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.