“The system is so broken, it feels overwhelming,” said one parent.
“Siento que nos falta mucha ayudar nos falta que se nos trate con igualdad,” said another. (I feel that we are lacking a lot of help, we are lacking equal treatment.)
At forums organized by Equity from the Start, a joint effort of the Together for Kids Coalition (an Edward Street-driven collaborative) and Clark University, parents, caregivers, and early educators are speaking out about the state of childcare.
“Our community still does not value our youngest children. This must change,” said a third participant.
Equity from the Start was informed by a Community Needs Assessment class taught by Laurie Ross, Ph.D., Professor of Community Development and Planning Department of International Development, Community, and Environment, Clark University.
Now, graduate students in Ross’s Community Development and Planning Practicum are finishing the job by interviewing families in three neighborhoods that have been identified as ‘early childhood resource deserts.’
The ultimate goal? Raise awareness with local, state, and federal leaders and lawmakers, with an eye on lasting change.
“The Equity from the Start project is connecting data points and instigating conversations with leaders, funders, and community members to address the lack of accessible affordable early education and care. Families are telling us what they need and as a community we need to respond with urgency so that all children have the strongest possible start.” said Eve Gilmore, Edward Street CEO.
Get involved: Attend the June forum! https://onedrive.live.com/view.aspx?resid=F233B8EE484214FD!436&authkey=!AF9YYgm3Q-A-bWk
Public meetings, public comments, and public appeals for change
Those who attended the first forum in April–organized as a Data Walk, shared concerns about the high cost of childcare and other resources for children and families.
Equity from the Start noted comments like:
- “So many kids don’t have access to basic resources.”
- “Parents have to choose between simple and necessary things because of the cost.”
- “We’re feeling frustrated that we know, and we see, the problem but when will change be created?”
Still, attendees were grateful for the opportunity to share their experiences and buoyed by the prospect of change.
“Gracias a estas reuniones podemos hacer conexiones y podemos abogar por la necesidad de nuestros niños,” one parent noted. (Thanks to these meetings we can make connections and we can advocate for the needs of our children.)
Get involved: Stay tuned for more information about the June 28th forum by following us on Facebook and LinkedIn!
Equity from the Start is far from finished
An Equity from the Start Summit will take place in June , and decision-makers such as Senator Elizabeth Warren are expected to attend. The gathering will replicate the data walk in which attendees can read and respond to information collected by Equity from the Start.
Warren and colleagues like retired State Senator Harriet Chandler and freshman State Senator Robyn Kennedy have been advocating for equitable, high-quality childcare for years.
Equity from the Start hopes raising the voices of voters will spur change.
“Other people need to hear this,” Ross said. “These are the voices of people who are struggling to pay for childcare so they can work.”
Get involved: Stay tuned for more information about the June 28th forum! https://onedrive.live.com/view.aspx?resid=F233B8EE484214FD!436&authkey=!AF9YYgm3Q-A-bWk