Advocacy Network Year 2 Cohort

Last year, Strategies for Children launched the Advocacy Network for Early Education and Care, a program for educators and leaders in the early childhood field who wanted to expand their impact. Seven advocates completed the first cohort, and are having a positive advocacy impact on their programs, communities, and state.

Now we’re excited about the second year of the program and how a new group of leaders will expand advocacy in their communities. 

“This program is all about the advocacy journey,” Titus DosRemedios, deputy director of Strategies for Children, says. “Last year’s participants went on a journey with us and with each other. They stepped out of their comfort zone, met knew people, learned about policy and ‘Advocacy 101,’ and took new strides in their professional development. They had the chance to speak on panels, serve on committees, write and share testimonies, appear in the news media and on social media, and develop advocacy projects for their programs, classrooms, and communities. This created a powerful ripple effect for the early childhood community, one that we know will continue with cohort 2 and 3.”

This year’s cohort 2 participants are:

Our new program assistant, Jayleese Le Blanc, will provide this cohort with support and coaching. Le Blanc was a former early childhood educator in East Boston, and she is a parent of two young children.

“I feel very grateful to be part of the Advocacy Network. As an educator who had to pause my classroom career to raise children, I understand the importance of advocating not only for children but teachers. This is my first year with a cohort and I’m impressed by this cohort’s variety of perspectives and by their common goal of improving the early education field overall.

“My job has been to support this cohort’s advocates as they step out of their comfort zones, and I’m proud to see how they’ve all used their voices so far, from writing letters to their legislators to speaking in their communities. It’s important for their voices to be heard and for them to amplify the voices of others in early education.”

In the weeks ahead, Strategies for Children will be announcing each of the advocates individually with special posts on social media. This spring the advocates will also be featured on our blog, and the 9:30 call.

MyHanh Barrette, a member of the Advocacy Network’s second cohort, speaks alongside Yolanda Ramos, from cohort 1, at the release of the Early Childhood Agenda at the State House on January 24, 2023

The Advocacy Network is a three-year project that’s generously funded by a grant from Boston Children’s Collaboration for Community Health.

Kelly Marion, CEO of the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center, explained the importance of this work last year when she was a member of the Advocacy Network, saying:

“I don’t think people see how important early childhood education is, and how important high-quality early education is.”

“Our educators need more; they deserve more. And our children need more; they deserve more. The first years of life are the most critical years of life. And if we don’t do our job in early childhood education, then we’re going to have a negative impact on the future of our children. We want our kids to go to kindergarten as prepared as they can be.”

“The more I can teach others about the needs of early childhood and out-of-school-time programming, the better for these fields overall.”

And Anna Ricci-Mejia, who was also part of last year’s Advocacy Network, recalled:

“We had a guest speaker, Senator Sal DiDomenco, who started off in an early education program and went on to become a state senator. He started off so small, and look what he grew into. Listening to him talk, I had tears in my eyes.” 

As we’ve blogged, this experience turned into a conviction.

“I decided to speak up more for children’s sake. Every word counts. I know there’s a lot of frustration; this is a low-paying career. But when you’re compassionate with children, you learn something new every day.”

You can read more about last year’s Advocacy Network here

And be sure to stay tuned for updates on what this year’s group is doing to build a stronger early childhood community that can help build and advocate for a stronger early childhood system.