Surveys and focus groups conducted with Colorado families demonstrated that Colorado parents were already struggling with social connectedness and asking for support even before COVID-19 impacted Colorado, and it is likely that this reality has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. With this in mind, this month’s Keeping Families Strong COVID-19 conversation focused on building social connections. Illuminate Colorado highlighted Colorado COnnected, designed to give Coloradans the inspiration, knowledge and tools to strengthen social connection among parents.
Katie Facchinello, communications director for Illuminate Colorado shared that "Colorado has been examining social norms associated with safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for children for many years. Asking questions about actual and perceived values, beliefs and behaviors associated with the prevention of child maltreatment and looking to close the gap between reality and misperception across different levels of community systems. While 50% of Colorado parents think other parents ask for help with parenting, the reality is that only one in five parents in Colorado reported asking for help with parenting and one in five said they have no one to turn to for day to day emotional support with raising children. These results have raised red flags dating back to 2016, long before the pandemic impacted Coloradans’ lives in so many ways. "
Town hall participants received a preview of the now LIVE Colorado COnnected blog which will highlight ways organizations and individuals are using the Colorado COnnected tools and building social connections right now.
"Creating social connection between community members these days requires getting connected online and offline carefully. According to community organizations in Colorado that have successfully brought community members together prior to the onset of the pandemic, individuals are generally more responsive to in-person invitations to events and programs. However, the need to physically distance and adhere to public health orders while still fostering social connections among parents requires innovation, creativity and a public will to prioritize keeping families strong right now" continued Facchinello.
Stephanie Henderson, director of child and family health and well-being for Early Childhood Partnership of Adams County (ECPAC) also shared how they have adapted their own efforts to foster social connections among parents during COVID-19 by hosting weekly virtual parent groups in English and in Spanish as well as a weekly Circle of Parents in Recovery group. Additionally, ECPAC is currently engaging in a campaign to shift social norms in their community around asking for help and reaching out to connect. Beth Crist, youth & family services consultant for the Colorado State Library also shared the many ways in which libraries are uniquely poised to and traditionally foster social connections between and provide support for families, sparking examples from other libraries in attendance about ways they have adapted their programming during the pandemic. Jefferson County Public Library started a Work From Home Facebook group and will be hosting a virtual booth at the Help Kids Thrive Conference and an outdoor StoryWalk®. Poudre River Public Library District is piloting a public office hours program to support caregivers with their children’s education and hosting activities for all ages, such as Brain Breaks and ‘Art-ober’.
Please find detailed notes from this month’s conversation here.
If you would like to get more involved in the Partnership work groups or continue to learn about building social connections and Colorado COnnected subscribe or update your content preferences and don't forget to REGISTER HERE to join us for the next Keeping Families Strong during COVID-19 conversation on Tuesday, October 27th from 3:00 - 4:00 pm!
The Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families works collaboratively across the State of Colorado to create the conditions for strong families and communities where children are healthy, valued and thriving.
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