So much of an organization’s ability to build up the agency of parents is remembering to meet them where they’re at and, understanding the multiple pieces to ensure success. Children’s Defense Fund-MN shows how rooted they are in the whole family through their array of supports: child development, food access and nutrition, public benefits eligibility, health and dental care access.
They are filling the urgent need to create a parent advocacy pipeline for parents of color and American Indian parents, empowering these communities to shape policies within school settings. CDF is implementing training modules and organize parent empowerment meetings. We did a round robin of questions to learn more…
Thanks for reading,
Nyemadi Dunbar, MN Comeback
ND: How do you see your advocacy trainings bringing about change?
CDF: Our advocacy training provides parents with the knowledge, skills and confidence to advocate for issues impacting their families as well as advocate for their children in school. Often times, systems create policies and procedures without talking to those most affected. Specifically, our parent advocacy training helps families recognize their own power and gives them the tools to amplify their voices to affect change. Parents see the connection between the needs of their own children to the broader needs of their community.
ND: As it relates to your advocacy training, what would you like people in Minnesota to know?
CDF: Parents are their child’s best advocate. When you give community the tools to lead, they will work to create the change they need to best help their own families. In a video featured at MN Comeback’s 2017 annual meeting, Bharti Wahi – executive director of our MN office – spoke on what it means to truly have parents at the table. (Check out that clip here.)
ND: How has this/will it affect your work?
CDF: Our advocacy training has allowed parents to make connections with the other areas of government, including engaging in and speaking up during the recent mayoral election.
CDF: In the short term, at the most individual level, we want a parent who feels like they learned something new, discovered something in themselves that aids them in the moments when they need to speak up for their kids. We want more confident parents who feel empowered to advocate on behalf of their children and families. In the long term we want to see systems (schools, cities, child care systems, etc…) change to be more responsive to the needs of children and families.
ND: What’s the next step? Where do we go from here?
CDF: There are two: First, we need to keep moving forward with the training because there is an opportunity to help more parents. Second, making connections with other campaigns or organizations who can connect families to specific issues.
Looking to stay informed or support CDF’s work? Explore their website for more information on how to be voice and a resource!