Reflections from a Child Care and Early Learning Family Advocate
By Sosha Chaney, Parent Advocate
Child Care Aware® of America believes that every family has an important perspective to be considered when making decisions in child care and early learning programs, state systems and nationwide. We recently sat down with Sosha, a vocal child care advocate, so she could share her journey into advocacy with you.
- Access to reliable, education-based child care that meets the needs of families working non-traditional hours;
- Affordable, high-quality child care options; and
- Funding and support for early childhood programs that offer wraparound services to families.
My first family advocate through Head Start, Katie, encouraged me to get more engaged in my children’s child care setting. Her support and the relationship we shared gave me the confidence to be a voice for all children and families in my child care program. My second family advocate, Kayla, helped me keep that same spark alive and empowered me by telling me that in sharing my truth I had also helped her to keep speaking up for families. I saw my truth shining through other people who I had always thought were different from me! Many staff in my child care program have encouraged me along the way. Advocacy has opened new opportunities for me and the connections I have made with others around me will last a lifetime!
What challenges have your experienced as an advocate?
One of my biggest accomplishment and fear as an advocate has been speaking on stage, on camera and sharing my story with thousands of people that I don’t know! One challenge in sharing my story is the realization that not everyone will like what I have to say. I am still working hard to overcome this challenge with grace. I am open and willing to listen to others and truly enjoy hearing their perspectives. Rather than just stating the concerns you have, I have found that people are more willing to listen and take action if you suggest a solution that you believe will help solve the problem. I can humbly say I am nailing it!
What advice can you give other families who want to help bring awareness to the child care issues that are important to them?
Keep at it especially when you have negative energy surrounding you. Don’t give up! You’ll never be able to ignite change if you give up! Learn how to clearly communicate your message, especially when the topic is something you’re extremely passionate about. Remember that you are a leader and all leaders fail sometimes. It’s what you do once you fail that counts! Everyone has resources and relationships that they can use. The truth of your experience as a parent and the knowledge you have to share is truly powerful. Lastly, you must show up! I believe in prioritizing all things so you can bring your best to the table.
Now that you’ve found your feet as a child care advocate, what’s next?
Running for office! Maybe the school board, city council, or even mayor. Who knows? Hopefully my passion for helping children and families will naturally lead me to what’s next.
When you share your child care triumphs and struggles with Child Care Aware® of America, you can help communities and policymakers identify what works, prioritize the changes needed, and develop innovative strategies to advance a safe, affordable, and high quality early care and learning system that works for all families. Are you or do you know a parent who’d like to share their child care advocacy story? Let us know!