Colorado, Jump into your local Public Libraries, Summer Reading Program! By Krista Vachon

May 29th, 2013

Krista Vachon School may be out for most Colorado youth while busy parents are left wondering how to keep their children learning over the summer.  One option has been created by the Colorado Commissioner of Education Robert Hammond and the Colorado State Library who are urging educators and families to help students retain and develop academic skills over the summer by reading and using the free online tool, “Find A Book Colorado.” This online tool offers families a fast and easy way to search books within the Lexile framework to find reading materials that match the skills of readers of all ages and interests.

Commissioner Hammond has stressed that developing early literacy skills should be a priority in Colorado and that we must work together to encourage children to read during the summer. Local public libraries will also be encouraging children ages 0-18 to participate in exciting Summer Reading Programs that encourage children and teens to read while attending great events at local libraries throughout the summer.

The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) reports that “Reading for fun over the summer is very important for children and teens. Reading often during the summer helps students keep up the reading skills they gained during their last year in school.” CDE also states that kids have more fun when they see others reading.  Moreover, allowing them to choose their own books is helpful to keeping them enthusiastic about reading.

CRS encourages families to participate in these exciting free summer programs.  Locate your local public library to register for the 2013 Summer Reading Program and “Find A Book Colorado” to keep your children’s imaginations alive this summer.

Colorado’s Health Into the Future By Kim Riley

May 14th, 2013

Kim Riley Over the past year, Governor Hickenlooper’s office has partnered with Engaged Public, a Denver-based public policy firm, to orchestrate a public engagement campaign called TBD (To Be Determined) Colorado.  Throughout the state, 70 community meetings with over 1,200 participants were convened to discuss the most pressing issues facing Colorado’s future, including education, the state budget, transportation, health and the state workforce.

The results have been summarized in a report entitled The State of Health: Colorado’s Commitment to Become the Healthiest State  that features four specific health recommendations: 1) promoting prevention and wellness  2) expanding health care coverage access and capacity  3) improving health system integration and quality and 4) enhancing value and strengthening sustainability.  The report outlines a blueprint for meeting these recommendations and provides a description of measurable targets that will track progress over time.

Promoting prevention and wellness offers options to help individuals stay healthy and become healthier, such as increasing awareness about the importance of wellness, building individual engagement in healthy behaviors and encouraging personal responsibility.  Improved coordination between behavioral health and physical health providers is also recommended.

The second recommendation, to expand coverage, access and capacity addresses the need to ensure access to care for individuals when and where they need it. Proposals include expanding public and private health insurance coverage; expanding Colorado’s health workforce by enhancing education, training and employment pathways for mid-level non-physician providers, care coordinators and patient navigators; recruiting and retaining more primary care providers in under-served communities; and providing health services through telehealth, or long-distance internet-based provision of services.

The third recommendation to improve health system integration and quality is attained by eliminating barriers to better care and improving the way health services are provided to ensure more person-centered care. Options include expanded use of patient-centered medical homes, or medical hubs. Another mechanism entails access to State information and services through the Colorado Information Marketplace, a comprehensive database system that will provide consolidated health information data to the public, health providers and technology experts.

The final recommendation promotes strategies to enhance value and strengthen sustainability, or to develop financial incentives for healthcare providers to focus on quality and value of their care rather than volume.  Strategies along these lines include Medicaid cost containment, incentive-based payment reform and investment in Health Information Technology systems that create efficiency in delivery of health services.

Colorado is a state where citizens work collaboratively across disciplines and give priority to health initiatives.  We benefit from having abundant recreational opportunities and healthy lifestyle practices. The efforts described above build on these strengths and can help, as Governor Hickenlooper and partners implore, to enable us to become the healthiest state in the nation.

The Tobacco Education, Prevention and Cessation Program Strives to Empower Colorado to Quit Smoking By Krista Vachon

May 10th, 2013

Krista Vachon Although Colorado is known for being one of the country’s healthiest states, tobacco remains a leading cause of preventable deaths. Within The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) the State Tobacco Education and Prevention Partnership (STEPP), works to address this deadly public health issue.

The program, which is overseen by the state’s Tobacco Education, Prevention, and Cessation Grant Program Review Committee, strives to lead Colorado’s fight against tobacco-related death, disease, and economic burden by bringing together organizations and individuals to support tobacco-free lifestyles and environments. CDPHE reports that the program and its partners provide inclusive, evidence-based, culturally appropriate, and cost effective programs and policies that are effective in achieving the following goals.

  • Prevent youth from starting to use tobacco;
  • Help people who use tobacco to quit;
  • Assist in the reduction of and protection from secondhand smoke; and
  • Reduce tobacco use among groups that are disproportionately affected and/or at high risk.

According to CDPHE, the health and economic impacts of tobacco tend to be greater for African-Americans, Latinos/Latinas, Asian-Americans/Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, those in treatment for substance abuse or mental illness, people with disabilities, spit tobacco users, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender and people with low socioeconomic status. These 10 high-risk populations also have an increased burden of tobacco-related disease, disability, and death.

Although, eliminating tobacco-related health disparities poses a great challenge, CDPHE reports that “Colorado’s Tobacco Education, Prevention and Cessation Program joins tobacco control coalitions nationwide to understand patterns of tobacco use and consequences within these priority populations.” By doing so, the program hopes to develop and implement effective strategies which acknowledge the special needs of these groups in Colorado.

For those interested in attending a meeting, the Review Committee meets on the third Friday of every month from 1:00-4:30 p.m. at CDPHE, located at 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver, 80246. All meetings are open to the public. Please read the Tobacco Grant Program Review Committee Funding Recommendations for FY14 for more detailed information outlining the grants objectives.

The Center for Research Strategies supports the efforts of CDPHE and the Tobacco Education, Prevention, and Cessation Partnership Program, in hopes of creating a healthier, smoke free tomorrow.