By Michele Stillwell-Parvensky, Vice President of Advocacy and Policy at Kidango. Published on May 31, 2019.
Last week, we were excited to host our first-ever “Parent Advocacy Corner” at our Castlemont Academy Center, which serves nearly 70 families in East Oakland. The goal was to educate our parents about some of the key early care and education (ECE) policy discussions happening at the state level, and encourage parents to advocate for their children and kids across the state by urging their elected officials to expand funding for high-quality child care and preschool.
It’s an exciting time for early childhood policy right now in California because Governor Gavin Newsom has made young children and a “Parent’s Agenda” top priorities, and the California Legislature continues to push to make affordable, quality child care and preschool available to families.
Lissete, one of our tremendous parent leaders and parent to two children attending the Castlemont program, joined us to help describe what it meant to be a parent advocate for child care. We set up a table outside the center in the morning, and were ready to greet parents with juice, pastries, bagels – and a call to action on ECE!
Understandably, parents were rushed as they dropped off their kids at the center before heading off to work, or other school drop-offs. But parents spared a few minutes to learn about some of the issues, write a postcard to the Governor urging him to expand child care and preschool to more families, and take a photo to share with their elected officials. As busy and overwhelmed as the mothers, fathers, aunts and grandmas were on this Thursday morning, they expressed how much having access to child care meant to their family and children.
Some parents stuck around longer to learn more, and Lissete and another parent advocate, Robert, were able to tell parents about their experience going to Sacramento to share their stories about the impact of child care directly with elected officials in legislative hearings. These parent voices make sure a difference because too often elected officials aren’t hearing from the people who are most impacted by policies on child care and preschool.
One mother even came back to rewrite her postcard to the Governor – “The first one was too negative, and focused on how preschool prevents mass incarceration,” she said. “I wanted to start out more positive – with all the positive benefits preschool has for children and families.”
Ultimately, we got more than 40 photos and postcards that were shared with the Governor and their elected official to help illustrate to them how the policies and budget decisions they make impact children and families in their communities! See some of those photos and postcards in this Facebook photo album.