Seven Colorado communities were awarded a LAUNCH Together planning grant to promote the social and emotional health and well-being of children and families, Early Milestones Colorado announced this month. Baby Bear Hugs, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pueblo, Denver’s Early Childhood Council, ECHO & Family Center Early Childhood Council, Jefferson Center for Mental Health, Mesa County Health Department and Tri-County Health Department, in partnership with community stakeholders, will participate in a seven-month strategic planning process to expand evidence-based prevention and promotion practices and enhance coordinated community systems.
The $11.2 million, five-year, multi-phase LAUNCH Together effort is possible through a unique and innovative collaboration between eight Colorado-based foundations: The Ben and Lucy Ana Walton Fund of the Walton Family Foundation, Buell Foundation, Caring for Colorado Foundation, the Colorado Health Foundation, Community First Foundation, Kaiser Permanente Colorado, The Piton Foundation at Gary Community Investments and Rose Community Foundation.
The LAUNCH Together initiative is inspired and informed by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) initiative and Colorado Project LAUNCH partners. Weld County received a federal SAMHSA Project LAUNCH award in 2010, and the state of Colorado with Adams county as a pilot community received a federal SAMHSA Project LAUNCH award in 2014. Colorado is the first state in the nation to replicate this model in communities using private dollars.
LAUNCH Together communities will focus their strategic planning efforts around systems improvements and implementation of evidence-based strategies centered around five key prevention and wellness promotion strategies: 1) the integration of behavioral health into primary care; 2) mental health consultation in early care and education settings; 3) enhanced home visiting services; 4) family strengthening and parent education; and 5) screening and assessment. At the end of the planning grant, the seven communities will have created a community vision for advancing children’s social and emotional health with a clear strategic plan for moving forward. Through a competitive application process, up to four of the seven communities awarded LAUNCH Together planning grants will receive four-year implementation grants, totaling up to $2M for each community.