Topic: Child Abuse and Neglect

An Update on Kempe’s Trauma-Responsive Implementation & Practice Program

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought persistent anxiety to Colorado’s children and families. In uncertain times like these, trauma-informed care is crucial. The Kempe Center has made great strides in training and implementing this necessary care through the Trauma-Responsive Implementation and Practice (TRIP) Program, led by Dr. Evelin Gomez. This program fosters healthy, safe and responsive environments in children, youth and family serving systems across the state. Over the past few months, TRIP has made some notable progress. The Kempe Foundation is pleased to highlight some of this progress below:

Colorado Cross-Systems Training Institute
In collaboration with the Office of Behavioral Health, The Kempe Center is implementing trauma-responsive trainings for the Colorado Cross-Systems Training Institute (CSTI). Using the TRIP model, Kempe professionals developed trauma-responsive content and coaching for CSTI’s wide-reaching audience. These instructor-led (currently virtual) and self-paced web-based trainings are targeted to all professionals who work alongside children. This spring, they will provide training and coaching for school professionals on the Trauma-Responsive Schools Theory of Change Toolkit they co-authored.

NCTSN Breakthrough Collaborative
On a national level, Kempe professionals participated in an 18-month collaborative led by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). This collaborative was a call to educators around the country to keep children in the classroom. Research revealed that referrals, the term used for sending children to the principal’s office, are not a trauma-informed practice. Kemper Elementary School, located in the Montezuma Cortez School District, was enthusiastic about joining this collaborative with the Kempe Center. Kempe provided coaching, consultation and training to the school’s staff on how to implement trauma-informed care into their discipline. When these trauma-informed, individualized strategies were put into place, the school’s referrals decreased by 80%.

Aurora Public Schools
Many schools have behavioral intervention plans (BIP) and functional behavioral analysis (FBA) approaches that aren’t fully trauma-responsive and culturally informed. To improve their practices, Aurora Public Schools invited Kempe professionals to direct a workgroup to overhaul their BIP and FBA systems. The intent is to implement strategies and procedures to focus on regulation and be more individualized, culturally responsive, and cognizant of students’ trauma backgrounds and triggers.

Rite of Passage
Rite of Passage is a nationwide network of residential treatment centers which provides programs that empower youth and families to succeed. The specific center, based out of Arizona center, serves as a home and school for children who have lived through adverse experiences. After doing an assessment of the organization’s needs, Kempe’s professionals recommended training everyone, from educators to case workers to cafeteria staff, on trauma-informed care. In order to make sure this education was thorough and sustained, Kempe trained managers, directors, and supervisors to provide ongoing trainings to staff and new hires.

Challenges for Future
Looking to the future, there are a few key challenges that Kempe professionals acknowledge. Implementing trauma-informed care requires organizational policy change. Without support from legislators, organizations don’t have the funds to support this work on their own. Further, there is much work to be done on identifying metrics and best practices for evaluation of trauma informed approaches, implementation and dissemination. To ensure that Kempe is able to address these challenges and continue this work, please consider donating to The Kempe Foundation. Your donation will go towards pushing child-focused policies forward, implementing trauma-informed care, and creating a better future for Colorado’s children and families.

Job Posting: The Kempe Foundation Seeks Chief Mission Officer

Are you “Our Person”? The Kempe Foundation is seeking a growth-focused leader, who is passionate about mission-driven work, to propel the Kempe Foundation in creating a seismic shift in addressing the wellbeing of children in the prevention of childhood trauma and imparting the most effective treatments for victims of child abuse and neglect.

Watch the message below from our CEO Jon Kruljac. If you feel he might be speaking to you, please reach out to us!

This role requires innovative thinking, collaboration, and determination to succeed. If you have the ability to turn vision into action, you may be our next Chief Mission Officer and play a pivotal role in achieving our vision for the future.

Our Chief Mission Officer will partner with the CEO to design and implement growth initiatives, including comprehensive digital and social media campaigns and products aimed at raising the organization’s profile, attracting new supporters, and increasing individual and corporate fundraising to further the mission. While you will be supported by our small but skilled team, you will be encouraged to take the lead implementing new ideas for fundraising, relationship building and increasing our brand awareness.

As a key leadership team member, you will be integrally involved in all activities to build and maintain revenue that contributes to the financial sustainability of the Foundation. This includes communications, donor database management, donor events, corporate partnerships, community partnerships, and annual giving campaigns.
To support you in your work, you will have access to our public relations firm who supports content creation, media relations, social media, graphic design, and creation of collateral.

Read the full job description and instructions for applying here.

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.

Kempe Advocacy Update: 2020 Election and Beyond

thumb

In every election cycle, we have the opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to children. By voting for child focused policies, we can ensure continued funding and investments in early childhood and healthy child development. These investments are essential for strengthening Colorado families. With the 2020 election now behind us, we’re taking a moment to highlight local election outcomes and the 2020-21 state budget, plus how it impacts Kempe programs and children and families in Colorado.

Ballot Measures  

Many statewide ballot measures were successful, including Proposition EE which provides funding for education and access to free preschool. The revenue from a tax increase on vaping and tobacco products would go to K-12 education funding, an additional amount to rural schools, affordable housing, eviction legal assistance, tobacco education programs, local governments, and to expand pre-school programming. Beginning in 2023, every child in Colorado would be eligible for 10 hours per week of free preschool in their final year before kindergarten. Kempe applauds the passage of Proposition EE.

FY 2021-2022 Budget

Within the FY 2021-2022 budget request, the Governor has recommended restoring the $300,000 cut from the CARE Network last year. This means total requested funding is $911,776 General Fund. The Child Welfare Training System also received the full $6,797,102 Total Funds and the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention Services, of which SafeCare is funded through a portion received $8,182,206 General Funds.  

The Joint Budget Committee commenced their briefing and hearing process on November 11th and will hear from each state agency about why their reuqests are critical. Our number one priority moving into 2021 is continuing full appropriations for Kempe’s state funded programs and partnerships. There is a lot of discussion percolating among stakeholders, agencies and legislators for improvement of behavioral health services.  

Moving Forward

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought Colorado to an inflection point in the care and protection of our children and families. It has hit our most at-risk communities the hardest. Children and families in many communities are experiencing increased stress from loss of income, instability in housing, distance from social supports and an increasing inability to cover their basic needs. Children who were once connected to social support systems through schools and nonprofit programs are now disconnected due to social distancing and funding cuts. As we look to the future, we expect an unprecedented demand for services to help children and families.

In response to uncertainties resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and other social unrest, Kempe is initiating new programs and expanding existing programs to address child trauma.  

  • CARE Network: The CARE Network was adopted by the Colorado Legislature in 2019 to build local capacity to provide quality medical and behavioral assessments for suspected victims of child abuse and neglect in their local communities, and ensures that designated providers will be equipped to identify child and family stresses that may lead to trauma. The designated providers will be equipped to provide families with information about local resources available to help them address these stresses. 
  • Trauma-Responsive Schools: Even prior to COVID-19, students who have experienced trauma were among the children experiencing the most challenges, in and out of schools. COVID-19 has created uncertainty, loss and fear, and has exacerbated inequities experienced by many families and their children. This uncertainty will likely increase the risk of long-term reactions for the children, families and school staff. The current challenging times may increase the ‘out of control’ behavior of students, as well as strain the self-regulation ability of staff to appropriately deal with behavior challenges. Through our Trauma-Responsive Schools program, we provide training to teachers, counselors, staff and parents to address these issues. We’ve continued to connect with school districts across the metro area about opportunities for Kempe’s Trauma Responsive Schools Programs. 

 

Q&A with Susan Payne, Founder of Safe2Tell

The Kempe Foundation 2020 Luncheon: Championing Healthy Childhoods will celebrate the professionals working every day to ensure children have the opportunity to develop and grow in safe, healthy and nurturing environments, and to inspire community action to keep children safe and healthy for generations to come.

One of those professionals is Susan Payne, a 28-year law enforcement veteran, retired special agent and Founder of the Safe2Tell prevention initiative, developed as a response to the Columbine tragedy. She is also Safe2Tell’s former Executive Director and Special Agent in Charge of Safe Communities and Safe Schools for the Colorado Attorney General and Department of Public Safety.

Susan, who was recently appointed to the National School Safety Task Force and is an Expert Adviser to the Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center, has worked extensively with the Secret Service on Protecting America’s Schools and participated in the Bystander study of 2004, the 2018 Secret Service Guide for Preventing School Violence, and the 2019 U.S. Secret Service Analysis and Comprehensive Study. Susan has been asked to speak at the White House on several occasions but most recently after the tragedy in Parkland. She also works with the Department of Homeland Security’s National Clearinghouse for School Safety.

We look forward to welcoming Susan as our 2020 Luncheon keynote speaker. In advance of the event, she is offering some insights into her work, experience and how Safe2Tell and other organizations, such as Kempe, are working together to provide our kids with safe schools.

What prompted you to start Safe2Tell, and how has it helped since its introduction in Colorado schools?

Susan: Safe2Tell was created out of necessity. After the horrifying shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado that left 15 people dead, many more wounded and countless others’ lives changed forever, Colorado’s Attorney General Ken Salazar and Governor Bill Owens convened a statewide study to develop a plan for preventing a shooting of this magnitude in the future. As a direct result, the Safe2Tell Initiative was created: To provide an anonymous venue for parents, students, teachers, school administrators, and law enforcement to share information.

Safe2Tell is the first framework for prevention and early intervention. The program helps identify and create a multi-disciplinary team in every school in Colorado. This unique, yet sophisticated approach enables information sharing between law enforcement and teams at schools with a systematic approach to accountability and follow-up. A core element is building a positive culture and climate and a protected method of communication for youth to share information concerning their safety or the safety of others.

One of the findings in our research showed that in 81% of violent incidents in U.S. schools, someone other than the attacker/actor knew it was going to happen but did not have an informed way to report it.

Safe2Tell has created a safe, anonymous mode for all individuals to report such information, and has helped to prevent not only school shootings, but also bullying, suicide, substance abuse and other health concerns.

I’m proud to say Safe2Tell is now keeping our children and schools safer across the entire state of Colorado.

What are you doing at schools with Safe2Tell?

Susan: If you want to truly focus on intervention and prevention, you have to start at the epicenter — schools. For a lot of kids, school is the only place they feel safe. Safe2Tell works proactively with schools to help its teachers, administrators and others, through extensive education, outreach, training, and presentations, to know the indicators and signs of potential violence and other youth concerns, to be knowledgeable about resources and how to intervene.
Safe2Tell also works very closely with other key stakeholders, like Kempe, which is making a crucial impact through research and multi-disciplinary approaches to find solutions to better protect our children and youth.

Together, we are truly creating an environment of ‘Not just see something, say something… but also adults DO something.’ There really is strength in numbers, and we want to educate as many people as we can, so these life-changing issues don’t get brushed under the rug.

What are we as communities, organizations and schools doing to prevent school shootings and accelerated mental health crises from happening?

Susan: Prevention is the key. Being informed on childhood trauma — how to prevent it and how to recognize signs of such trauma is absolutely necessary in order to educate and empower our youth on how to stay safe.

It’s really scary stuff but we’re trying to make it not so scary by offering practical and proactive intervention and prevention tips. By operationalizing those things, we can reduce the violence and number of traumatic events taking place in our schools.

What do you hope people walk away from your presentation having learned?

Susan: We can all agree that we don’t want bad things to happen to our children. The key is working together to intervene and prevent potential violence and other youth issues. Together, we can provide more hope and health. Most people truly want to make a difference, they just don’t know how. Our goal is to show them how.

Visit the Safe2Tell website to learn more about its programs. You can also hear Susan speak at Kempe’s 2020 Luncheon on Friday, March 13 in Denver. Tickets are available here.