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Denver Safe from the Start

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In the fall of 2009, the federal government recognized Denver Safe from the Start with one of six nationwide demonstration grants from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). The two-year federal grant allowed DCAC to greatly expand the impact of the program.

We also partnered with OJJDP on a state and national public awareness campaign created by Heinrich Marketing, the company currently orchestrating the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Public Awareness Campaign.

The Denver Children’s Advocacy Center’s (DCAC) Safe from the Start prevention program focuses on safety and child sexual abuse prevention. We use a curriculum from the nationally renowned Committee for Children, especially designed for the prevention of childhood sexual abuse.

Safe from the Start offers a curriculum to grades ECE-5th. The program consists of 5 lessons that are 15-20 minutes long. We can also teach the lessons in Spanish and we provide training to school staff and parents on safety, prevention, and child abuse. These trainings are facilitated by licensed professionals.

Safe from the Start has been presenting in Denver Public Schools for the last 8 years and our curriculum has been approached by the Denver Public Schools Administration. The program meets the requirements for Erin’s Law, which states that public schools in each state must implement a prevention-orientated child sexual abuse program.

Supporting Children, Parents, & Teachers

The federal funding allowed DCAC to create a Denver Safe from the Start website of resources for parents and teachers. Denver Safe from the Start has evolved and changed since its creation in 2005, but the materials reproduced here for free download remain the enduring among the three groups of participants: children, parents, and teachers. 

For Teachers

The Denver Safe from the Start curriculum can be adapted based to your needs. Classes begin with basic concepts of personal safety and good health—use of seat belt, hand-washing, healthy eating, and traffic safety and then progress to more complex concepts such “words hurt,” discipline at home, private parts, appropriate touch and telling a trusted adult if they are afraid.

Resources for teachers include:

For Parents

These activities are used in the classroom curriculum and then provided to parents to reinforce the curriculum at home. We have chosen activities to share that work well independently of the curriculum. Each activity helps elementary age kids learn rules about staying safe. The activities can be used in any order.

Classroom Activities

For Children

Children love the safety curriculum, which begins with basic concepts of personal safety and good health—use of seat belt, hand-washing, healthy eating, and traffic safety and builds to self-protective skills. They especially enjoy the puppets. Winston the Worm is one of their favorite characters in the curriculum and he has become the unofficial mascot for Denver Safe from the Start.

Additional Resources for Teachers & Parents

How Schools Benefit

Traumatized children cannot learn. However many resources are poured into literacy programs, if the underlying causes are not addressed, these children will not succeed in school. This is not the fault of their teachers—it is the result of trauma.

Victims of child abuse and neglect suffer from trauma, which if untreated, impacts children’s physical and mental health—their brain development, sexual development, language development, and memory development—making it almost impossible for them to learn in school and enjoy normal development and normal human relationships.

Denver Safe from the Start works with schools to:

  • protect young children from abuse and to promote healthy development so that they can learn.
  • identify children who are traumatized so that with treatment, normal development can be restored so that they can learn.

If your school would like more information on partnering with DCAC, please contact Cathy Hay, Prevention Program Manager, at or 303.996.8583.