Updates from Under the Gold Dome: May 2019

The Kempe Foundation was very active in the 2019 Legislative Session introducing legislation, advocating for critical funding for Kempe programs, weighing in on important policy changes, and continuing to be a resource for legislators under the Gold Dome.

Although the session presented a new political landscape with Democrats in control of the Senate, House and Governor’s Office, we were able to garner bipartisan support for a number initiatives to improve the safety, health and well-being of children and youth across Colorado. Read on for a summary of our involvement.

Kempe Initiated Legislation

Spearheaded by Dr. Antonia Chiesa and CEO John Faught, The Kempe Center and Foundation partnered to pass House Bill 1133. This bill sponsored by Representatives Caraveo and Pelton, and Senator Fields creates Colorado’s Child Abuse Response and Evaluation Network (CARENetwork), a program to build local capacity to provide quality assessments for suspected victims of child abuse and neglect in their local communities. By recruiting designated providers from communities across the state and training them about the signs of child abuse, the CARENetwork aims to ensure all children for whom physical or sexual abuse or neglect may be suspected receive access to high quality medical evaluations and behavioral health assessments. It also ensures that designated providers will be equipped to provide families information about resources available to help address risks that may lead to abuse or neglect. The Kempe Center will serve as the Resource Center for the CARENetwork

Governor Polis signed House Bill 1133 into law on Thursday, May 23, 2019.  

Other Kempe Initiatives

Throughout the session, The Kempe Foundation tracked over 40 bills and joined coalitions to support the following legislation:

  • HB 1122: CDPHE Maternal Mortality Review Committee
    • Status – Signed by the Governor.
  • HB 1193 Behavioral Health Support for High-risk Families
    • Status – Signed by the Governor.
  • HB 1194: School Discipline for Preschool through Second Grade
    • Status – Signed by the Governor.
  • HB 1197: Protect Social Workers’ Personal Information on the Internet
    • Status – Signed by the Governor.
  • HB 1262: State Funding for Full-day Kindergarten
    • Status – Signed by the Governor.
  • SB 049: Statute of Limitations Failure to Report Child Abuse
    • Status – Signed by the Governor.
  • SB 177: Background Checks for Persons Who Work with Children
    • Status – Passed and waiting for Governor’s signature.
  • SB 195: Child and Youth Behavioral Health System Enhancements
    • Status – Signed by the Governor.

Additionally, Kempe supported an amendment by Rep. Singer to SB19-228: Substance Use Disorder Prevention, to require the Colorado Department of Human Services to conduct research concerning the incidence of prenatal substance exposure or related newborn and family health and human services outcomes. SB19-228, as amended, has been signed by the Governor.

Budget Priorities

The Kempe Foundation actively supported several budget items and was successful in securing funding for our various priorities. These included:

  • $6,776,141 for the operation of the Child Welfare Training System.
  • $6.2 million for additional child welfare caseworkers.
  • Continued funding for operations of SafeCare within the Office of Early Childhood in the Colorado Department of Human Services.

The budget was signed by the Governor on April 18, 2019 and goes into effect at the start of the state fiscal year – July 1, 2019.

Kempe’s Child Abuse Prevention Month Activities

The Kempe Foundation was active at the State Capitol promoting Child Abuse Prevention Month. We participated in the drafting and introduction of the annual resolution to recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month on the House and Senate Floor. Both Foundation CEO John Faught and Kempe Center Executive Director Dr. Kathi Wells joined for the presentation in the Colorado General Assembly.

We also participated in a press conference with Governor Polis to acknowledge his proclamation of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, and produced and distributed four one-page fact sheets to all one hundred legislators. The fact sheets included the announcement of Dr. Wells’ appointment as the Kempe Center Executive Director, as well as information on Kempe Center programs such the SafeCare program and ECHO Colorado.

Define Your Style to Support Kempe

J. McLaughlin in Cherry Creek North is hosting a shopping event to support Kempe on May 2 from 4 – 7 p.m. A portion of all proceeds will be donated to The Kempe Foundation.

J. McLaughlin is a destination for defining style. Resonating with a traditional yet discerning client, the J. McLaughlin look can be described as innovatively nostalgic. Stop by and check out the new collection for Spring.

30 Ways to Show Kids You Care

As children grow and develop, support and positivity in their daily lives mean a lot to them. It is important for parents, caretakers, neighbors, coaches and other adults to show children that they care. When a community invests in children’s mental, emotional and physical well-being, they are raised to be happy and healthy.

“Children thrive when they hear encouraging words,” says The Kempe Foundation President & COO Julia Stone. “Meaningful phrases like ‘I’m proud of who you are,’ ‘You are intelligent and kind,’ and ‘You can do this’ give children a sense of capability and self-worth.”

Communities can also support children by spending time with them, even if it’s just a few minutes.

“Many studies have shown that quality time is more beneficial for children than quantity,” says Stone. “Even if you only have 15 minutes, there are lots of ways to make the time you do have impactful. You can read a book together, make arts and crafts, play outside or just sit and have a conversation about life. Children feel valued when asked their day and how they’re feeling.”

Research also shows that affection and genuine displays of unconditional love make children happier and healthier. Children who have experienced affection and nurturing from a young age have shown more frequent levels of enhanced brain development throughout life’s growth stages. Simple ways to express positive emotions to children can include hugs, meaningful eye-contact, and words of admiration.

“When children are shown unconditional love, they are given a feeling of stability that enhances mental capacity,” says Stone. “Strong bonds with loved ones help shape children into more well-rounded and well-adjusted human beings. Just a little time and energy from adults in a community can truly change the life of a child for the better.”

Encouraging words, quality time and affection make a world of difference for children.

This April, as organizations across the country recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month, Kempe encourages communities to join it in raising happy healthy children.

Dedicating time each day to show that you care is the best way to raise happy healthy children. Download and hang this list on your refrigerator as inspiration. Each day, choose one of these activities to do with a child:

  1. Color with your child
  2. Give a hug just because
  3. Build a blanket fort together and hang out inside
  4. Say “I love you” at breakfast, lunch and dinner
  5. Take a walk together
  6. Let your child choose a game and play it with them
  7. Catch your child doing something right and celebrate them with verbal praise
  8. Plan a meal and cook it together
  9. Read a book together
  10. Tell your child a happy story from your childhood
  11. Do a craft together, and don’t worry about cleaning up the mess until the end
  12. Pack a picnic and go to the park together
  13. Take your child on a nature walk and play “I spy”
  14. Put your phone and electronic devices in “time out” for one hour
  15. Send your child a special card to open in the mail
  16. Let your child pick out a picture of him or herself to put in a frame in your house
  17. Ask your child where they would like to go and take them there
  18. Pack a love note in your child’s lunch
  19. Stop everything for 20 minutes and do only what your child wants to do
  20. Do a household chore together
  21. Create a scavenger hunt for your child and a friend around your neighborhood
  22. Do something kind for a neighbor together – like rake a lawn or bring them cookies
  23. Go to the museum together
  24. Take your child to the grocery store and work together to pick out the ingredients for a healthy meal
  25. Color the driveway with chalk together
  26. Play dress up together
  27. Tell your child specifically what is unique or special about them
  28. Offer a word of encouragement when your child tries something difficult
  29. Finger paint together
  30. Make funny faces together and laugh

Thank you for your commitment to protecting children and strengthening families.


Child Abuse, Neglect and Maltreatment: A Journey of Recovery

Helping children who are being abused or maltreated is one of the most challenging parts of being a pediatrician. In a new “AAP Voices” post, Andrew Sirotnak, MD, FAAP – Director of the Child Protection Team at Kempe/Children’s Hospital says it helps to remember how desperately children need trained physicians to help them and their families heal and thrive.

“As we evaluate and treat young patients with suspicious injuries, trying to make the difficult determination of whether human services should be involved, our overarching goal should be to prevent further harm,” he writes. Read the full article here.

Join us in asking legislators to ensure quality health assessments for child victims

Each year, there are more than 100,000 suspected cases of child abuse and neglect in Colorado. This number represents 100,000 children who deserve access to proper evaluation, diagnosis and care to ensure their physical and mental health and safety. Unfortunately, Colorado does not have the critical expertise throughout the state to provide this service.

The number of experts qualified to conduct these medical and behavioral health assessments is extremely limited. There are only six board-certified specialists in the field of child abuse pediatrics in Colorado. Five of these specialists live in Denver, and the other in Colorado Springs. Their distance to most of the state’s 64 counties limits the access our children have to expert evaluations following suspected abuse or neglect.

A new bill sponsored by Representatives Caraveo and Pelton, and Senator Fields aims to ensure all children who may have experienced physical, sexual abuse or neglect have access to high quality medical evaluations and behavioral health assessments.

HB 19-1133 creates Colorado’s Child Abuse Response and Evaluation Network (CARENetwork), a program to build local capacity by recruiting designated providers from communities across the state and training them to provide quality assessments for suspected victims of child abuse and neglect in their local communities.

These designated providers could include family care physicians, nurses, advance practice providers and behavioral health providers. Each provider will be required to complete advanced training on the signs of abuse and neglect, as well as the risk factors for maltreatment. They will also be equipped with education about the resources available to support families who present these risk factors. Not only will these providers ensure proper diagnosis and treatment, they will also serve as a bridge for families who need continued care by specialists or multi-disciplinary teams.

The CARENetwork will ultimately expand the safety net for children, and will likely contribute to a reduction in severe incidents of child abuse and neglect, including fatalities. If Colorado passes HB19-1133 and creates the CARENetwork, we will take a significant step toward improving the safety and health of babies, toddlers and young children in all Colorado communities.

Kathryn (Kathi) Wells, MD, FAAP
Executive Director | Kempe Center for the Prevention and

John D. Faught
Chief Executive Officer | The Kempe Foundation