Friday, December 11, 2020

Safe Sleep is a Community Responsibility

Check out this recent article by CFPS team member and Community and Equity Program Specialist Christal Garcia! 

Although October is recognized as Safe Sleep month, parents, grandparents, and communities need to talk about the importance of safe sleep every month and throughout the year. 

Sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) is a term used to describe the sudden and unexpected death of an infant less than 1-year-old in which the cause was not obvious before investigation. These deaths often happen during sleep or in the infant’s sleep area.

Sudden unexpected infant deaths include sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), accidental suffocation in a sleeping environment, and other deaths from unknown causes.

The three commonly reported types of SUID include the following:

  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Unknown cause.
  • Accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed.

Safe sleep practices can help protect babies from SIDS, accidental suffocation and strangulation. Christal Garcia, a teen mom in high school, single parent throughout adulthood and now proud involved grandmother, wasn’t familiar with safe sleep when she was raising her kids. For Christal, being closer in age to her kids has made having these conversations easier. She wants every parent and grandparent to feel this comfortable, too.

Like any parent or grandparent, Christal is concerned about safety for her own family members but she is also working to keep all kids safe in her role as the Community and Equity Program Specialist on the Violence and Injury Prevention team at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

Spreading awareness about safe sleep

As Christal remembers, no one talked about safe sleep back in the 1990s. Christal recalls cribs being full of items like stuffed animals that could have caused accidental suffocation. The first Safe to Sleep campaign (formerly known as the Back to Sleep campaign) to bring public attention to SIDS and to educate caregivers on ways to reduce SIDS risks wasn’t introduced until 1994. 

It wasn’t until Christal began working in child fatality prevention at CDPHE that she first learned about the importance of safe sleep. Now being more knowledgeable about safe sleep and remaining intentional about staying up to date with the latest safe sleep recommendations, Christal sees it as her responsibility to spread awareness as even teaching just one person at a time can save an infant’s life.

“We assume that parents and grandparents know and understand what it means for a baby to sleep safely and that assumption can be dangerous,” said Christal. She recalls her daughter’s experience of being discharged from the hospital after having her second baby. Christal’s daughter received a packet with safe sleep information and Christal felt upset because the nurse didn’t go over the packet with her daughter to ensure that she understood the importance of safe sleep. 

When it comes to up-to-date safe sleep recommendations, there are many misleading examples in photos and in-store displays, further confusing parents and communities. Christal recalls shopping in a retail store to prepare for the arrival of her first grandson. She noticed a crib display that was full of items considered dangerous to a sleeping infant. “What if parents or family members mimicked that display to create a sleeping space for their child? The child would have been in danger and at risk of SUIDS,” said Christal. 

Standing firm in her commitment to educating others about safe sleep, Christal approached the manager of the store and educated that manager about infant safe sleep. She talked with the manager about possible harm and fatality risks to babies due to the items in the crib. The manager thanked Christal, immediately made changes throughout the store to display proper safe sleep practices and committed to educating his staff about safe sleep.

Culture and safe sleep practices

Christal, a Chicana woman, says that trying to teach family members and others who aren’t familiar with safe sleep about the importance of it can sometimes feel like a culture shock/shift because the family has already become comfortable with what they have always done. In the Chicana culture, grandmothers make blankets and give them to expecting parents as baby gifts. This is an important tradition, Christal agrees, however, parents need to keep in mind that their baby should not sleep with a blanket, even when the blanket is received as a meaningful gift.

Christal recalls having conversations with her own mother about solely utilizing a fitted sheet or safe sleep sack when putting her grandchild to sleep. “It can be difficult to encourage elders to do things in a different way than they have always known, but it is important, especially when the change can result in the safety and well-being of a child,” said Christal. Christal says baby showers can also be a challenge for many parents. “Although you cannot control what people buy and provide you with at a baby shower, parents should feel confident in making the choice not to use what isn’t safe for their baby,” said Christal.

Safe sleep in underserved communities

The rates of SIDS and accidental suffocation are two to three times greater among black and brown infants. SUID rates per 100,000 live births for American Indian/Alaska Native (215.8) and non-Hispanic black infants (186.5) were more than twice those of non-Hispanic white infants (85.4). SUID rates per 100,000 live births were lowest among Hispanic (53.8) and Asian/Pacific Islander infants (33.5). 

In Christal’s current role she is writing up prevention recommendations related to safe sleep. One recommendation suggests strategically increasing black and brown health care providers, doula’s and community health workers amongst organizations across the state as they can share experiences with families of color in a more relative way.

Families are strengthened when they have access to resources and information that helps to keep them safe and thriving, such as education about safe sleep. Strengthening families helps to prevent child abuse, neglect and fatalities. Christal knows her own family was strengthened by her efforts to disrupt the norm of not discussing safe sleep, so she has made it a priority to do the same for others. Initially, her kids thought that she was crossing the line between work and home too much when advocating for safe sleep practices to be incorporated into the lives of her grandchildren, but she worked through that challenge by remaining focused on the goal of helping her family - and other families - understand the importance of safe sleep.


“Even when I've been told that it’s none of my business, I made it my business – whether the child was my grandchild or the child of a family friend. Safe sleep is a community responsibility.”

Christal Garcia, Community and Equity Program Specialist, CDPHE


Learn more about safe sleep

Babies should sleep alone, on their back and in a crib. Visit our safe sleep page for more resources and tips to talk about safe sleep with anyone caring for your baby, including grandparents, co-parents, family members, friends and child care providers.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Behavioral Health Training Institute for Health Officials

 We'd like to share the following professional development opportunity for public health officials (senior public health professionals, such as directors of county health departments):

Supporting public health leaders is critical to strengthening our nation’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring affordable and quality care for all and shifting social norms on mental health and substance use disorders to address community needs.

The National Council for Behavioral Health’s 2020-2021 Behavioral Health Training Institute for Health Officials Program,* in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Center for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support, seeks to provide a national cohort of public health officials with training and technical assistance opportunities to advance behavioral health efforts in communities across the nation.

This opportunity will provide a dynamic eight-month leadership program to support public health officials:

  • Cultivate crisis leadership skills and support mental health resiliency during COVID-19.
  • Develop and enhance behavioral health competencies in designing and enhancing supports for communities and vulnerable populations.
  • Improve interagency partnerships to address behavioral health needs with guidance from subject matter experts.
  • Advance health equity, operationalize critical activities that move the needle on social determinants and integrate trauma-informed approaches.

Participation in the Behavioral Health Training Institute is FREE, including participation at NatCon21, and includes direct access to coaching calls, monthly webinars, workshops, Mental Health First Aid training and exclusive peer-to-peer engagement.





Applications for the 2020-21 Behavioral Health Training Institute for Health Officials Program are due by 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday, December 18, 2020.

Questions? Contact us.

Monday, December 7, 2020

New Report: Identification of Child Maltreatment in Colorado


The Child Fatality Prevention System (CFPS) has released a new report: Identification of Child Maltreatment in Colorado Through Child Death Review, 2009-2018.

The effects of child abuse and neglect are serious and impact people's wellbeing and health throughout their lives. One way to prevent future deaths from child maltreatment is to understand the circumstances of deaths that have already occurred. The purpose of this report is to gain a better understanding of the characteristics of child maltreatment deaths determined solely by CFPS teams and how these deaths differ from those substantiated by county Departments of Human Services. This report presents findings using ten years of CFPS data (2009-2018), and includes summaries of demographic characteristics and other trends of child maltreatment deaths occurring in Colorado.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Mini Grant Opportunity!

Coroner and Medical Examiner Mini Grants for Suicide Prevention

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's (CDPHE) Office of Suicide Prevention (OSP) and Child Fatality Prevention System (CFPS) are pleased to announce the availability of funding specifically for Colorado Coroners and Medical Examiners to help better understand and prevent suicide deaths.

The goals of this new mini grant funding include 1) increasing utilization of the Suicide Death Investigation Form, 2) bringing staff from coroner agencies and medical examiner offices into local or regional suicide prevention coalitions and working groups, 3) supporting suicide loss survivors, and 4) improving the Suicide Death Investigation Form. 

Coroner agencies and medical examiners offices can apply for up to $5,000.00 to be used towards costs incurred in the completion of activities associated with this mini grant between January 1, 2021 and June 30, 2021. If interested, please complete this brief application by December 4th, 2020.  Applications will be reviewed in December, and your notice of award will be received by December 31, 2020.

If you have any questions about this application or funding opportunity, please contact Sasha Mintz, CFPS Epidemiologist (

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Trans Awareness Week


Transgender Awareness Week is a week where transgender people and their allies bring attention to the accomplishments and struggles of the trans community. As professionals dedicated to preventing child deaths, it is essential that we create safe, welcoming communities for trans children and youth and eliminate the stigma and discrimination that harms the mental and physical health of these young people.

Did you know that 59% of transgender youth surveyed in Colorado had seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months, compared to 16% of cisgender youth? Or that 38% of transgender youth reported drinking and driving in the past month, compared to 5% of cisgender youth? Trans people, particularly Black and Latinx trans women, also suffer high rates of bias-driven assaults and murders. Stigma, discrimination, and gendered violence are killing trans children and youth - but we can all take action to address these issues.

Check out the new toolkit from Advocates for Youth, Creating Safer Space for LGBTQ Youth: A toolkit for education, healthcare, and community-based organizations.

Advocates for Youth is also highlighting trans youth activists on social media and you can help share their stories: Miles from Bradford, PA (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) and Jaden from Clarksville, TN (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook)  

You can also share this "My Friend is Transgender" video on Facebook.

Watch Disclosure, a new Netflix documentary about trans representation in the media. And, since many folks in public health love some Brené Brown, you can listen to Brené interview Disclosure executive producer Laverne Cox on the Unlocking Us podcast.   

Monday, November 16, 2020

WEBINAR: Trauma Informed Practices and Fatality Review

If you are involved with child fatality reviews, you may be interested in this webinar hosted by the National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention (NCFRP):

Who:  Fatality Review Coordinators and Team Members

What:  Incorporating Trauma Informed Systems and Practices into Fatality Review

Description:  Join us in exploring the basic elements of trauma-informed child and family service systems and strategies for fatality review teams on how to use their case review findings to create and implement recommendations that are trauma-informed.

When:  THIS Wednesday, 11/18/20, 12:00pm - 1:00pm MST

How:  Register here! 

Friday, November 13, 2020

Nurturing Resilience & Joy in Young BIPOC Children


EmbraceRace is hosting a two-part "Talking Race & Kids" webinar series...check it out!  

Nurturing Resilience & Joy in/among Young BIPOC Children, Part 1

This Monday, November 16, 2020 @ 8:30 pm ET

Ahora con traducción en vivo y en español (lea más abajo)

U.S. society is too often unkind to Black and Indigenous children and children of color (BIPOC children), raising the risk that these children learn to be unkind to themselves and each other. If we are to raise a generation of BIPOC children who fully recognize their own humanity, and that of their peers within and across lines of race and ethnicity, we need the entire village involved: aunts, uncles, and grandparents; mentors and coaches; children's book authors and publishers; toy manufacturers; television and film, and video producers. And more.

The roles and responsibilities of parents, caregivers and educators are especially crucial for our youngest children. Join us Monday for the first of a two-part conversation organized around two questions:

  • What are the big challenges parents and caregivers, and educators must meet if we are to nurture young children who are resilient, joyful and recognize each other's full humanity?
  • What tools, resources, and community do we need to help meet those challenges?
Part 1 on November 16th @8:30-9:30 pm ET: The Role of Parents and Caregivers

On Monday, for Part 1 of this series, we will focus on the role of parents and caregivers in nurturing joy and resilience in and among BIPOC children. We're joined by special guests Dolores Green Sosa and Brigitte Vittrup (more about them follows). 

Register for Part 1
Part 2 on November 19th @8:30-9:30 pm ET: The Role of Educators

On Thursday, for Part 2 of this series, we will focus on the role of educators in nurturing joy and resilience in and among BIPOC children. Our special guests will be Lisa Gordon and Debbie LeeKeenan. 
Register for Part 2

Register to join this latest Talking Race & Kids conversation. As always we welcome your questions and comments!

As with all Talking Race & Kids webinars, registration is free. If you register, you’ll receive a link to the recording, the transcript, and relevant resources in the days following the live event. Spread the word! Forward this email or share our post about this series on FacebookTwitter or Instagram


Andrew & Melissa
Co-founders of EmbraceRace

Escuche la traducción en español en vivo
Listen live to access the simultaneous Spanish translation

Ahora ofrecemos traducción en vivo y en Español, que estára disponible para todos los que se conecten en Zoom Live. Si desea más información sobre nuestros traductores de Bancha Lenguas, y / o escuchar cómo acceder a la traducción, acompáñenos a las 8:30 pm ET. ¡Registrate para participar! 

We now offer live translation in Spanish, which is available to all who join the Zoom live. If you want to learn more about our translators, Bancha Lenguas, and/or hear how to access the translation, join us at 8:30 pm ET. 

Special Guests

Dolores Sosa Green serves as the Chief Program Officer of the Center for Transforming Lives. She oversees comprehensive homeless services, early childhood education, clinical services, and economic mobility services, programs that work side-by-side with women and their children to disrupt the cycle of poverty in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. As the first in her family to earn a high school diploma, a bachelor’s degree, and a graduate degree, Dolores believes in and advocates for equity in education. She is happily married to her husband Anthony and is the mother of two beautiful daughters, Lauren and Maya.

Brigitte Vittrup is an associate professor of child development at Texas Women's University where she teaches courses in child development, research methods, and statistics. She holds a PhD in children's developmental psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and her research focuses on children's racial attitudes, parents’ racial socialization practices, and media influences on children.

Lisa Gordon has worked in early childhood education for the past 25 years designing and delivering professional development, training, technical assistance, and programs at both the state and federal levels that facilitate the well-being of children and families. She is co-founder of Colorful World, a women-owned diversity educational consulting firm whose mission is to facilitate the creation of inclusive learning environments that empower all children and families to succeed.

Debbie LeeKeenan, is a long time social justice educator, early childhood consultant, lecturer, and author. She has been in the field of early education for over 48 years. She is a former preschool, special education, and elementary school teacher. She has been a member of the early childhood faculty at Tufts University, Lesley University and the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Her most recent co-authored books include Leading Anti-Bias Early Childhood Programs: A Guide for Change, and From Survive to Thrive: Leading an Early Childhood Program. Debbie is a member of a multi-racial family and an active grandmother.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Supporting the Mental Health of Young Parents

Prior to COVID-19, researchers found that mothers age 21 and under experience mental health challenges up to four times as often as their peers and mothers older than 21. The National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) Foundation has a new infographic focusing on the mental health challenges and additional stressors experienced by many young parents, and solutions to support these parents and their children. Many of their identified solutions align with our CFPS legislative recommendations to reduce child deaths, such as home visitation programs and addressing basic needs such as housing. Please visit the NIHCM site to learn more and access resources for supporting young parents.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Please see the following requests to submit new questions to the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey and Smart Source and to weigh in on proposed new questions for HKCS 2021.  You can sign up for the School and Youth Survey Newsletter here!



Now accepting applications for NEW Questions and Modifications to HKCS & Smart Source!

Please complete this application to propose a new question or modify an existing question on the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey or Smart Source for the 2021 Fall survey administrations.

  • Completed applications will undergo a peer-review process to inform decisions on cuts, additions, and modifications made by the School and Youth Survey Steering Committee.
  • Competitive applications will provide detailed responses to all questions. 
  • Please submit one proposed new question or modification per application.
Please help us share the application widely!  

Deadline: November 16, 2020

We’d love your feedback on
New Questions under consideration for 2021 HKCS!

Please take this brief survey to endorse new HKCS questions under consideration for 2021. 
Consider how your program or community could utilize the results!  

The CDC and our youth survey experts on the Colorado School of Public Health Survey Team validated these questions. The questions primarily come from the CDC’s 2021 YRBS optional questions list or have been added to HCKS by schools in the past. Most are featured on the 2020 HKCS Supplement: COVID-19 instrument.

Not satisfied? Fill out our application to propose a new question!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Request for Applications: Substance Misuse Prevention



The purpose of this Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) Request for Applications (RFA) is to solicit applications from local organizations and agencies to implement an evidence-based shared risk and protective factor approach to preventing substance misuse in Colorado

There are two options for funding: 

  • Option A allows you to organize your community to be prepared to address any upstream prevention needs. Awardees develop the community coalition’s skills so they are prepared to review data and address solutions over time, no matter what the solution may be. 
  • Option B allows you to organize your community for one specific solution you have already identified. You are ready to act on this one strategy, and the funding may end sooner than Option A since your community already knows the solution you will seek. 
Both options will continue to emphasize our commitments to community mobilization, data-informed and evidence-informed decision-making, and a focus on racial and social equity.

Find more information at