Advancing social connections for all communities

Colorado Connected is moving beyond preventing child abuse and neglect to address the key underlying factor of social isolation. We are developing formal and informal community connections that strengthen families, working together to raise safe, healthy and happy children.


Through the Colorado Essentials for Childhood project, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and supported by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Colorado Department of Human Services, and Illuminate Colorado, Colorado Connected was originally developed by a diverse group of state and community members to begin to address social norms significantly impacting families and communities, building resilience and preventing child maltreatment.

Today, the Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families, Illuminate Colorado, and the Colorado Department of Early Childhood are supporting this work by asking all of Colorado to build social connections among parents and community support for families in Colorado.

Colorado Connected is funded by the Family Support Through Primary Prevention Demonstration Sites Grant and supported by the Children’s Bureau (CB), Administration for Children and Families (ACF) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an annual financial assistance award totaling $750,000 per year for five years with 79 percent funded by CB/ACF/HHS and $200,000 per year for three years funded by other source(s). The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, CB/ACF/HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit Administrative and National Policy Requirements.

Focus on Social Connections

Colorado Connected provides communities with the tools they need to build critical social connections.

This includes parents and community members directly, as well as organizations such as libraries, family resource centers, and neighborhood associations. The toolkit provides inspiration, knowledge, ideas and practical tools to strengthen social connections among parents.

By focusing on social connection and building community, organizations, businesses, and associations can strengthen families and promote safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments for children. In building social connections, these tools can be used to create healthier families and communities across Colorado. 

According to the Center for the Study of Social Policy, “Social Connections” is one of five Strengthening Families Protective Factors that have been shown to make positive outcomes more likely for young children and their families. Constructive and supportive social connections build parental resilience, buffering parents from stressors and fostering nurturing parenting that promotes secure attachments. Therefore, parents’ high-quality social connections are essential to both caregivers and their children.

Behavioral Model

What are community norms?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines community norms as group-level beliefs and expectations about how members of the group behave or should behave. The group can be large or small, ranging from the cultural norms of an entire country to those of a small sub-population. Public engagement and education campaigns have been used effectively in public health to change behaviors by using communication strategies (e.g., framing and messaging or social marketing), a range of communication channels (e.g., mass or social media) and community-based efforts (e.g., town hall meetings, neighborhood screenings and discussions) to reframe the way people think and talk about child abuse and neglect and who is responsible for preventing it. Effective frames highlight a problem and point the audience toward solutions.

Target Norm:
Social Isolation

Social isolation and loneliness in families is problematic.  An increasingly disconnected social landscape, along with the unique pressures faced by parents, leads to the “just asking for a friend” effect. Research in Colorado shows that parents fear being judged by others, and often don’t have the resources or comfort to admit their own need for social connection and support. Social isolation leads to parents feeling overwhelmed and less effective in their parenting. Increasing social cohesion on a community level requires that parents have both the opportunity to engage in connectable spaces and the ability to meaningfully tap into an engaged network. This toolkit addresses both of these key factors, providing community organizations the tools they need to make authentic connections among families and between neighbors in their communities.


Essentials for Childhood promotes safe, stable and nurturing relationships and environments for all children, families, and communities. These relationships and environments are essential for healthy child development and lifelong health, as well as essential to preventing negative childhood experiences and to ensuring children reach their full potential.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following goals to promote safe, stable and nurturing relationships and environments:

  • Raise awareness and commitment across many partners.
  • Use data to inform actions.
  • Increase healthy children and families through norms change and programs.
  • Increase healthy children and families through policies.

Get started with tips on what you can do in your community

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