By Erika Ditzman
After eight months of bi-monthly meetings, 19 out of 20 (95%) parents graduated from the first Parents Advocating for Child Care (PACC) Fellowship on June 9, 2021. The PACC Fellowship was a paid parent advocacy program developed by the Wisconsin Partnership. Parents in five communities across Wisconsin were trained to identify important changes in childcare and how to be an advocate for those changes using data. Prior to training, each fellow was questioned on their understanding of how the government works and what child care information is available to them. Two-thirds of the fellows admitted that they did not have this knowledge.
Following the fellowship fellows were asked an identical questionnaire with an opposite result:
A majority of fellows put this knowledge into effect, as 13 fellows wrote a letter or email to at least one elected official. 11 fellows discussed child care and the fellowship with others. Seven fellows posted on social media. Other advocacy included one fellow speaking with a local business about the importance of child care, and another being interviewed by the media.
There was personal growth in each fellow as well.
“Parents should have a lot of power to change policies and decisions, but I don’t know if they really do,” said one fellow at the beginning of the program.
By the end, though, their opinion had strengthened.
“Through advocacy, they (parents) can influence local, state, and federal employees/agencies to promote changes they wish to see in their communities.”
Fellows also experienced an increase in confidence and belongingness, as another fellow suggested that the experiences of other parents made her “feel better that [she] wasn’t failing as a parent.”
What is the Wisconsin Partnership (WIP)?
The Wisconsin Partnership is composed of four StriveTogether organizations including Achieve Brown County, Building Our Future (Kenosha County), Higher Expectations for Racine County and Milwaukee Succeeds. Each organization was awarded the Strategic Initiatives Fund (SIF) grant, allowing for the creation of WIP.
Every Child Thrives in Watertown was also a part of the fellowship but is not a part of StriveTogether.
Published: September 1, 2021