who have furthered our collective mission to strengthen families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment. This year we celebrated some amazing recipients!

We advocated for family strengthening policies.

One of the biggest wins came when Governor Jared Polis signed HB23-1191 into law, which prohibits the corporal punishment of children in public schools, state-licensed child care centers, family child care homes, and specialized group facilities. HB23-1191 will create positive childhood experiences to enable families and communities to thrive!

But the work isn’t done! 

Child maltreatment prevention is a year-round effort, and here at Illuminate Colorado we remain committed to strengthening families, organizations, and communities every day. Join us by getting involved!

Register for a child sexual abuse prevention training.

Illuminate Colorado offers child sexual abuse prevention trainings for professionals, caregivers, and community members alike. Find your training today.

Learn how to create Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences (HOPE) for the kids in your life.

Research shows that positive experiences help kids grow up into healthy, thriving adults. Whether you’re a caregiver, professional, or community member, you can help create positive experiences for the kids in your life. Find your training.

Sharpen your self-awareness and self-regulation skills with a Bloom Yoga Class.

Bloom Yoga, a program managed by Sarah Crisafi at Illuminate Colorado, offers supportive, trauma-informed yoga for anyone who plays a part in family strengthening. That means kids, caregivers, and professionals alike! Interested in hosting a class? Contact Sarah Crisafi at scrisafi@illuminatecolorado.org.

Help to create spaces where families can thrive by getting involved in the work of the Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families.

The Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families (CPTF) has been working tirelessly to identify what Colorado communities need in order to be safe and supportive spaces for families. Learn more about the Partnership by visiting copartnershipforthrivingfamilies.org or how you can get involved by emailing Karci Lockwood at klockwood@illuminatecolorado.org!

Learn how to have conversations about safety and substance use with the families you serve.

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– that’s why Illuminate Colorado developed a conversation guide for professionals to use in talking to families about substance use and preventing child maltreatment. If you’re a professional who works with children and families, sign up to take the training today!

Stay up to date on legislation.

Advocacy work doesn’t end when the legislative session does! Be sure to stay up to date on policies affecting children and families by signing up for Illuminate’s Blog Newsletter.

Keep an eye out for volunteer opportunities by following Illuminate Colorado on social media.

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A Race to the Finish Under the Dome: Strengthening Colorado Families through Policy

A Race to the Finish Under the Dome: Strengthening Colorado Families through Policy

As Colorado is nearing the end of its legislative session, we at Illuminate Colorado are continuing to advocate for family strengthening at the capitol.

While several bills have already crossed the Governor’s desk, many are still making their way through the legislative process.

Two of Illuminate’s priority bills have already been signed by Governor Polis.

HB23-1006 will require employers to notify employees of the availability of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) to increase awareness of these crucial economic supports. In addition, Illuminate was invited to witness the Governor’s signing of HB23-1191, which prohibits corporal punishment in public schools, licensed child care settings, and group facilities.

Governor Jared Polis signs HB23-1191, accompanied by Representative Regina English.

Left to right: Illuminate Deputy Director Jillian Fabricius, Representative Regina English, and Illuminate Policy Manager Lex Loutzenhiser.

Many bills that Illuminate supports have passed the House and Senate and are awaiting the Governor’s signature.

HB23-1187 would expand access to alternative sentencing options for pregnant and postpartum people, increasing access to medical and behavioral healthcare and reducing family separation. 

SB23-002 would enable Colorado Medicaid to reimburse community health workers services, which are integral to enhancing equity and access to healthcare. 

SB23-211 would adopt the Indian Child Welfare Act and related federal regulations into Colorado state law, strengthening tribal engagement in the child welfare system when indigenous children are removed from their home due to abuse or neglect.

HB23-1091 would continue the Child Care Contribution Tax Credit, which incentivizes individual investment in early childhood care and education.

HB23-1300 would require Colorado to seek federal approval to offer continuous eligibility for Colorado children ages 0-3 without annual redeterminations if they are initially eligible for Medicaid, reducing administrative burdens and gaps in coverage for young children.

We’re still watching several bills that are scheduled or waiting to be scheduled in committees or on the floor this week.

HB23-1112 would increase the amount families can receive through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), enhancing families’ financial wellbeing. 

HB23-1120 would require landlords to engage in mandatory mediation before filing an eviction against a tenant who receives cash assistance, including Colorado Works (TANF) program participants, increasing equitability and accessibility in eviction processes for low-income families.


SB23-288 would strengthen the process for Colorado to begin reimbursing doula services through Medicaid to expand access to these supportive and culturally responsive services for pregnant people and postpartum parents.

Use the Illuminate Colorado Bill Tracker to stay up to date on the progression of bills that we are tracking through May 9th, the final day of Colorado’s legislative session.

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Strengthening Colorado Families Impacted by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) through Policy

Strengthening Colorado Families Impacted by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) through Policy

In the US, 1 in 20 school-aged children are estimated to have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs).¹ FASDs are caused by prenatal alcohol exposure and can result in a wide range of mild to severe symptoms, including intellectual and learning disabilities, difficulty paying attention, vision or hearing impairment, language and speech delays, and more.²

Although FASDs impact thousands of Colorado families, many have limited access to information, diagnostic resources, and healthcare providers who are knowledgeable about these conditions. Policy change is needed at a state and federal level to ensure children and families have the resources and support needed to thrive.

Early Identification Strengthens Families

Knowledge of parenting and child development is one of five research-informed protective factors to strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment.³ FASDs are often misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed, inhibiting a child’s support system, including their parents, healthcare providers, and school, to help a child reach their full potential. When families and support systems have access to early intervention and information about how FASDs may impact a child’s development, they can better respond to a child’s needs and prevent child maltreatment. Policy change is needed to ensure all families impacted by FASDs have access to these vital services for children and families. 

How Can Policy Change Support Families Impacted by FASDs?

With such limited awareness among communities, service providers, schools, and other systems that frequently interact with children with FASDs,  there is tremendous opportunity for comprehensive legislation to address gaps in awareness and resources for families and children. Policy change is needed to:

    • Expand funding for FASD prevention
    • Enhance research efforts to increase understanding of FASD
    • Expand funding to increase access to early intervention and treatment
    • Train a widespread range of youth-serving professionals, including child welfare, medical, behavioral health, school, early childhood, and juvenile justice system professionals

In 2022, FASD United and its state chapters, including Illuminate Colorado, advocated for the FASD Respect Act, which would have expanded the federal response to FASD as a public health issue, including by establishing grant programs to meet the needs of people with FASDs. Unfortunately, this bill did not pass. FASD United is working to introduce the FASD Respect Act 2.0 during the 2023-24 federal legislative session. Illuminate Colorado and our network of Colorado FASD advocates will stay engaged to advocate for the success of this groundbreaking legislation.

Hear from Colorado FASD Awareness Advocates

Marilyn Fausset, M.Ed, Co-Chair FASD Awareness Work Group:

“What made it so hard for our family was that not a single medical or behavioral health professional was knowledgeable about fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD); none realized that prenatal alcohol exposure was at the root of the problems for my child. Finally, I educated myself and sought out a provider able and willing to diagnose for FASDs. We finally got a fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) diagnosis at age 23. This diagnosis led to the developmental disability (DD) services my adult child now receives. It is sad that we received so many incorrect diagnoses, which led to inappropriate interventions and delayed DD supports.”

Domenica Steele, MA, LPC-C, Co-Chair FASD Awareness Work Group

“I have nine children, five of whom have an FASD. My triplets were identified young and received early intervention services including speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and developmental intervention. I am convinced those services have changed the trajectory of their lives for the better! In addition to being an adoptive mother to children with an FASD, I am also a professional supporting families affected by FASD. 

Caregiver distress rates are very high among caregivers supporting individuals with an FASD and part of the reason is struggling to obtain services for their family, managing difficult behaviors, and having limited resources available to them. Early intervention is critical not only for the affected child but for the whole family system. Accessibility to early intervention supports the whole family and helps families build a strong team of professionals for support and guidance.” 

To learn more about the Colorado FASD Awareness Work Group, please contact Kelli Sutton, Strategic Initiatives Manager, at ksutton@illuminatecolorado.org.

Kelli Sutton

Strategic Initiatives Manager


List of CO providers equipped to diagnose under the FASD umbrella.

Get a diagnosis of a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) for yourself, your child or loved one here.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Data & Statistics on FASDs. Retrieved From: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/data.html
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Basics about FASDs. Retrieved From: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/facts.html
  3. Center for the Study of Social Policy. (n.d.) About Strengthening Families and the protective factors framework. Retrieved From: https://cssp.org/our-work/projects/protective-factors-framework/
  4. Seibert, J. H., Council, C. L., Besser, A. J., Hinde, J. M., & Karon, S. L. (2019). Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: Policy challenges and opportunities. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE). Retrieved From: https://www.rti.org/publication/fetal-alcohol-spectrum-disorders

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