The Kempe Foundation Announces New Chief Mission Officer, Jeremy Stern

 AURORA, CO (May 18, 2021) – The Kempe Foundation is pleased to announce Jeremy Stern as the organization’s Chief Mission Officer. Stern brings 18 years of experience in the nonprofit industry with expertise in corporate development, fundraising and community engagement to this new role. As Chief Mission Officer, Stern will play a pivotal role in turning the Foundation’s vision into action.

“Jeremy’s commitment to our vision and passion for the cause is palpable,” said Kempe Foundation CEO Jon Kruljac. “We are so excited to have his fresh perspective, energy and diverse skillset on our team.”

Most recently, Stern served as the Director of Business Development & Public Relations for Mile High Behavioral Healthcare – metro Denver’s leading nonprofit provider of affordable, evidence-based behavioral health services. In this role, Stern led all development and marketing components, cultivated partnerships and organized fundraising and community events. Stern is most excited to bring his ability to form lifelong, impactful relationships to the Foundation.

As Chief Mission Officer, Stern will focus on building revenue to contribute to the financial stability of the Foundation. This includes communications, donor database management, events, corporate partnerships, community partnerships, annual giving campaigns and comprehensive digital and social media campaigns and products aimed at raising the Foundation’s profile. He believes collaboration is key to finding lasting solutions to complex issues.

“I feel so connected to the Kempe Foundation’s mission and I’m so honored I get to be a part of the team that builds it out and sees it through,” said Stern. “I look forward to implementing strategies to increase revenue, brand recognition and community support for the Foundation.”

In his free time, Jeremy enjoys spending time with his family, which includes his wife Emily, sons Jack and James, and his furry son, Murray. He serves as the Board President of Denver North Business Association as well as the co-chair the Tips & Leads Group of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce.

 

The CARE Network Expands its Impact Across Colorado

Since 2020, the Kempe Center’s Child Abuse Response and Evaluation (CARE) Network has undergone substantial growth. The CARE Network engages health care and behavioral health providers – pediatricians, family doctors, school nurses and more – with the best education and training on conducting medical exams and behavioral health assessments to identify signs and risks of child maltreatment or trauma. Established in 2019 to address a lack of access to expert evaluations in cities and towns across the state, the CARE Network continues to increase capacity and ensure quality care for Colorado’s children and families.

The inaugural group of providers, comprised of 30 medical professionals, received their first CARE Network training in May 2020. One of these providers is Dr. Mary Vader, DO, a pediatrician in Montrose, Colorado. Dr. Vader had a very strong relationship with the Kempe Center for many years before she was invited to join the CARE Network.

“I’m always interested in learning more about health and getting advice to bring back to my own practice,” said Dr. Vader. “I was excited to get involved.”

CARE Network providers meet annually to connect with the Kempe Center and participate in a training that incorporates the newest research on evaluating child abuse and neglect. The Kempe Center also regularly surveys CARE Network providers to understand their needs and adapt the training to provide the most relevant resources. In a survey distributed to the first cohort, many providers expressed an interest in increasing their behavioral health training.

“Behavioral health is definitely one of my weaker areas,” Dr. Vader said. “When I was studying years ago, pediatricians didn’t talk much about the social determinants of health.”

Though Dr. Vader has a behavioral health specialist at her practice, she was eager to broaden her knowledge. On April 29, 2021, the second annual CARE Network provider training focused on addressing this gap.

The second group of CARE Network providers received their first training May 2-3, 2021. Like the first cohort, this group of providers are located in cities and towns across the state. Unlike their predecessors, this group includes 17 behavioral health providers in additional to 20 medical providers. This cohort will join the Network with Dr. Vader and her colleagues this coming July for a follow up training.

Dr. Vader is thrilled to witness the expansion of the CARE Network’s expertise and resources. She is hopeful for the impact it will have in the state.

“One of the components of the CARE Network that I think new providers will find most useful is the mentorship that it provides. You feel like you are part of a community that’s doing the same thing you’re doing. It’s empowering,” said Dr. Vader.

As the CARE Network continues to grow, they are actively seeking to partner with community organizations and agencies across the state. These partnerships will allow the Kempe Center to create a broad field of health care and behavioral health professionals which will become an integral part of the safety net for children in Colorado.

“When we don’t have the resources, we go to the Kempe Center,” said Dr. Vader. “We can send over a report and get pretty instant expert feedback. We’re so far away from these accessing these resources in person, but the CARE Network makes it so much easier.”

By supporting The Kempe Foundation, you allow Kempe Professionals to continue forming partnerships and expanding their reach to benefit more children and families in Colorado. Click here to get involved today.

Elevating Expert Voices During Child Abuse Prevention Month 

During Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Kempe Foundation joins organizations across the country to share stories and strategies of child abuse and neglect prevention. This month is a meaningful opportunity for all of us to engage in conversations with experts, policy makers and community members about how we can work together to strengthen families to prevent child abuse and neglect. To elevate these important conversations, the Foundation connected with our Kempe Center experts to hear about their work and what Child Abuse Prevention Month means to them.

Rashaan Ford, MD – Child Abuse Pediatrician with the Kempe Center’s Child Protection Team 

The Foundation sat down with Rashaan Ford, MD to learn about the Kempe Center’s Child Protection Team. Ford serves as a pediatrician on the Child Protection Team, a multidisciplinary group that provides assessment and evaluation for children and families where there are concerns about maltreatment, abuse or neglect. 

Learn more about Dr. Ford’s work and the Child Protection Team below.

Dr. Kathi Wells on Child Abuse Prevention Month 

The Kempe Center‘s Executive Director Dr. Kathi Wells highlights a challenging year and for families. Dr. Wells emphasizes the importance of this work saying, “Kempe’s mission of strengthening families, communities and the systems that serve them is more vital now than ever.” 

As Dr. Wells says in the video above, “At Kempe, every month is Child Abuse Prevention Month.” Learn more about how you can continue participating in Child Abuse Prevention Month with the Kempe Foundation here.

 

Letter from CEO Jon Kruljac on Child Abuse Prevention Month

April represents renewal in many aspects of our lives, but for school age children it means the end of the school year is just around the corner. While we all long for a return to normalcy as vaccinations for COVID-19 increase and larger social gatherings become permissible, the stressors that many children have experienced during the pandemic are still prevalent in their lives. For many children, social isolation will increase as they lose access to many services and primary supports they receive during the school year.

As a society it is our obligation to protect children from harm and to do so we must first better understand responses to trauma and building resiliency in children to assist them in making progress both socially and academically. Kempe’s Trauma-Responsive Schools program provides interventions and services to school specialists, teachers, and staff to mitigate the impact of trauma and promote healing. One of our goals is to enhance opportunities for all Colorado children to be resilient and equipped to reach their full potential in and outside of school. We know that many children who have experienced trauma do build resiliency when presented with positive experiences. We can all be part of that positivity by fostering inclusion for all and promoting thriving, safe, healthy and nurturing environments through our relationships with children and in the community.

As we approach the mid-point of Child Abuse Prevention Month, it is important to remember the work to improve the well-being of children is pertinent every month of the year. While the heightened awareness during April leads to more discussion and action, we must continue to build on this momentum in the months ahead.

Please support the Kempe Foundation today and help us reach as many children and families as possible.  Thank you!

Updates from Under the Gold Dome

As of March 16, 2021:

The 2021 legislative session has officially entered its fifth week. There have been over 450 bills introduced with another 200-300 likely to be introduced before session ends this summer. Governor Polis and legislative leadership released the Colorado Recovery Plan, a $700 million package of stimulus funding for roads and bridges, small business support, revitalizing main streets, workforce development, broadband infrastructure, community supports, wildfire recovery and more. Key provisions include $5-$10 million for childcare capacity expansion, $8-$9 million for mental health screenings in schools, and $1-$2 million for the mental health hotline. 

LEGISLATION OF INTEREST

We have identified a list of child-focused policies that are of interest to the Kempe Foundation and are being considered by the Colorado Legislature this session. Below is an update on the status of these policy priorities:

HB 1099: Policies and Procedures to Identify Domestic Abuse.  Each year, approximately fifteen million children nationwide are exposed to domestic abuse and child abuse, which are often linked. In Colorado, nearly forty percent of child fatality cases reviewed by the child welfare fatality review team between 2014 and 2019 found domestic abuse to be a stressor. Due to the episodic nature of domestic abuse behaviors, it is challenging for child welfare caseworkers and others to connect domestic abuse to the harmful emotional and developmental impact on a child. Under current law, child welfare caseworkers do not have established training policies or assessment procedures to identify and assess situations when a child’s parent, legal guardian, or custodian exposes a child to their perpetration of domestic abuse. HB 1099 requires the department of human services to promulgate rules to implement assessment policies, procedures, and training for child welfare caseworkers to recognize and assess situations when a child’s parent, legal guardian, or custodian exposes a child to their perpetration of domestic abuse. The bill passed the House Public and Behavioral Health and Human Services Committee and is waiting to be heard in the House Appropriations Committee.

HB 1097: Establish Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) addresses multiple recommendations from the Colorado Behavioral Health Task Force (Task Force), created in 2019, related to the creation of a Behavioral Health Administration (BHA). The findings and recommendations of the Task Force indicate it is imperative to develop and implement an improved behavioral health system in Colorado. The BHA would be a single state agency to lead, promote, and administer the state’s behavioral health priorities. The bill requires the Department of Human Services (Department) to submit a plan for the creation and establishment of the BHA on or before November 1, 2021 to the Joint Budget Committee, and on or before January 30, 2022 to the Department’s committees of reference. The BHA under HB 1097 would prioritize all aspects of health, including wellness, and early interventions and supports that help people stay successfully and meaningfully connected to the community where they live, work, and play. There have been a handful of amendments clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the Department of Healthcare Policy and Financing and how they will navigate Medicaid and early diagnostic treatment for children. The bill passed the House Floor and is waiting to be heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Marijuana. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released a report in July 2020 that found a connection between high potency THC products and negative mental health outcomes. The developing brain is more vulnerable to the effects of THC, increasing the risk of addiction and other harm. As an organization dedicated to the safety and health of children, Kempe supports policies that address the growing risk of high potency THC products. Use of high potency products is also correlated with negative mental health outcomes such as anxiety, depression, and increased instances of psychosis and marijuana is the #1 substance found in youths age 15-19 who died by suicide. In response to these findings, 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. The bill by Representative Caraveo and Senator Lundeen has not been introduced yet, but Kempe does support bringing it forward. The proponents and industry have been engaged in negotiations convened by Speaker Garnett to see if a path forward can be found on the forthcoming legislation.

FY 2021-2022 Budget. The Kempe Foundation successfully secured restoration of the $300,000 cut for the CARENetwork compensation that occurred last year. The JBC also approved the full request for the Child Welfare Training System ($6,797,102 Total Funds) with the Division of Child Welfare and the full funding for SafeCare in the Office of Early Childhood.

GOING FORWARD/NEED TO KNOW INFO AND EVENTS:

The Joint Budget Committee has finished its initial figure setting and on March 19th received the March Revenue Forecast from Legislative Council Staff (LCS) and the Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB). Bottom line is the state revenues are in a much better place than this time last year. Both forecasts revised their General Fund revenue projections upward. OSPB increased their revenue projections for FY2020-21 up $425 million and up $390.6 million for FY201-22 compared to the December forecast meaning if the General Assembly held all appropriations constant to FY2020-21 levels, the legislature would have $5.29 billion more to spend or save in FY2021-22. The JBC is finalized the budget and plans to introduce the budget on April 5th.

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.