Building Social Connections in the Middle of A Pandemic

Colorado has been examining social norms associated with safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for children for many years. Asking questions about actual and perceived values, beliefs and behaviors associated with the prevention of child maltreatment and looking to close the gap between reality and misperception across different levels of community systems.

One issue has raised red flags among experts, advocates and parents alike for years. The results of surveys and focus groups associated with social connections among parents highlighted a problem well before the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While 50% of Colorado parents think other parents ask for help with parenting, the reality is that only one in five parents in Colorado reported asking for help with parenting and one in five said they have no one to turn to for day-to-day emotional support with raising children. (1)(2)(3) These results have raised red flags dating back to 2016, long before the pandemic impacted Coloradans’ lives in so many ways.

Get Colorado Connected

Mother putting on a face-cover to daughter

Through the Colorado Essentials for Childhood project, funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and support from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Department of Human Services, a diverse group of state and community members worked closely to create the tools available on Colorado COnnected and begin to address social norms significantly impacting families and communities, building resilience and preventing child maltreatment.

Today, Illuminate Colorado, the Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families and many parents, neighbors and organizations are supporting this work by asking all of Colorado to build social connections for families.

There were a number of positive norms that have also been brought to light that can and should be leveraged, to strengthen families.

  • Almost 9 in 10 Coloradans believe that others, whose opinions matter to them, think there’s nothing wrong with parents who ask for support.(4)
  • Parents also reported a willingness to offer support to each other and felt comfortable accessing community resources and building connections through trusted messengers.(5)

The disconnect occurring between our beliefs and practice associated with social connections and asking for support in parenting demonstrates a significant gap between the actual and the perceived social norms among Colorado parents at-large.

There is little reason to think results have improved given the significant increases in stress among parents that have been reported recently. Through effective strategies in local communities and positive messages, social norms can be leveraged to build social connections and strengthen families in Colorado. That is exactly what many communities highlighted on Colorado COnnected have done and continue to do today through the Colorado Partnership for Thriving families community norms work group. 

Creating social connection between community members these days requires getting connected online and offline carefully. According to community organizations in Colorado that have successfully brought community members together prior to the onset of the pandemic, individuals are generally more responsive to in-person invitations to events and programs. However, the need to physically distance and adhere to public health orders while still fostering social connections among parents requires innovation, creativity and a public will to prioritize keeping families strong right now.

Communities have a great influence in families’ lives. Just as plants are more likely to thrive in a garden with good soil and plenty of sunlight and water, families are more likely to thrive in nurturing communities.

Humans are social creatures, and we’re happiest and healthiest when we regularly spend time with others. Close personal relationships as well as a sense of community are strongly linked with physical and mental well-being. Connecting with other people can reduce stress and help you remember others care about you.

Constructive and supportive social connections help buffer parents from stressors and support nurturing parenting behaviors that promote secure attachments in young children.

To create safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for children, we all need to build connectivity within our communities on multiple levels: among individuals, families and peers; workplaces, schools, and community organizations; local governments and entities; and state organizations.

Community organizations such as libraries, family resource centers, and neighborhood associations play a critical role in building social connections among parents.

Organizations and businesses have a unique power to serve as local hot spots for social activity, providing families with the opportunity to make connections, deepen their support networks, and counter social isolation. is designed to help community organizations create, facilitate, and strengthen social connection among parents. This Colorado Connected Stories Blog will lift up and highlight tools, resources and, most importantly, organizations and individuals building social connections in Colorado.

Get Started

If you have an inspirational story to share or you would like support in building connections using the strategies and tools available today, contact us or join the Colorado Partnership for Thriving families community norms work group meeting regularly to support individuals, organizations and communities in their efforts to build social connections for families.

  1. Colorado Department of Human Services (2017). Colorado Independent Analysis of 2016 Awareness and Community Norms Survey. 
  2. CDC. (2019). Awareness, Commitment, & Community Norms Survey, 2019.
  3. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (2020). National Survey on Children’s Health, 2017-2018.
  4. Colorado Department of Human Services (2017). Colorado Independent Analysis of 2016 Awareness and Community Norms Survey.
  5. Idea Marketing (2016). The Colorado Parent and Informal Caregiver Perspective.


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Your Family, Your Neighborhood

Your Family, Your Neighborhood

Your Family, Your Neighborhood aims to increase the well-being of low-income families in the Denver area by increasing social connections in neighborhoods.

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