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

LAUNCH Together (the Initiative) was 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 supported community prevention and health promotion practices and builds coordinated systems. LAUNCH Together was inspired by the outcomes of Project LAUNCH, a national effort of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Early Milestones served as the lead agency for this multi-year initiative. We championed the work, provided technical assistance, and advanced state systems coordination.

Strategies for Sustainable Change

For more than five years, LAUNCH Together supported collaboration across health and mental health, early childhood, and family supports to improve local infrastructure, streamline services, and infuse early childhood mental health (ECMH) knowledge. Five innovative communities created a vision for early childhood social-emotional health with a focus on reducing mental health disparities among vulnerable populations.

Our final report, “Systems Building in Early Childhood Mental Health,” highlights the Initiative’s local successes and statewide impact.

LAUNCH Together’s evaluation partner, the Butler Institute for Families at University of Denver, produced an executive report and ripple effect map at the Initiative’s conclusion. Community-specific evaluation reports are available under “Communities in Action.”

Additional resources developed through 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 [contributed] 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 [did] 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.


Thank you to the Butler Institute for Families, which served as the evaluation partner for LAUNCH Together. We are grateful also to local partners who worked tirelessly for the benefit of their communities’ children and families. Finally, thank you to our funders for their vision, leadership, and support throughout the Initiative.

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