KIDS COUNT travel trip #2: Alamosa and Colorado Springs

Written by: Erin Miller
Date Posted: September 14, 2018

KIDS COUNT travel season is in full swing at the Children’s Campaign. This week our team presented at community forums in Alamosa and Colorado Springs and got our first look at the changing aspen leaves as we drove through the Pike and San Isabel National Forests.

At the Early Childhood Council of San Luis Valley, Vice President of Research, Sarah Hughes, shared data on local and statewide child wellbeing to a packed audience that included state and county elected officials and their staffs, early child education providers and school administrators. Our It’s About Kids Network Manager, Katie Creedon, shared information about how community members can engage in the upcoming November elections. Community Members engaged in conversation around the lack of availability of infant and toddler care, family economic security and school finance.

Children’s Campaign staff also attended a community forum in Alamosa where dozens of community members shared their thoughts on the strengths and challenges facing the San Luis Valley and what changes need to be made to ensure that all kids in the Valley can thrive. Themes from the conversation included transportation challenges in rural areas, opioid and substance use and its impact on families, the need for peer navigators, the importance of coaching for practice improvement in systems that support children and families facing significant barriers and the importance of paid family leave.

In Colorado Springs, our Government Affairs Director, Riley Kitts, facilitated a panel conversation with local community members including school district officials, childcare providers and public health experts. We heard some familiar themes from our conversations in Alamosa including the lack of availability of infant and toddler care, the need for school finance reform and paid family leave and how coaching can help child care providers meet the social and emotional development needs of the children in their care. We also heard about the need for access to housing and adolescent and school-based mental health support and the importance of ensuring that every child can eat breakfast and lunch at school every day. Sarah Hughes also shared El Paso county data on child wellbeing with the attendees, who included a number of candidates and elected officials.

Special thanks to our It’s About Kids network leaders Sherri Valdez, who hosted us in Alamosa, and Alliance For Kids staff in Colorado Springs. And thank you to all the dedicated community members who attended our meetings and who shared their critical insights into the steps that legislators and the new administration will need to take to ensure every chance for every child in Colorado.

Erin Miller

About Erin Miller

Erin serves as the Vice President of Health Initiatives for the Colorado Children’s Campaign, leading efforts to improve health insurance coverage and quality for Colorado’s kids, improve access to health services, and ensure that every child has healthy places to live, learn, and play. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign in September 2015, Erin worked on the Accountable Care Collaborative team at the Colorado Department of Health Policy and Financing. She has extensive experience evaluating federal, state, and local policies related to Medicaid, CHIP, the Affordable Care Act, and public health programs as well as working with legislators, policymakers, constituents, and other stakeholders to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable populations. Her professional experiences range from serving as a WIC Educator and Local Area Retail Coordinator for Denver Health to serving as a Special Assistant in the HHS Office of Planning and Evaluation in Washington DC and as a Health Policy Adviser and Budget Analyst for the U.S. House Budget Committee.