Topic: In the News

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.

 

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.

 

An Update on Fostering Healthy Futures

 

For nearly two decades, Heather Taussig, PhD and her colleagues have produced promising results through the Kempe Center’s Fostering Healthy Futures program. Fostering Healthy Futures (FHF) is a positive youth development program that employs 1:1 mentoring, and group-based skills training to promote healthy youth development and reduce trauma-related symptoms and behaviors among youths facing adversity. Since the program’s launch, it has consistently progressed and promoted positive outcomes for children and teens in Colorado and beyond.

As the FHF program continues to evolve, we are optimistic about the new partnerships and funding sources that will bring more opportunities for its expansion. We recently connected with Jessica Corvinus, Director of Dissemination for the FHF program, to learn more about what’s ahead.

New Partnerships

For years, the Fostering Healthy Futures program has been a service provided directly through the Kempe Center. In order to expand the program’s reach to include more children, youth and families, FHF has shifted their focus to training, implementation and dissemination. 

In this growth phase, it is important that FHF is intentional about the organizations they select to be the stewards of the program. In order to identify sites that would execute this program successfully, the Kempe Center performs a readiness assessment on each prospective organization. This assessment accounts for the organization’s values, capacity and potential to successfully run and sustain the FHF program. 

Most recently, FHF has partnered with Colorado-based social services organizations Lutheran Family Services and Adoption Options. After being evaluated through FHF’s readiness assessment, these organizations were selected due to their enthusiasm, commitment and ability to successfully run the program. Following training from the FHF team, Lutheran Family Services and Adoption Options will begin implementing the program in the fall of 2021. 

Increased Funding

To ensure that new organizations are successful in their implementation of FHF, the Kempe Foundation has secured program funding from a variety of sources. One of these funding sources is the Tony Grampsas Youth Services Program Grant (TGYS) through the Colorado Department of Human Services. This statutory program provides funding through grants to local organizations for prevention, intervention and education programs to youth and their families. The TGYS grant will fund the implementation of FHF at Lutheran Family Services and Adoption Options in the fall, as well as support FHF staff through these training and dissemination efforts. 

In addition to the TGYS grant, FHF is hopeful that they will qualify for funding through the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA). In order to qualify for this funding, FHF had to receive a certain rating from the Title IV- E Prevention Services Clearinghouse – a rating system specifically designed for FFPSA. 

A program is rated on the quality of the program design and the outcomes of their studies and is reimbursed if they fit into the top two tiers of the rating system. The ratings include well-supported, supported, promising and does not meet criteria. Because the FHF Preteen program conducted two randomized controlled trials with demonstrated short- and long-term effects, it has been awarded a rating of well-supported, which should allow it to qualify for funding through FFPSA.

Looking Ahead

As we look to the future, we are hopeful that FHF will continue to expand to serve more children, youth and families across the country. In order to make this happen, FHF will need to build out a research and dissemination infrastructure to guarantee stable, successful growth. The Kempe Foundation is committed to supporting the Kempe Center as they advance this work. As the potential for more federal funding comes through FFPSA, it is incumbent upon the Foundation to raise money for FHF and the Kempe Center so that we can continue to provide youth with access to positive, empowering, and growth-promoting programming.

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.

The Kempe Foundation Announces New CEO, Jon Kruljac

Kruljac brings nearly 30 years of past involvement with Kempe to his new role

AURORA, CO (January 5, 2021) – The Kempe Foundation is pleased to announce Jon Kruljac as the new Chief Executive Officer of The Kempe Foundation. Kruljac, a long-time advocate of the Foundation, is an accomplished, energetic and passionate leader with expertise in strategic planning and philanthropy.

“I am privileged to join such an esteemed organization that is leading efforts to achieve a safe and healthy future for children,” said Kruljac.

Kruljac has been involved with The Kempe Foundation for the last 30 years. He was first introduced to the Foundation in 1991 by Walt and Georgia Imhoff and has been a champion of their work ever since. He has remained involved with Kempe in a variety of capacities including serving as board chair and as an ambassador.

“I am honored that my journey has taken me full circle back to Kempe,” said Kruljac. “My vision for Kempe moving forward is to expand our reach and grow our spheres of influence, with the ultimate goal being for Kempe professionals to serve as many children in the community as possible.”

Prior to being named Kempe’s CEO, Kruljac had a successful career representing public companies in capital markets and investor relations spanning more than 30 years. In 1998, Kruljac started his own consulting company, Monarch Consulting Inc., where he worked with companies in women’s health care, life sciences and oil and gas exploration sectors. After merging his practice and becoming a partner at GVC Capital, he managed financing and investor communications for Colorado based oil and gas companies before retiring in 2019. In addition to his involvement with Kempe, Kruljac also served on the board of Invest in Kids from 2012 to 2020.

Kruljac follows John Faught in this position after his six years of leadership at the Foundation. Kruljac and Faught have successfully collaborated with one another over the last 25 years in a variety of capacities to further child abuse prevention and treatment efforts. Faught stepped down from his role as CEO on December 31, 2020 but continues his work with The Kempe Foundation as the Executive Director of Public Policy. He feels confident in Kruljac’s ability to move Kempe’s mission forward.

“He will make an excellent CEO. Jon has years of experience in the private sector raising funds, but more importantly, Jon has an extreme compassion for children,” said Faught.

While the Foundation is changing leadership, Kempe remains dedicated to their mission of working to achieve a safe and healthy future for children and families.