Monthly Archives: January 2021

Advancing Child-Focused Policies in 2021

As we head into the 2021 legislative session, we know this last year has been especially difficult for children and families and they need to be prioritized now more than ever. Due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, there is still uncertainty around the process and priorities of the upcoming legislative session. Although Colorado’s economy has shown marked improvement, the uncertainty underlying economic forecasts coupled with potential federal stimulus will determine just how much can be accomplished in this legislative session. With this in mind, and considering input from other stakeholders, the Kempe Foundation has identified a list of child-focused issues that may be considered by the Legislature this session and are of interest to the Foundation.

  • Domestic Violence added to Children’s Code: Douglas County Human Services in partnership with Colorado Counties Inc is bringing forth legislation to define domestic abuse in the children’s code with the goal of capturing the emotional and psychological impact this behavior can have on children. The Kempe Foundation is part of a stakeholder group working on a draft bill.
  • Child Protection Ombudsman: The Child Protection Ombudsman Office plans to pursue two bills this session. First, they would like to introduce legislation that will allow the Ombudsman Office to access data held by the Child Fatality Review Team at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) so they can better address how to prevent child fatalities moving forward. The second bill would protect the Ombudsman Office and staff from having to disclose work products and also be subject to subpoenas to testify. We support both of these bill concepts.
  • Marijuana: Smart Colorado and Blue Rising are collaborating on a comprehensive bill to put in place stricter limitations on both the medical and recreational marijuana industry. Although not finalized, the legislation will seek to cap potency at 15%, control products and prohibit the use of butane, propane, and other carcinogens in marijuana products, require toxicology for all suicides and overdoses and accidental deaths, prohibit marketing to children, additional packaging requirements, and likely other provisions as well.
  • Behavioral Health: Access to behavioral health services is critically important, especially on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic which has caused increased trauma for children and families. In April 2019, the Governor created the Behavioral Health Task Force (BHTF). The Taskforce was charged with evaluating and setting a roadmap to improve the behavioral health system in the state. In September 2020, the Behavioral Health Taskforce released their behavioral health blueprint which included over 150 recommendations and findings. A main component of their recommendations is the creation of a Behavioral Health Administration (BHA). The BHA would be established as a central organization that threads together behavioral health services spread across multiple departments. This is intended to reduce fragmentation within the system and create a single point of entry for the consumer, as well as reduce administrative burden for providers.
  • Budget: Kempe also will actively engage and advocate for continued full funding of three programs the Kempe Center implements in partnership with the state: The Child Welfare Training System, SafeCare, and the CARENetwork.

The Kempe Foundation is committed to advancing child-focused policies. We will continue to provide important policy updates throughout the 2021 Legislative Session. To receive Kempe Advocacy Updates via email, please sign up here.

The Kempe Foundation Announces New CEO, Jon Kruljac

Kruljac brings nearly 30 years of past involvement with Kempe to his new role

AURORA, CO (January 5, 2021) – The Kempe Foundation is pleased to announce Jon Kruljac as the new Chief Executive Officer of The Kempe Foundation. Kruljac, a long-time advocate of the Foundation, is an accomplished, energetic and passionate leader with expertise in strategic planning and philanthropy.

“I am privileged to join such an esteemed organization that is leading efforts to achieve a safe and healthy future for children,” said Kruljac.

Kruljac has been involved with The Kempe Foundation for the last 30 years. He was first introduced to the Foundation in 1991 by Walt and Georgia Imhoff and has been a champion of their work ever since. He has remained involved with Kempe in a variety of capacities including serving as board chair and as an ambassador.

“I am honored that my journey has taken me full circle back to Kempe,” said Kruljac. “My vision for Kempe moving forward is to expand our reach and grow our spheres of influence, with the ultimate goal being for Kempe professionals to serve as many children in the community as possible.”

Prior to being named Kempe’s CEO, Kruljac had a successful career representing public companies in capital markets and investor relations spanning more than 30 years. In 1998, Kruljac started his own consulting company, Monarch Consulting Inc., where he worked with companies in women’s health care, life sciences and oil and gas exploration sectors. After merging his practice and becoming a partner at GVC Capital, he managed financing and investor communications for Colorado based oil and gas companies before retiring in 2019. In addition to his involvement with Kempe, Kruljac also served on the board of Invest in Kids from 2012 to 2020.

Kruljac follows John Faught in this position after his six years of leadership at the Foundation. Kruljac and Faught have successfully collaborated with one another over the last 25 years in a variety of capacities to further child abuse prevention and treatment efforts. Faught stepped down from his role as CEO on December 31, 2020 but continues his work with The Kempe Foundation as the Executive Director of Public Policy. He feels confident in Kruljac’s ability to move Kempe’s mission forward.

“He will make an excellent CEO. Jon has years of experience in the private sector raising funds, but more importantly, Jon has an extreme compassion for children,” said Faught.

While the Foundation is changing leadership, Kempe remains dedicated to their mission of working to achieve a safe and healthy future for children and families.