"We all play a role in preventing child abuse and neglect." Perhaps you've seen a mobile billboard driving around town recently with this statement and the phone number, 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (1‑844‑264‑5437). Or maybe you were stopped on the street by someone handing out water bottles and window clings reinforcing the campaign messages. All are elements of a grassroots effort by the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) to ensure every person in the state knows the statewide hotline for reporting child abuse and neglect - and understands that everyone plays a role in protecting Colorado's children.
In 2015, CDHS, in partnership with Governor Hickenlooper and more than one hundred and fifty community organizations throughout the state, 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).
This year the campaign kicked off National Child Abuse Prevention Month (April) with a special event at the State Capitol at the beginning of the month. Since then, a dedicated crew of street team members has been showing up at locations like Aspen Grove, Belmar and Red Rocks throughout Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson counties to educate Coloradans about the hotline and encourage them to spread the word among their own family and friends. From now through the end of the month, they'll be traveling to other parts of the state - from Greeley and Fort Collins to Pueblo to Grand Junction.
"Parenting is hard, and every parent struggles at some point. Having access to support and a network to lean on can make a big difference for a family," said Reggie Bicha, executive director of CDHS. "Through this outreach, we want people to realize that reporting concerns about a family via the hotline does not mean that family will be separated. We are fortunate to have a wide array of community groups and services across the state to help families who are struggling - whether they're facing financial insecurity, substance abuse issues, mental illness or any number of other issues. We are encouraging people with concerns about a child's safety or well-being to call the 1-844-CO-4-KIDS hotline so that we can get families the support they need."
The street team is also encouraging the people they meet to get involved in other ways in their communities by mentoring, becoming a CASA or foster parent, volunteering or even helping a new parent in their neighborhood. More information on the campaign and how to get involved is available at www.co4kids.org.