Kempe Launches New Ambassadors Group

This summer, Kempe launched Kempe Ambassadors, a group of individuals who have expressed support for the work of Kempe, and a willingness to introduce others to the organization and the cause of keeping children safe from abuse and neglect.

Kempe Ambassadors serve as advocates for Kempe in the community, attend quarterly events to learn more about The Kempe Center’s work, make a financial commitment, and help to grow Kempe’s network of support by connecting the organization with individuals and businesses in the community.

If you would like to learn more about Kempe Ambassadors, please contact John Faught at 303.864.5304.

Keeping Children at the Forefront of Marijuana Regulation

Since 2014, recreational use of marijuana has been legal in Colorado for people over the age of 21. This change does not come without potential consequences for our children.

Kempe continues to be at the forefront of discussions regarding regulation and legislation related to the safety, health and wellbeing of our children – particularly as Colorado determines how it will regulate this emerging industry.

“What is challenging about the recreational marijuana industry is that we don’t yet know the long term impacts it may have on our children,” says John Faught, Kempe’s President & CEO. “Right now, the state is trying to strike a reasonable balance between protecting the public and allowing this to be a viable, responsible industry.”

Kempe’s approach to public policy is to be balanced in its positions, but where children are concerned, the state must be vigilant about making sure we are keeping kids safe. With this in mind, Kempe advocated at the capitol this year for several laws to protect kids from the unintended consequences of marijuana.

Kempe worked closely with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to pass HB 1436 – prohibiting edibles from being in the shape of animals, fruit or humans. This bill was particularly important in the effort to keep kids safe as edibles can often be difficult for children to identify and are often similar in shape, taste and color to candy and other sweet treats. Dr. Des Runyan and John Faught both testified in support of the bill.

Kempe also worked with Smart Colorado to support SB16-080 – requiring any medical marijuana grow operation to be locked to restrict access to those under the age of 21 unless an individual is 18 years old and holds a medical marijuana card.

In addition, Kempe was again at the table crafting legislation to expand the definitions of “abuse” and “child abuse or neglect” in regards to children’s exposure to controlled substances. The final version of the bill won the support of the Cannabis Patients Alliance and the neutrality of the Drug Policy Alliance. Despite bipartisan support in the House and a 4-1 vote out of the Senate State Affairs Committee, this bill was killed before the end of the legislative session. This is an important issue that will continue to be a priority for Kempe.

Outside of the legislative session, Kempe has joined Children’s Hospital Colorado, Smart Colorado, Illuminate Colorado, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado Department of Revenue, the Governor’s Office, the Association of Police Chiefs, Healthier Colorado, the American Heart Association, local public health officials, and others to discuss a potential coalition focused on ensuring further marijuana regulations keep the health and safety of kids and families a top priority. The group is using these meetings to share information on local, state and federal legislation and policy related to marijuana.

Finally, John Faught was assigned to serve on two of the Marijuana Enforcement Division’s rulemaking work groups. One of the groups focuses on the testing, packaging, labeling and administrative process, while the other focuses on the legislative implementation of policy. MED conducted its rulemaking hearing on September 2, 2016.

As discussion and regulation of the industry continues, Kempe will identify other opportunities to engage on behalf of children and families. For example, the Kempe Center is working to identify potential research gaps and opportunities related to marijuana and kids and will seek funding for that research.

The Governor has set as a priority addressing the “grey” market in Colorado – legally home-grown marijuana that is sometimes sold illegally.

“The grey market presents a specific risk to children as it is more difficult to regulate and control,” says Faught. “We understand the rights of Colorado citizens to grow limited amounts of marijuana both as caregivers and for personal use, however these grey markets present an increase in exposure and sale to our youth. We hope Coloradans will support efforts to find a sensible and safe solution.”

Kempe Making a Tremendous Difference

Thanks to the work of thousands of individuals and organizations, including Kempe, the latest reports indicate a 40% reduction in child abuse and neglect nationally over the past two decades. While there have been tremendous advances to keeping children safe, there is still much more work to do.

The information outlined in this report shows the impact our staff is making. In the past year alone, Kempe has connected with hundreds of mental and medical health professionals, child welfare professionals, scholars and other organizations in the fight to end child abuse and neglect.

In FY 2015, Kempe staff made a tremendous difference including:

  • Providing clinical care services to 2,008 children and 632 adults
  • Securing $11 million in state grants
  • Publishing 28 articles and completing 10 research papers
  • Training 5,257 child welfare professionals

We encourage you to read more about our professionals and their impact in our 2015 Kempe CARES for Children Annual Report. Because of your support, we are able to continue this crucial work. Thank you for caring for children.

John D. Faught, JD, President & CEO, The Kempe Foundation
Desmond K. Runyan, MD, DrPH, Executive Director, The Kempe Center

Rendered Speechless – Remember Kempe on CO Gives Day!

Not long ago, a resilient Colorado family voiced their thanks and gratitude toward Kempe in helping their 10 year-old cousin find the strength to overcome the overwhelming obstacles she faced in childhood. The letter reads as follows:

“In June 2014, our family was introduced to The Kempe Center’s SafeStart Program. The staff were amazing; very warm, friendly, professional, always willing to lend a hand, and very genuine in helping children who have experienced neglect and abuse.

During the program, my cousin and I were truly blessed to work with a dynamic member of this team, who was always strong, honest, direct and an active listener. While she never provided us the “answers” to our varying situations or concerns; she had a way of making us think deeply, eventually teaching my cousin and I to become self-reflective when facing her situation. In that, my cousin learned how to be honest with herself, even when life gets too hard. Now she’s slowly beginning to acknowledge her issues and/or experiences, state her true emotions, forgive herself (when needed), and then form a plan of how to work through it.

It was nice to finally work with someone who makes you feel like a priority and is genuine in partnering with you to address difficult issues and discussions. It’s not often I am rendered speechless, however this exceptional Doctor has left a lasting impression on our family, which continues to help us reflect and grow.”

Kempe is steadfast in our commitment to ensuring an increasing number of families have the professional tools and meaningful support to overcome such adversity.

We urge YOU to donate and support Kempe’s cause on Colorado Gives Day, Tuesday December 8, by scheduling your donation HERE.

Marijuana Edible Rules – a Positive Step Forward for Kids

With Colorado’s groundbreaking decision to legalize marijuana came a wave of unintended consequences, namely an increase in the number of children who presented in emergency rooms with marijuana-related health concerns.

On Oct. 30, the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) took a step forward in addressing this issue by releasing new regulations regarding medical and recreational marijuana.

As the leader of an organization dedicated to the safety and health of children, I am particularly interested in the regulations regarding the labeling and packaging of edibles. By the nature of how edibles are marketed, they are more appealing to children. And, with more than 300 different marijuana-infused edibles on the market, and sales of more than 4.8 million edible products in 2014 alone, we need a clear way for parents, caregivers, teachers, law enforcement and children themselves to identify these products and prevent unintentional ingestion.

The new rules contain promising provisions to keep our children safe. By October 2016, edibles must be packaged in child-resistant packaging, and will include an easily identifiable Universal Symbol and warning to “keep out of the reach of children.”

We appreciate the work of MED as they prioritized the safety and protection of the public while considering the business interests of the marijuana industry. This is a difficult path and is complicated further by the fact that other states are watching Colorado’s every move in this area.

We won’t know how effective these new provisions will be until after they are implemented next year, but we are encouraged by the work of our policy makers in taking a positive step forward.

John Faught is President & CEO of The Kempe Foundation

Vote Yes on Proposition BB

Kempe cares about kids. That’s why we urge our supporters to vote YES on Prop BB on your statewide ballot this November. Voting YES on Proposition BB would allow the state to keep additional revenue from marijuana taxation in 2014. This money will be used to spend $40 million to fund school construction and $12 million to fund marijuana education, substance abuse treatment and prevention, youth mentoring services, and Future Farmers of America and 4-H programs at the Colorado State Fair. By voting YES on Proposition BB, we can ensure that all of the taxes collected from the marijuana taxes in the first year are used to benefit our communities. To learn more about Prop BB, go to www.voteyesonbb.org.

Impact of Domestic Violence on Parenting

How does being a victim of domestic violence affect parenting?

This is the question Kempe is researching as part of a systematic review of the literature, a rigorous analysis examining all previous related research in order to synthesize the results.

Leading the project is Dr. Antonia Chiesa, with Kempe and Children’s Hospital Colorado Child Protection Team, who says, “We want to find out if there are residual effects from domestic violence even after the violence stops. “Simply removing the victim from the situation may not limit the impact, ” Dr. Chiesa added.

This project, now in its second year, is the first systematic review conducted at Kempe. Kempe experts from cross disciplines have been involved including a social worker, mental health professionals, pediatricians and doctors. Kempe also engaged leading systematic review expert Dr. Sabine Maguire at the University of Cardiff in Wales to assist with the project.

The process involves sifting through multiple databases to find studies and articles related to this topic and conducting an initial review of every relevant abstract – the team found more than 4000.

After the initial review, the Kempe team scanned 400 full studies to determine if the information was specific to this topic – they found over 100 potential studies.

Next, the research team conducted a critical review of each study to ensure that studies met narrowly defined inclusion criteria. These criteria are developed in order to assess quality of the research and ensure that the study answers the specific question.

“This has been a huge undertaking with many people on our staff spending time outside regular work hours to complete the study,” Chiesa said. “As we examine the research, we are noticing a differences in parenting discipline and research design methods – all of which must be accounted for in our evaluation.” Results are not final as the review is not complete. Preliminarily, it appears that domestic violence victimization may impact parenting. The results of the review will explore how this occurs and the strength of current evidence.

Kempe is in the process of documenting the findings and expects to publish the results of the review in 2016.

SafeCare Colorado Program Expands to Nine Counties

Efforts to provide critical supports to at-risk families with children ages five and younger received a boost today with the expansion of SafeCare Colorado to nine additional counties.

The new counties served are: Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande, Saguache, Weld, El Paso, and Douglas.

SafeCare Colorado offers proactive in-home, voluntary services that support at-risk families in understanding the health, development and safety needs of young children. The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) program is one piece of Gov. John W. Hickenlooper’s multi-faceted approach to child welfare, called “Keeping Kids Safe and Families Healthy 2.0.”

“We are very excited about the opportunities that this voluntary program offers,” said Mary Anne Snyder, Director of the Office of Early Childhood for the CDHS. “Many families referred to the child welfare system are either screened out, or closed after assessment, without receiving services. We continue to be more proactive in helping families by expanding preventative programs throughout the state.”

SafeCare Colorado uses a nationally recognized, evidence-based, in-home parent education program to provide direct skills training to caregivers in the areas of parenting, home safety, and child health. Staff at the newly selected SafeCare Colorado sites will be trained in the fall and can take referrals from community-based organizations, child welfare services, and even parents seeking help.

New SafeCare Colorado Sites:

  • La Llave Family Resource Center – in partnership with Alamosa County Department of Human Services, Conejos County Department of Social Services, Costilla County Department of Social Services, Mineral County Department of Social Services, Rio Grande County Department of Social Services, and Saguache County Department of Social Services
  • Northeast Behavioral Health  – in partnership with Weld County Department of Human Services
  • Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains – in partnership with El Paso County Department of Human Services.

Expanded SafeCare Colorado Site:

  • The Family Tree (currently serving Adams County) – in partnership with Douglas County Human Services

CDHS is continuing its partnership with The Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect to administer SafeCare Colorado throughout Colorado. With the addition of these three new sites, the SafeCare program is now offered in 39 Colorado counties and two American Indian tribes.

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SafeCare Colorado Success Stories
Karla was struggling with communication with her son, especially when he was sad or upset. SafeCare Colorado helped Karla and her son by providing her with education and insights on her child’s behavior, health/illness and home safety. Since being a part of the program, Karla’s son’s school has noticed a positive improvement in how well he’s doing, and Karla says that all the tools she gained from SafeCare Colorado help her every day as a parent. She loves SafeCare Colorado and thinks every family should use it.

Peg agreed to participate in SafeCare Colorado because she wanted insight on how she could raise her two and half year old son and better handle his tantrums and defiant behavior. During a SafeCare Colorado session, the home visitor discussed the need for rules and consequences, which was a new concept for her. Peg had been in and out of foster care growing up and therefore did not want to enforce rules upon her son.

Peg was also surprised to learn that she could give out positive consequences; she only knew of negative consequences. For her homework assignment over the next week, Peg was to establish the rules that she wanted for her home, and provide positive consequences. Her plan was put into place over the next four weeks. Over that time, Peg reported a decrease in the number of tantrums and was pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

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This press release was released by the Colorado Department of Human Services Office of Children Youth and Families.

Help CARE for Children This Summer

Summer is a welcomed time of year. Many children look forward to spending days at the pool, playing at the playground and relaxing in the sun’s warm glow.

Summer also means most children are not in school, and the mandatory reporters – like teachers – are not in contact with at-risk kids. Communities across the country see a decline in the number of child abuse and neglect reports during the summer time. Unfortunately, we know abuse and neglect does not take a vacation.

Kempe urges you to be vigilant this summer and take extra steps to care for children by being a good neighbor, being a good friend and being a good family member. When you see a parent or caretaker who is stressed, step forward and offer to help by:

  • Asking how their day is going
  • Sitting and lending a listening ear
  • Offering to babysit
  • Helping with household chores
  • Lending support in other ways

These small gestures go a long way to ease stress and keep children safe. If you believe a child might not be receiving proper care or is being physically or emotionally harmed, Kempe urges you to share your concerns with a professional at the Colorado child abuse and neglect hotline, 1-844-CO-4-KIDS.

In addition, Kempe needs your support to continue its work through C.A.R.E – Clinical Care, Advocacy, Research and Education for the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. Please consider making a donation to Kempe to acknowledge the children we work to keep safe this summer and all year round. Donations can be kindly made online at http://www.kempe.org/donate/.

Sincerely,
John Faught, Esq
President & CEO of The Kempe Foundation

P.S. Every minute, a child in the U.S. becomes a victim of abuse or neglect. To learn how Kempe impacts children directly, please watch the touching Story family video here. With your support and vigilance, Kempe can continue to successfully care for children and families just like the Story family.

Advancing the Work to Identify Abdominal Injuries and Abusive Head Trauma in Child Abuse Victims

Abdominal and head injuries are significant indicators of child abuse, but often go undetected by emergency room doctors. In fact, an estimated 30% of children with abusive head injuries are sent away without a diagnosis.1 Even more, of all child abuse cases, an estimated 3% of child abuse victims have injuries to the liver.2

These startling statistics have prompted Kempe to take action to educate and share knowledge and tools with doctors to help them better identify abdominal injuries and abusive head trauma when a child first visits an emergency room or doctor’s office. By empowering doctors with this knowledge, we can keep children from suffering recurring abuse.

Abdominal Injuries

Liver lacerations and other injuries to abdominal organs are often a clear indicator a child has been abused. Unfortunately, doctors often miss these hidden signs of abuse because the injuries are not visible to the naked eye.

Dan Lindberg, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics at The Kempe Center and University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center shared significant findings related to abusive abdominal injuries in Clinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine. His research shows that while abdominal injuries are generally uncommon in children, many abused children often suffer from abdominal injuries. And, frequently doctors miss screening for abdominal injuries.

Since publishing this research, Dr. Lindberg has been working to share these findings with pediatricians and emergency room doctors across the country. One tool doctors can use to identify an abdominal injury is a blood test. This blood test can immediately alert doctors to the possibility of an abdominal injury – and raise concern for missed abuse.

This simple blood test could make the world of difference in keeping children safe and prevent them from suffering recurring abuse.

Abusive Head Trauma

Abusive head trauma is the leading cause of death among abused kids, killing one in five children who have this type of injury. Of those who survive, 8 in ten are left with permanent injuries.3,4

Dr. Lindberg and the team at Kempe are also making significant strides helping doctors identify children who have suffered abusive head trauma.

Because child abuse is hard to assess, doctors sometimes mistake abusive head trauma for the flu or illness, as the child’s only symptom is vomiting. Small signs like these often deter doctors from running more extensive tests like CAT scans or MRIs, even when there are other reasons to think about abuse.

Since 30% of kids with abusive head injuries are sent away without a proper diagnosis, Kempe is working to address this need. One of the identification tools Kempe is currently researching is FAST MRI. The FAST MRI has the ability to scan a child’s head in 3-5 minutes versus the 20-30 minutes a traditional MRI takes. Additionally, children would not be exposed to radiation through the use of a FAST MRI.

Kempe believes the FAST MRI can reduce the number of children who are sent away without a proper diagnosis being made. Once a proper diagnosis is made, children can receive proper treatment and begin to heal. It can save lives.

The Colorado Clinical Translational Sciences Initiative and The Colorado TBI Trust Fund recently provided funding that will enable Kempe to find a solution to address this gap in diagnosis.

Kempe is also partnering with Kohl’s Cares and Children’s Hospital Colorado on a public awareness campaign to prevent shaken baby syndrome, a form of abusive head trauma, called the Kohl’s Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention Campaign.

If you would like to support Kempe’s efforts in encouraging doctors to run blood tests to screen for liver lacerations or support our research to identify young victims with abusive head trauma through FAST MRIs, please consider making a donation to support our research and outreach.

Together, we are making a difference for children in Colorado and across the globe.

  1. Jenny C, Hymel KP, Ritzen A, Reinert SE, Hay TC. Analysis of missed cases of abusive head trauma. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association. Feb 17 1999;281(7):621-626.
  2. Lindberg DM, Shapiro RA, Blood EA, Steiner RD, Berger RP, for the ExSTRA investigators. Utility of Hepatic Transaminases in Children With Concern for Abuse. Pediatrics. Jan 14 2013.
  3. Barlow KM, Thomson E, Johnson D, Minns RA. Late neurologic and cognitive sequelae of inflicted traumatic brain injury in infancy. Pediatrics. Aug 2005;116(2):e174-185.
  4. Makoroff KL, Putnam FW. Outcomes of infants and children with inflicted traumatic brain injury. Dev Med Child Neurol. Jul 2003;45(7):497-502.