Telluride Foundation: Kiddos & COVID-19- Easter Bunny, Diapers & Bears… Oh My!

Telluride Foundation: Kiddos & COVID-19- Easter Bunny, Diapers & Bears… Oh My!

For more information on parenting support and family resources and programs like Parents as Teachers, please visit or call (970) 708-3901. Se habla español! To learn more about the Strong Start Program, stay up-to-date on events and initiatives, visit or contact

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down, seemingly overnight. With these changes individuals, families, and organizations alike have had to pivot to respond to this new world. Bright Futures, a local early childhood nonprofit and Family Resource Center, has responded in a variety of ways to meet the needs of children, families and childcare centers in this time of crisis.

As a Family Resource Center, Bright Futures serves families in San Miguel and Ouray Counties, acting as a single point of contact for families in need of resources and support, and directs them to additional resources as needed. Through this designation, on-going parenting support is offered through programs like Parents as Teachers, a home visitation program for families with young children that focuses on parents being their child’s first and most influential teacher.

During this time of COVID-19, the Parents as Teachers model has been adopted from in-person home visits to a virtual platform and is seeing first hand that families need connections with other trusted adults during this time of crisis more than ever. Julie Ruffo of Conscious Discipline highlights that fact:

“Connection with others builds neural connections in the brain. It increases…emotional health and overall wellbeing. During times of stress (and this is certainly one of those times), authentic connection provides a buffer that softens the negative effects of the stressful situation.”

Partnership is also key during these unprecedented times. Bright Futures, along with the Wilkinson Public Library, San Miguel Resource Center, Ah Haa School for the Arts, Sheep Mountain Alliance, Tri County Health Network and Pinhead Institute, have created bilingual, age appropriate activity bags and resource information that are distributed to 50 families weekly at the Telluride Food Bank, with plans to scale this up to Norwood and Ouray County as well. Last week’s activity bags even included Easter Eggs, as the Easter Bunny IS an essential worker.

Bright Futures and West End Family Link recently partnered with FEMA to secure a large, very much needed shipment of diapers, wipes and formula that will be distributed throughout the region to families in need.

Childcare centers continue to stay connected with their young learners and families despite abrupt closures, as well. Early childhood teachers recognize how important it is to maintain a connection and a sense of consistency with the families enrolled in their programs. Centers continue to share photos and videos on social media, and participate in Circle Time and Story Hour via various video platforms. Many toddlers and preschoolers continue to learn and stay active with the assorted materials prepared and distributed by their hardworking early childhood teachers.

Strong Start has also risen to meet the needs during COVID-19. San Miguel County’s tax-payer funded program, created to elevate early childhood education, extended the LIFT-EC (Lifting Incomes for Teachers in Early Childhood) salary supplement program eligibility requirements to effectively assist more teachers. Previously, 35 teachers were eligible to receive income supplement checks. However, with increased eligibility coupled with this extension, the April cycle supported an additional 12 teachers. This will provide supplemental income to 47 teachers as they await business loans or unemployment checks to take effect. Additionally, Strong Start is hosting on-going virtual check-ins with each childcare center in San Miguel County to maintain connection, identify and share needed resources, answer questions, and offer encouragement. Recently, Strong Start awarded Quality Improvement Grants to childcare centers in San Miguel County. Understanding that this pandemic has shifted the priorities of many businesses, the focus of these grants has now been broadened to include business expenses needed to ensure childcare centers reopening when allowed.

Finally, keep an eye out for the county-wide bear hunt (like the beloved children’s book)! Decorate your paper bear, post it in your window, car, or another creative place, then take a family walk to find some more. There may even be some sightings on the river trail or up Bear Creek. Taking place April 19-25, this is sure to be some physically-distant fun for the whole family. Many more details to come!

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