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Ensuring the Colorado Shared Message Bank and a Community for Communicators Grows and Thrives

As many in the early childhood community know, the Early Childhood Colorado Partnership (ECCP) worked intentionally to advance the shared goals within the Early Childhood Colorado Framework for many years. Developing and sustaining a comprehensive early childhood system with children and families at the center was no easy task, and no one individual, organization or agency can do it alone. Together, their collective efforts facilitated numerous engagements and tools that continue to support families and organizations today. However, with numerous organizations focused on early childhood health and education, the ECCP Steering Committee decided earlier this year to discontinue the work and create space for others to grow and thrive.

As the ECCP dissolved, Illuminate Colorado, a statewide 501(c)3 organization dedicated to strengthening families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment, has stepped in to ensure that the Colorado Shared Message Bank and the community that ECCP supported for communicators focused on promoting research-based frames and messages proven to garner broad public support for issues connected to healthy early childhood development, the prevention of adversity, mitigation of toxic stress and promotion of resilience and strengthening families continues to exist and grow into the future.

The Colorado Shared Message Bank is a critical tool in the toolbox to aid people in shifting community norms, perceptions and policy toward embracing the importance of investing in children and strengthening families and communities. It is also product of a collaborative effort of many people trained to support partners around the state as they work to integrate the Shared Message Bank and communications best practices into their communications efforts with and on behalf of children and families. These mentors review partner materials and offer advice on framing to promote social change or engage Coloradans in services that strengthen families.  

As additional frameworks to support maternal health and child maltreatment prevention have been created in Colorado and the community focused on improving communications practices begins to reconvene to share what is working and learn from one another, Colorado offers a message of gratitude to the Early Childhood Colorado Partnership for providing the space and conditions for diverse partners across the comprehensive early childhood system – encompassing health, mental health, family support and early learning – to come together to identify common results, share best and innovative practices, and implement strategies to improve system effectiveness for and with child and family well-being.

Join the community of communicators to find support in promoting messages that strengthen families. 

Project: Kindergarten NOW! Coalition

Location of Messaging: Statewide

The Kindergarten NOW! Coalition is a group of partners working to advocate for fully funded full-day Kindergarten for all children who choose it in Colorado. 

The coalition utilized the All Together for Prosperity messaging as their headline for why Colorado needs to invest in full-day Kindergarten. 

Website: http://www.fulldayk.co/ 

Project: Assuring Better Child Health and Development (ABCD) Website

Location of Messaging: Statewide

ABCD updated its website and messaging and used the Shared Messages and Photo Bank to inform the changes. The About Us section of the website includes prosperity framing and explanatory language around the importance of child development. ABCD has also developed messaging which explains what developmental screenings are to support building understanding and clarity for those outside of the field.

In addition to the messages, ABCD incorporated the Guidelines for Visuals and the Photo Bank to inform stock photos on the website. 

Find the website here: www.coloradoabcd.org 

Project: CO4Kids Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Public Awareness Campaign

Organization: Colorado Department of Human Services

Location of Messaging: Statewide

In 2015, the Colorado Department of Human Services, in partnership with more than one hundred and fifty community partners throughout the state and Governor Hickenlooper, launched a multi-year Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Public Awareness Campaign to engage all Coloradans in the prevention of child abuse and promote the new Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (1-844-264-5437). 

Coloradans think Child Abuse and Neglect is a big problem. Why do we need to raise awareness? 

To build an evidence-based public awareness campaign, the Department conducted public opinion research in 2013 which serves as a baseline measurement for the effectiveness of the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Public Awareness Campaign. According to research, Coloradans were well aware child abuse and neglect is a problem, believing that one in four children experience abuse or neglect. More than half of Coloradans said they had personally encountered a child that they suspected was a victim of abuse or neglect and they said that they were very likely to report a litany of typical abuse and neglect situations.  

However, perceptions were very different from reality. Prior to the launch of the campaign the general public – friends, neighbors, community members – were not reporting concerns. It was estimated that 75% of reports of child abuse and neglect in Colorado came from mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect, 15% came from family members, and only 10% came from the general public. 

The primary goal of the campaign is to encourage all Coloradans to play a role in the prevention of child abuse and neglect by reporting all concerns to the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline and getting involved to help Colorado’s kids. This comprehensive effort includes shared messaging, grassroots outreach, media relations, billboards, television commercials, social media, and extensive toolkit materials to help campaign partners raise awareness. Every year, the campaign reaches over one million impressions, encouraging Coloradans to get involved and play a role in the prevention of child abuse and neglect. 

This campaign website is intended to help you:

  • better understand the legal definition of child abuse and neglect in Colorado,  
  • recognize the signs and behaviors associated with the various types of child abuse and neglect,
  • know what happens after you call the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline, 
  • learn how to prevent child abuse and neglect, and
  • help people who want to get involved connect with local organizations making a difference in Colorado communities. 

Contact us to learn more at www.co4kids.org 

Collateral:

Parenting Flier

Ways to strengthen families

Let’s have a real conversation about the struggles of parenting 9news interview

Employers play a role in strengthening families.  (Speech by Laura Love of GroundFloor Media, April 2018)

We all play a role in strengthening families in… (Highlights from press event for Child Abuse Prevention Month, April 2018)

We are live kicking off Child Abuse Prevent Month in… (full press event for April)

Project: Looking to the Past to Shape Colorado’s Future Report

Organization: Early Milestones Colorado

Location of Messaging: Statewide

Early Milestones Colorado released a report detailing Colorado’s remarkable progress in early childhood over the past three decades. Looking to the Past to Shape Colorado’s Future: 30 Years of Progress for Young Children and Families covers the considerable accomplishments Colorado has made in health and well-being, learning and development, family support, and education. It highlights policies for state leaders to consider for work that remains.

Shared Messages are woven throughout the report, but are especially key in the introduction and framing of the report.

Collateral:

Executive Summary

Full Report

Lessons Learned & Policy Considerations

Project: Promises for Children

Organization: United Way of Weld County Promises for Children

 

Location of Messaging: Weld County

Promises for Children is using the messaging in banners, ads, flyers, posters and social media. They are integrated into general campaign messaging to be consistent as well.

Materials: 

Sample Banner/Flier

 

Project: Early Childhood Mental Health Colorado Website

Organization: Colorado Department of Human Services–Office of Early Childhood

Location of Messaging: Statewide

 

Children’s social-emotional development begins at birth with relationships and experiences they have right from the beginning. With secure and loving relationships and positive experiences, children develop a foundation of mental health that supports them throughout their lives. For more information about this important topic and to view helpful resources please go to earlychildhoodmentalhealthCO.org. The website contains a toolkit of materials including fact sheets, videos, posters, social media content, brochures and more to help professionals learn more about social-emotional development and early childhood mental health, offer tips on how to support healthy social-emotional development in early childhood programs and support communication and outreach to families.  Materials are available in Spanish and English and can be customized for local organizations.

Collateral: all materials can be found at earlychildhoodmentalhealthCO.org

 

Project: Clayton Early Learning Holiday Card

Organization: Clayton Early Learning

Location: Statewide/Online

We used shared messaging in our holiday card to promote and celebrate the notion of shared prosperity. The card is intended for a range of audiences, so we used the message of shared prosperity to recognize all stakeholders and their contributions to our work in early childhood.

Project: Shared Messaging in Grand County

Organization: Grand Beginnings

Location of Messaging: Grand and Jackson Counties

Grand Beginnings has a total of seven banners that are included on their website, each one addressing one of the primary messages in the Shared Message Bank. Clicking on one of the banners redirects to Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child for more information. The website is available to those seeking more information about Grand Beginnings, so these messages are able to reach a wide range of people.

The messaging is also included in their Early Childhood Mental Health brochure, which touches on topics such as resilience as a skill and childhood mental health. These brochures are available to parents and caregivers and are distributed on both an individual basis and through our partners in childcare, educational services, and healthcare services.

Collateral: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local Collaboration to Enhance Prevention Efforts Through Shared Messaging

Shirley Ritter directs Kids First, an early childhood resource center serving Pitkin County. Read her reflection on promoting local collaboration for preventive efforts and how Kids First used Early Childhood Shared Messaging as a tool to support these efforts.

by Shirley Ritter, Kids First in Pitkin County

“We live in such a beautiful place. Look at the blue sky, the aspen trees, the mountains, even the babbling rivers; what could possibly be stressful about living here?”

This is often the first response I get from community members when I begin a conversation about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) or toxic stress. No matter where you live, we know that young children are at risk for stress, triggered by multiple sources, that can have life-long consequences. We also know that with supportive, responsive relationships, these effects can be prevented.

I’d thought about this issue, and worked with other local agencies to plan for prevention programs for children and families; our agency also provides family education based on “emotion coaching” and the work of John Gottman. It still felt like this issue was not getting the attention it deserved. When I heard about the efforts of the Early Childhood Colorado Partnership (ECCP) to share common messaging across the state, that partners have been working on positive and effective messages, and that there was a mini-grant available, I was sold.

We used the mini-grant funds to pay for a graphic artist who used beautiful pictures of children incorporated into the shared messages developed by ECCP and stakeholders, who by the way know a considerable amount more about this topic than do I! The shared messaging having to do with children who thrive, about prosperity, and about resilience really resonates with families. I am writing this in the hope others might be inspired by have done in other communities; that we will all approach families in a way that shows we understand. Toxic stress is described as prolonged adversity, such as physical or emotional abuse, chronic neglect, caregiver substance abuse or mental illness, exposure to violence, and/or the accumulated burdens of family economic hardship—without adequate adult support. In addition to the ECCP, there is a wealth of information at Center for the Developing Child at Harvard to help you understand and convey important information about what children need to thrive.

Our next steps included adding a page to our website with basic information, local resources, and websites with helpful information for families. We used the materials we developed on social media, local newspaper advertising, and on our website.

I asked our local partners that serve children, youth and families to link to our webpage and share our message on their social media. There seems to heightened awareness lately for prevention programs, but not everyone knows just how young that starts, or exactly what that could look like. I am a big believer in collaboration, and this effort has reinforced that for me, and given us all so many ways to paint the picture of what it looks like for kids to thrive in our communities, and our state! Let me know what you’ve found to be successful so we can continue to share in this success.

Reach out to Shirley at shirley.ritter@cityofaspen.com

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