Vision: The Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families (the Partnership) works collaboratively across Colorado to create the conditions for strong families and communities where children are healthy, valued and thriving.

Mission: The aim is to significantly reduce child fatalities and child maltreatment for all children zero to five by positively and proactively supporting strong and healthy family formation.

Theory of Change

If we collaborate at the state and county level to align funding, priorities, regulations, outcome measures, and implementation – across sectors and across jurisdictions – we can create a strong family well-being system that supports families.

By doing this, family and community factors that build protective capacity against maltreatment will be enhanced and risk factors reduced—including outcomes related to child well-being and achievement, caregiver well-being and achievement, consistent high-quality caregiving, and safe and supportive neighborhoods.

​By aligning our work and learning from and with one another, we can significantly reduce child fatalities and child maltreatment for all children zero to five by positively and proactively supporting strong and healthy family formation.

Our Structure

The Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families is supported by Illuminate Colorado to organize and coordinate our partners throughout the state. The role of Illuminate Colorado is to maintain the structure of the partnership by providing the tools to share knowledge, aligning decisions and efforts across our communities and systems, and clearly defining the steps we will take together to achieve our goals.

If we think of a family like a community garden, it takes a group of people working together to help enrich the soil, encouraging the garden to grow and thrive. The Partnership is continually working to cultivate the garden, in this case by expanding and intentionally fostering broad cross-sector coalitions that include health care, housing, public health, community-based organizations, philanthropic partners, and others who share our vision and are committed to improving child well-being. Together, we can work with families to provide the nutrient-rich soil for our garden to thrive.


Make strategic direction decisions

Facilitate connections to support implementation

Elevate successes and challenges

Ways to Engage

Families & Caregivers:

  • Centers lived experiences
  • Empowers families and caregivers to engage in systems change
  • Provides guidance on best practices for family engagement

County/Regional Implementation:

  • Communities can rally around parents and caregivers to offer supports that will help them thrive long before things spiral out of control.

Communities of Practice:

  • Deepen learning in order to support local/regional action and collaboration
  • May choose to create something together in response to their shared learning

Work Groups:

  • Convened as responsive to a need (e.g. an ad hoc group to develop a tool we wish existed)

Leadership Team & Backbone Support

Leadership Team:

  • Guides strategic direction
  • Builds public will
  • Mobilizes resources
  • Offers nimble decision making
  • Provides feedback and support for implementation

Backbone Support
(Provided by Illuminate Colorado):

  • Establishes shared measurement
  • Supports aligned activities
  • Cultivates community engagement and ownership
  • Facilitates collective progress
  • Builds public will
  • Advances policies
  • Guides strategy
  • Mobilizes resources


The three priority areas of the Partnership are:


Align state and county human services, public health, and health care systems to place family well-being at the center.


Strengthen the family well-being system service array to improve outcomes for parents and infants throughout pregnancy and up to age 1.


Change community norms related to social connectedness to increase access to information on child development and support with parenting with the intent to reduce parental stress and decrease child maltreatment.

Leadership Team

Daniel Makelky
Douglas County Human Services

Fikile Ryder
Family Voice Representative

Gina Robinson
Department of Health Care Policy & Financing

Heather Hicks
Family Voice Representative

Joseph Homlar
Colorado Department of Human Services-Division of Child Welfare

Jade Woodard
Illuminate Colorado

Kendra Dunn
Colorado Department of Human Services-Office of Early Childhood

Mary Berg
Jefferson County Human Department of Services

Melissa Palay
Jefferson County Public Health

Sarah Grazier
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Susan Caskey
Boulder County Housing and Human Services

    Backbone Support for The Partnership

    The Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families is supported by Illuminate Colorado. As the backbone support team, Illuminate Colorado commits to guiding vision and strategy, supporting aligned activities, establishing shared measurement practices, cultivating community engagement and ownership, and mobilizing resources.

    If you have questions about the Partnership, contact us!