Healthy social-emotional development lays the foundation for overall health, well-being, and success in school and life.

LAUNCH Together is an initiative designed to improve social-emotional and developmental outcomes for Colorado’s young children and their families. A unique partnership between Early Milestones, eight Colorado-based foundations, five counties, and the Butler Institute for Families supports community prevention and health promotion practices and builds coordinated systems. LAUNCH Together is inspired by the outcomes of Project LAUNCH, a national effort of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Early Milestones serves as the lead agency for this multi-year initiative. We champion the work, provide technical assistance, and advance state systems coordination.

Community work for LAUNCH Together concluded in 2020, and a series of publications and videos are scheduled for release in early 2021.

Strategies for Sustainable Change

LAUNCH Together supports collaboration across health and mental health, early childhood, and family supports to improve local infrastructure, streamline services, and infuse early childhood mental health knowledge. Building on work in Weld and Adams counties, five counties were selected in 2016 to implement the initiative’s key strategies. These innovators are creating a vision for early childhood social-emotional health with a focus on reducing mental health disparities among vulnerable populations.

A critical component of LAUNCH Together is advancing opportunities to improve statewide systems supporting early childhood mental health. Below is a selection of efforts supported by LAUNCH Together.

 

LAUNCH Strategies

Communities in Action

Select a community to learn how local efforts are advancing children's social-emotional health

Jefferson County

The “Gateway to the Rockies” has a strong history of collaborating to address the challenges of its most vulnerable populations. However, access to mental health services is becoming increasingly difficult due to gentrification and transportation issues. Partners across Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, and Edgewater are building a coordinated system of community-based mental health services focused on children birth through age three.

Pueblo County

Pueblo’s deep-rooted stigma about mental health, coupled with intergenerational poverty, makes changing patterns and attitudes towards children’s social-emotional development especially challenging. A diverse collaboration of child-focused leaders is committed to changing this culture by building a common understanding of the importance of social-emotional development and creating a seamless process for families to access critical services.

Southwest Denver

An estimated 12,500 children under the age of eight live in Southwest Denver alone. Faced with risk factors such as high poverty and domestic violence rates, as well as low preschool enrollment, Denver is leveraging community assets and collective impact expertise to create a trauma-informed system that supports social-emotional development.

Chaffee County

Chaffee County covers 1,000 square miles and has three population centers: Buena Vista, Poncha Springs, and Salida. Due to its rural setting, Chaffee’s families lack access to many early childhood programs and services common in urban areas. Through LAUNCH Together, the Chaffee County Early Childhood Council, along with the early childhood council in neighboring Fremont County, led efforts to address regional equity challenges by increasing program and service availability.

Fremont County

Fremont County’s two population centers, Cañon City and Florence, are located on the Arkansas River. Smaller communities in this mostly rural area are located along the river’s narrow canyon to the west. The Colorado Children’s Campaign estimates that 23% of Fremont’s school-aged children live in poverty compared to 12% in the state. The ECHO and Family Center Early Childhood Council (the Council) partnered with the neighboring Chaffee Early Childhood Council to implement core LAUNCH Together strategies in rural settings and address regional equity challenges.

What Stakeholders are Saying

LAUNCH Together is contributing to a growing community-wide recognition of the need to prevent adverse childhood events in young children and help young families deal with their own traumas to improve the social-emotional well-being of themselves and their children.

LAUNCH Together has given us the opportunity not only to collaborate with other agencies but to become partners in making sure the programs we operate are given every opportunity to be supported. The social-emotional support, coaching, and education offered to [early care and learning programs] have really helped teachers who are dealing with a lot of difficult behaviors.

The work LAUNCH Together is doing for home visitation programs has been the most focused and exciting partnership we’ve been a part of. To have local home visitation programs meeting and brainstorming in the same room has been so rewarding and meaningful. To have all of us working toward the same goals for the benefit of the families we work with will only lead to better outcomes for all.

Partners

Thank you to the many partners who make this initiative successful, including local communities implementing the work, the Butler Institute for Families, and the eight Colorado-based foundations that provide funding and serve as the project advisory team.

  • Buell Foundation
  • CO Health Foundation
  • Community First Foundation
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • The Piton Foundation at Gary Community Investments