Summer 2023 Advocacy

Building a safe, healthy and happy future for children requires collaboration between parents, providers, and policymakers. The Kempe Foundation’s policy team collaborates with Kempe professionals, child welfare advocates and legislators to push forward child-focused policies that will improve the lives of children and families in Colorado and beyond.

We work with state and national lawmakers as well as human services agencies to advance laws, policies and programs that provide opportunities for children to live safe, healthy and happy lives. This summer in 2023, we were aid in creating change on a policy level with the following updates:


Jon Kruljac, The Kempe Foundation’s CEO joined the signing of HB23-1108, Victim and Survivor Training For Judicial Personnel being signed by Lieutenant Governor Primavera. HB23-1108 better equips the judicial system and judicial personnel with the tools needed to understand the complex issues faced by victims of crimes like sexual assault, child abuse, and domestic violence. 

In the first photo: Jon Kruljac, CEO of the Kempe Foundation with Senator Chris Hansen

In the second photo:  Majority Leader Monica Duran (red jacket), sponsor of the bill and witnessed the bill signing

In the third photo: Majority Leader Duran with other stakeholders

HB23-1269, HB23-1024

On June 5, 2023, Governor Jared Polis signed into law House Bill 23-1269 to improve outcomes for kids with complex mental health needs HB23-1024 Relative And Kin Placement Of A Child. Jon was present at this signing.

The bipartisan bill was sponsored by Representatives Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez with Senators Jeff Bridges and Bob Gardner, and unanimously passed by the Colorado State Senate. House Bill 23-1269 will:

  • Provide temporary funding to maintain existing residential treatment options for children and youth with high acuity needs and expand those options.
  • Analyze whether setting minimum rate requirements for certain behavioral health services covered by Medicaid could create a larger network of services for children and youth.
  • Initiate a process to incentivize residential treatment providers to serve more kids with higher acuity needs by creating an incentive funding pool.
  • Collect data to identify the breadth of children and youth who meet criteria for extended stay and boarding, and to analyze solutions.

HB23-1024 establishes several measures that protect the best interests of a child or youth and that will not hinder reunification with the child’s or youth’s family when the child or youth has been temporarily placed outside the family home with a relative or kin (relative)


Pictured is Senator Rachel Zenzinger (third to the left), Representative Judy Amabile (Fourth to the left), Representative Michaelson Jenet (Right of Governor Jared Polis) at the signing of SB23-082, which was sponsored by Sen. R Zenzinger, Sen. B. Kirkmeyer, Rep. J. Amabile, and Rep. D. Michaelson Jenet. 



On the same day, Bill SB23-082 Colorado Fostering Success Voucher Program was also signed. Jon provided testimony in support of SB23-082 in front of the Health & Human Services committee during the legislative session. The act establishes the Colorado fostering success voucher program (program) in the department of human services (DHS). The purpose of the program is to provide housing vouchers and case management services to eligible youth.

Discussions in Washington

In July, Warren Binford, Steve Berkowitz, Kathi Wells, and Jon Kruljac were in Washington, D.C., to discuss national advocacy issues supporting children and families and to survey the landscape on how Kempe could be a resource for various stakeholders. They met with staff and members of the Colorado delegation including Congresswoman Brittany Pettersen (seen pictured below), other policymakers, and thought leaders identifying priorities for improvement in child wellbeing.


Testifying at the CO State Capitol

On August 22, during a meeting at the CO State Capitol, the Kempe Foundation & Kempe Center experts testified on challenges & potential solutions for evidence-based child maltreatment prevention. The Kempe Foundation leadership facilitated this advocacy work.

From left to right in the photo below: Kempe Center Colleagues Sue Kerns, Michelle Davis, Kathy Wells, MD & Kendall Marlowe


Advocacy is a key component in the Kempe Foundation’s impact

One effective way child abuse and neglect can be prevented is by the implementation of policies and bills that will protect and support children and families. By creating change on a policy level, we ensure that the systems that surround children and families remain beneficial and protective of them.