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Bring statewide attention to what babies and families need to thrive at Strolling Thunder Colorado – by Jacy Montoya Price

Join families and child advocates from across Colorado on Saturday, September 21 for the StrollingThunder Colorado rally and march. We’ll convene at 9:30 am at the Spring Cafe (1373 Grant St.) with our strollers, wraps and baby carriers to bring attention to the health and well-being of pregnant people, infants and toddlers. We will then march around the Capitol to remind the Colorado legislature to #ThinkBabies for stronger families, vibrant communities and a prosperous state. Register today to join the fun!

The Strolling Thunder rally will kick off with a performance by the Seven Falls Indian Dancers, who will also lead our stroll around the Capitol. Before and after the march, enjoy refreshments provided by the Spring Café and visit with community organizations that serve families with infants and toddlers.Strolling Thunder Colorado is an annual event hosted by the Raise Colorado coalition, the Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance (ECCLA), the Colorado Association for Education of Young Children (COAEYC), the Colorado Children’s CampaignClayton Early Learningthe Denver Affiliate of the Black Child Development InstituteGuerrilla Mamas, and Think Babies. This year’s event incorporates babywearing with And Carry ON! And Carry On! brings to light a way of life for caregivers and babies to conveniently work and grow. Creating a shared experience to teach and learn through original baby magic!

Early experiences shape how a baby’s brain develops, laying the foundation for future learning, behavior, and health. Join us on September 21 to bring statewide attention to what babies and families need to thrive at Strolling Thunder Colorado.

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Opportunities to engage in Colorado’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee – by Samantha Espinoza

During the 2019 legislative session, the legislature passed and Governor Polis signed HB19-1122 to strengthen Colorado’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee (MMRC). Now, the Maternal Mortality Prevention Program at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is working diligently to implement the provisions of the bill, including formalizing the MMRC and developing a report on the causes of and recommendations to prevent maternal mortality in Colorado, which will be submitted to the legislature by July 1, 2020. Interested community members have at least two opportunities to engage in the work of the Maternal Mortality Review Committee:

    1. Help identify the causes of individual maternal deaths by serving as a member of the MMRC. CDPHE is accepting applications for MMRC members, including current resume/curriculum vitae and three references, now through August 15, 2019. Applicants who represent diverse communities with regard to race, ethnicity, immigration status, English proficiency, income, wealth, and geographic region of the state, as well as those who are affected by higher rates of maternal mortality and by a lack of access to the full scope of maternity care health services, are strongly encouraged to apply.

Applications will be reviewed to ensure an optimal mix of expertise and experience on the committee and members will be confirmed by October 1, 2019. The MMRC will meet frequently from October through early 2020 to review each case of maternal death in Colorado, to fully understand what happened, and to honor each life that was lost. If you have questions or would like more information about the MMRC and application process, contact Shivani Bhatia at shivani.bhatia@state.co.us.

    1. Help identify solutions to reduce Colorado’s maternal mortality and morbidity rates by participating in stakeholder engagement events. After the MMRC has reviewed each case of maternal death in Colorado, CDPHE will look to stakeholders to inform recommendations and strategies to prevent maternal deaths and improve the health and wellbeing of pregnant and postpartum people in Colorado, based on the causes identified by the MMRC. CDPHE expects to bring stakeholders together in early 2020 to analyze the findings of the MMRC and prioritize recommendations to be submitted to the legislature in July 2020. To express an interest in this opportunity, contact Shivani Bhatia at bhatia@state.co.us.

If you have an interest in maternal health and helping to reduce Colorado’s maternal mortality rate, we encourage you to share your experience and expertise with CDPHE as a member of the MMRC or as a stakeholder influencing the recommendations made to the legislature. Your voice matters!

The Raise Colorado Coalition also offers an opportunity for maternal health advocates to speak up through its Infant and Maternal Mortality Workgroup, which is working to identify legislative and other policy recommendations to reduce infant and maternal mortality rates in Colorado, and to shrink disparities impacting communities of color and rural families. To learn more about and join Raise Colorado’s Infant and Maternal Mortality Workgroup, contact co-chair Sam Espinoza at samantha@coloradokids.org.

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Colorado Babies Cry Out for Policy Changes – By Charlotte M. Brantley

Too many young children show up to kindergarten without the skills they need to continue learning. While Colorado has made tremendous investments in early childhood through programs like the Colorado Preschool Program, which helps prepare young children for success in school, the science is clear — we need to start even earlier.

In fact, decades of research indicate that the earliest years of life — from infancy through age 3 — are a period of exponential brain development, shaped by the relationships and environment in which a child is growing.

Early experiences in the lives of infants and toddlers shape their brain architecture, laying the foundation for later learning. Without positive experiences that create strong foundations, learning gaps appear early, sometimes detectable before a child’s first birthday. While parents and caregivers have the most critical role during this opportune time, we believe that we all have a part to play in helping our families prepare Colorado’s kids for the future.

The State of Babies Yearbook: 2019, developed by ZERO TO THREE and Child Trends, shows us that the state babies live in makes a big difference in their chances for future success. The numbers show that Colorado is on the right track in providing the supports that our youngest constituents need to thrive, but it’s clear that we still have a lot of room to improve. That is why Clayton Early Learning has partnered with the Colorado Children’s Campaign and ZERO TO THREE’s Think BabiesTM campaign to help policymakers understand how we can better support all pregnant people, infants, toddlers and their families so that all Colorado families thrive.

Colorado ranks highly compared with other states, because it is above average in many indicators. But being better than average is not enough. Almost one in three Colorado babies lives in a family without enough income to make ends meet.

 

When families have limited economic and social resources, they cannot provide their babies with the nurturing experiences needed for their healthy development.

 

One in eight Colorado babies already has two or more adverse experiences. Surrounded by an environment of stress and uncertainty, children can experience health and developmental challenges and delays. But positive relationships and supportive communities can help buffer kids exposed to toxic stress from negative social, emotional, and cognitive effects, helping them grow up to become productive citizens. That is why we need today’s leaders to think about babies when shaping policies.

So many states, including our own, lack the policies and investments needed to support our youngest members of society. That needs to change, starting here and starting now.

No matter where they live in our state — the plains, mountains, rural areas or urban centers — children need high-quality support for development. However, in many communities, parents and caregivers struggle to find affordable, quality child care that would allow parents to work or go to school while providing children with early learning experiences to nurture their development. Approximately 96 percent of Colorado’s low- and moderate-income infants and toddlers do not receive direct child care assistance, while the average cost of care would eat up more than half of a single parent’s paycheck.

To bridge the gaps to ensure that every Colorado infant and toddler has what they need to thrive, and to serve as a model for other states facing similar challenges, we need solutions that focus on infants and toddlers, like investments in child care for working families and more preventive medical care for moms and babies.

 

We must make babies a priority through policies built on the science of brain development and budgets that put babies and families first. Babies are born with unlimited potential — helping them thrive from birth to age 3 sets a strong foundation for the rest of their lives. Children who are healthy — socially, emotionally and physically — are more likely to become healthy, stable and successful adults. Investing in the well-being of the next generation by ensuring that all babies have good health, strong families and positive early learning experiences, benefits us all.

 

Charlotte M. Brantley is President & CEO of Clayton Early Learning, a non-profit organization that provides national leadership to advance the field of early childhood education. Myra Jones-Taylor is Chief Policy Officer of ZERO TO THREE, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life.

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For dwindling middle class, lack of affordable child care burdens Fort Collins families, employers The Coloradoan

If it feels like you are making decent money but still living paycheck to paycheck, you probably are.

Despite one of the most robust economies in the U.S., Colorado’s middle class is shrinking faster than the rest of the country, according to a recent study by the Bell Policy Center that shows Colorado’s middle-income families are struggling to make ends meet.

Jobs are plentiful, but raises haven’t kept pace with housing and health care costs. The availability and price of child care is pushing young families’ budgets to the brink.

It’s a “befuddling contrast of a top economy with a shrinking middle class,” the Bell Policy Center said in its study. Achieving and living a middle-class lifestyle in Colorado may no longer be as simple as earning a mid-range income.

The middle class — defined by the Pew Research Center as those earning two-thirds to twice a defined area’s median household income — shrinks substantially when it includes being able to afford “aspirational costs” such as saving for retirement and college, buying a home and taking vacations, expenses that were once mainstays of a middle-class life.

Fort Collins’ housing woes are well documented. Median home prices inch toward $500,000, and median monthly rents top $1,300, forcing half of Fort Collins families to spend more than 30 percent of their paychecks on housing.

MORE ON HOME PRICES:Home sales slow as prices soar beyond $400,000

More than 30 percent of Colorado’s middle-class families have no children living at home, but the other two-thirds that have kids are struggling to balance budgets without making trade-offs, according to the Bell Policy Center.

Coupled with high housing costs, the lack of available and affordable child care is a major barrier keeping many young families from achieving a middle-class lifestyle, according to Talent 2.0, a collaboration of Northern Colorado businesses, government agencies, nonprofits and chambers of commerce, which sees the issue as a major barrier to attracting and retaining top talent.

What child care costs

The median household income for a family of four in Fort Collins in 2016 was $85,000. By Pew’s definition, that means middle-class earners here would make between $56,666 and $170,000. It’s a wide range that can make a difference in one’s ability to buy a house, pay for child care, save for college and retirement and take a modest vacation every now and then.

Today, according to Bell, achieving a middle-class lifestyle typically requires:

  • A two-income household
  • At least one graduate degree
  • At least one income from a management or professional occupation that pays well above median wages

While the quickest path to the middle class takes two incomes, two working parents need someplace reliable to leave the kids.

And full-time child care can cost between $730 and $1,200 or more per month, depending on whether it’s home-based or center-based care. Infant care is even more expensive.

In Larimer County, more than 80 percent of women and 95 percent of men ages 25 to 44 work, according to a Talent 2.0 white paper on child care in the county. Without child care, there’s no chance of employment, the paper states.

But the cost of child care for one kid takes about 18 percent of a family income, based on the 2015 Larimer County median income of about $65,000. The percent goes up to 37 percent of income for two kids at the same median income.

Acknowledging the cost of child care is out of reach for many families, Talent 2.0 says addressing the problem “is critical to maintaining a healthy economic environment. We will neither attract nor retain a quality workforce in coming years unless we address the issue of access to affordable, quality child care now.”

It’s not just a family problem, said Katie Watkins, community outreach director for Base Camp, a before- and after-school program for children in Fort Collins.

“We all depend on someone who depends on child care,” she said.

Watkins sees the problem from an employer and employee perspective. She and her husband, Steven, pay $1,700 a month — about the same as their mortgage — for child care four days a week for 4-year-old Emmaline and 2-year-old Esmae.

She knows many co-workers at Base Camp can’t afford the cost of child care and worries some may have to find higher-paying jobs or stay home with their children.

The hippocampus also is smaller in size, which adversely affects memory.

“If we get the treatment to the child, what we find is there is this beautiful thing that happens called post-traumatic growth,” Bennett said. “If we heal the biological injury of trauma, not only do we re-correct that brain structure, you can do this at any age, but because the young brain is developing so rapidly, the earlier we get the treatment, the more effective and quickly the treatment will take hold.”

A key piece to mitigating these problems includes promoting prenatal care to create a biological environment for the brain to adapt or grow in a healthy way, and also creating trauma-informed schools.

“By the time these kids reach graduation in an average high school, two out of every three kids will have had experienced a trauma in their life by age 18,” Bennett said. “Too many of those go untreated.”

Pam Walker, the ECHO and Family Center council director, said without identification and intervention, children will struggle in school from the beginning.

She asked guest legislators, political candidates and even voters in the audience to support children and to invest in the very young when allocating available funds.

The ECHO and Family Center Early Childhood Council of Fremont County since 1976 has served infants, toddlers and preschool children through a collaborative early childhood system that addresses gaps in services and funding for children prenatal to kindergarten entry and their families.

They address learning and development, family support and parent education, and health and well-being through a number of programs and events.

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Congrats to ECHO and Family Center Early Childhood Council on a successful legislative symposium! The Colorado Children’s Campaign’s weekly KidsFlash newsletter

Studies show that children who experience childhood trauma, including physical, emotional or sexual abuse, can sustain lifelong, devastating impacts on their developing brain, especially when trauma happens in the home.

Matt Bennett, who is an author and trainer, spoke about adverse childhood experiences and children’s ability to thrive during the ECHO and Family Center Early Childhood Council Legislative Symposium on Thursday at the Abbey Events Center.

“The young child’s brain is programmed genetically to reach out for mom, for dad, for other people in the home for support or love, and if anger or hurt comes back, it devastates that young brain,” he said. “Also, neglect is so important. Nothing is more vulnerable in the animal kingdom than a newborn child.”

Bennett said when help and support are not available, or if a child goes to bed hungry, the young brain thinks it’s a life-or-death situation.

He said children who experience abuse potentially can develop cancer, lupus and audio-immune issues; they are 2.5 times more likely to fail a grade during their school years; it makes them more vulnerable to being hurt in the community; it raises their rate of experiencing addiction by five times; they’re 4,000 times more likely to inject drugs in their lifetime; they’re more likely to experience homelessness and to struggle socially and/or be in a domestic violence relationship; they’re more likely to struggle with unemployment; and they’re more likely to have an unintended pregnancy or develop an STD.

“One of the most tragic things about this thing that happens to children is it also threatens to take 20 years off their life expectancy,” Bennett said. “We know that kids that this happens to, especially repeatedly, have a life expectancy of only 60 years.”

Family disruptions — homelessness, untreated mental illness, domestic violence, poverty, addiction — can also wreck the development of the brain, he said.

“There is a biological injury that if not treated, this kid will carry on through their life,” he said. “The pre-frontal cortex in kids with trauma is actually physically smaller, and if not treated, they’ll carry that less cognitive ability and emotional control into adulthood.”

Because the amygdala, the emotional part of the brain, is actually larger in size, children see more fear, are scared more often and they’re more apt to jump into the fight or flight response.

The hippocampus also is smaller in size, which adversely affects memory.

“If we get the treatment to the child, what we find is there is this beautiful thing that happens called post-traumatic growth,” Bennett said. “If we heal the biological injury of trauma, not only do we re-correct that brain structure, you can do this at any age, but because the young brain is developing so rapidly, the earlier we get the treatment, the more effective and quickly the treatment will take hold.”

A key piece to mitigating these problems includes promoting prenatal care to create a biological environment for the brain to adapt or grow in a healthy way, and also creating trauma-informed schools.

“By the time these kids reach graduation in an average high school, two out of every three kids will have had experienced a trauma in their life by age 18,” Bennett said. “Too many of those go untreated.”

Pam Walker, the ECHO and Family Center council director, said without identification and intervention, children will struggle in school from the beginning.

She asked guest legislators, political candidates and even voters in the audience to support children and to invest in the very young when allocating available funds.

The ECHO and Family Center Early Childhood Council of Fremont County since 1976 has served infants, toddlers and preschool children through a collaborative early childhood system that addresses gaps in services and funding for children prenatal to kindergarten entry and their families.

They address learning and development, family support and parent education, and health and well-being through a number of programs and events.

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Send us a message to find out
more about Raise Colorado or
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Early Childhood Council Legislative Symposium: Trauma can cause lifelong effects to brain – The Canon City Daily

Studies show that children who experience childhood trauma, including physical, emotional or sexual abuse, can sustain lifelong, devastating impacts on their developing brain, especially when trauma happens in the home.

Matt Bennett, who is an author and trainer, spoke about adverse childhood experiences and children’s ability to thrive during the ECHO and Family Center Early Childhood Council Legislative Symposium on Thursday at the Abbey Events Center.

“The young child’s brain is programmed genetically to reach out for mom, for dad, for other people in the home for support or love, and if anger or hurt comes back, it devastates that young brain,” he said. “Also, neglect is so important. Nothing is more vulnerable in the animal kingdom than a newborn child.”

Bennett said when help and support are not available, or if a child goes to bed hungry, the young brain thinks it’s a life-or-death situation.

He said children who experience abuse potentially can develop cancer, lupus and audio-immune issues; they are 2.5 times more likely to fail a grade during their school years; it makes them more vulnerable to being hurt in the community; it raises their rate of experiencing addiction by five times; they’re 4,000 times more likely to inject drugs in their lifetime; they’re more likely to experience homelessness and to struggle socially and/or be in a domestic violence relationship; they’re more likely to struggle with unemployment; and they’re more likely to have an unintended pregnancy or develop an STD.

“One of the most tragic things about this thing that happens to children is it also threatens to take 20 years off their life expectancy,” Bennett said. “We know that kids that this happens to, especially repeatedly, have a life expectancy of only 60 years.”

Family disruptions — homelessness, untreated mental illness, domestic violence, poverty, addiction — can also wreck the development of the brain, he said.

“There is a biological injury that if not treated, this kid will carry on through their life,” he said. “The pre-frontal cortex in kids with trauma is actually physically smaller, and if not treated, they’ll carry that less cognitive ability and emotional control into adulthood.”

Because the amygdala, the emotional part of the brain, is actually larger in size, children see more fear, are scared more often and they’re more apt to jump into the fight or flight response.

The hippocampus also is smaller in size, which adversely affects memory.

“If we get the treatment to the child, what we find is there is this beautiful thing that happens called post-traumatic growth,” Bennett said. “If we heal the biological injury of trauma, not only do we re-correct that brain structure, you can do this at any age, but because the young brain is developing so rapidly, the earlier we get the treatment, the more effective and quickly the treatment will take hold.”

A key piece to mitigating these problems includes promoting prenatal care to create a biological environment for the brain to adapt or grow in a healthy way, and also creating trauma-informed schools.

“By the time these kids reach graduation in an average high school, two out of every three kids will have had experienced a trauma in their life by age 18,” Bennett said. “Too many of those go untreated.”

Pam Walker, the ECHO and Family Center council director, said without identification and intervention, children will struggle in school from the beginning.

She asked guest legislators, political candidates and even voters in the audience to support children and to invest in the very young when allocating available funds.

The ECHO and Family Center Early Childhood Council of Fremont County since 1976 has served infants, toddlers and preschool children through a collaborative early childhood system that addresses gaps in services and funding for children prenatal to kindergarten entry and their families.

They address learning and development, family support and parent education, and health and well-being through a number of programs and events.

contact us

Send us a message to find out
more about Raise Colorado or
follow us on social!

Read more...