|Principles of Effective Practice|
Principle 5: Programs invite families to participate in program-level decisions and wider advocacy efforts
What it means: Programs invite families to actively take part in decision-making opportunities about the program itself. Programs also invite families to advocate for early childhood education and services for young children and families in the wider community.
Early childhood programs are shaped by many factors, including federal, state, and local policy. Programs also evaluate their own needs and preferences, as well as those of the individual children in their care. The programs NAEYC recognized understand the necessary role families play in making decisions about the program and engaging in advocacy efforts in support of high-quality early childhood education. These programs include families in shared decision making related to the program and community using the following methods.
Program Level—Boards and Committees. For many of the programs, family members actively serve on a formal board of directors that makes key decisions on program policies, personnel-related decisions, tuition rates, and so on. In every program, family members serve on formal and informal committees that plan social and educational activities, raise funds, oversee the building and grounds, and more.
Family participation on diversity committees:
Public Policy Level—Advocacy Efforts. Several programs foster public policy advocacy efforts. The YWCA of Minneapolis Downtown Children’s Center, Community Renewal Team’s (CRT) Locust Street Early Care and Education Program, and Children’s Village Child Care Center encourage parents to advocate at state and local levels for high-quality early childhood education. Program activities include providing voter registration information and training and mobilizing parent participation in letter writing or postcard campaigns, petitions to the state department of education, and visits to legislators.
According to Deby Ziesmer, vice president of early childhood education at the YWCA, “Because the families most affected are often those with low incomes, single-parent families, families of color, or immigrant families, there are numerous barriers to becoming effective political advocates. With our support, the families most affected by decreased state funding for child care assistance talk to elected officials about the impact this has in their lives and the lives of their children.”
Some programs also encourage parents to present important testimony at legislative hearings and other public events or to become involved with organizations that advocate for children’s education. For example,
Developed for NAEYC's Engaging Diverse Families Project through a generous grant from the Picower Foundation.
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