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Helping Children and Families Find Ways to Thrive

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University of Denver

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Children and families are meeting many mornings – virtually – for a massive dance party. A children’s book author reads a book and leads related discussions and art lessons on Thursdays. More than 450 mental health practitioners gathered for a telehealth training. These are a few of the social support resources available during the pandemic, thanks to DU’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP), University Libraries and the philanthropists whose generosity has fueled these creative, timely programs.

The dance party and live-music singalongs bring the experts of GSPP and the Fisher Early Learning Center into the homes of hundreds of families each day. Through these interactions, families can build community and find social support. In addition, GSPP’s Caring for You and Baby (CUB) Clinic team is partnering with the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus to offer their WePlay infant and parent play group content virtually. The CUB Clinic’s expertise allowed a nimble transition to online programming during Colorado’s stay-at-home order. Taylor Kirkpatrick (IMBA ‘04) made many of the CUB Clinic offerings a reality through a gift to GSPP, and now his generosity is making a difference for the wider community in a time of great need.

“My goal as a strategic philanthropist is to find forward-thinking, creative, and innovative programs and leverage my support and resources on their chassis of expertise,” said Kirkpatrick. “The CUB Clinic, DU Libraries, and similar programs have compounded my investment by creating meaningful societal impact that is socially relevant and responsive, particularly in these challenging times.”

An offshoot of the CUB Clinic that was also made possible by Kirkpatrick’s generosity is the CUB Lifelong Learning Event Series. This program brings children’s book authors to the University of Denver campus so children and families can participate in story time and conversations with the author and Tracy Vozar, director of the CUB Clinic, about the benefits of reading with children. During COVID-19, the CUB Lifelong Learning Series went online, letting more than 250 community members participate in a Creative Corner with children’s book author Marianne Richmond.

“The CUB Clinic’s overarching goal is to meet the needs of families in innovative ways that reduce barriers to accessing services,” said Vozar, who is also director of GSPP’s Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health Specialty. “COVID-19 and social distancing create perhaps the most intense barrier we have encountered. I’m proud that our CUB Clinic team responded with compassion, creativity, and committed action, resulting in a timely response with multiple levels of service offerings – some pre-existing and many developed specific to our current circumstances.”

Visionary philanthropy at the University of Denver makes a difference in countless ways – for our students, faculty and community. During the time of COVID-19, it also has provided the fuel for DU’s innovation and expertise to reach exponentially more people through online programming that is informed by faculty expertise and grounded in research.