Tapping National Networks to Amplify
Local Parent Power
Among other partners, The Children’s Agenda drives policy and system change with parent leaders (and with RCSD, for example). A recent national re-grant of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funding to The Children’s Agenda was awarded, in part, by a parent advisory panel – and as a result, our work to expand families’ access to early childhood developmental services is in partnership with the national parent organizations MomsRising, United Parent Leaders Action Network and the Educational Equity Institute.
This month, Carmen Torres, The Children’s Agenda’s Parent Advocacy Coordinator, took part in an intensive series of training sessions led by Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI), a national, Chicago-based training organization. COFI’s training has engaged thousands of low-income African American and Latino parents in improving preschools, schools, communities and public policies across the country.
The COFI Way is rooted in a vision of building a broad movement of parent leaders working for economic, racial and social justice for families. COFI builds the leadership, power and voice of low-income parents (primarily mothers and grandmothers) to improve life opportunities for children and families.
As Parent Advocacy Coordinator for The Children’s Agenda, Carmen welcomed this training opportunity to better understand, partner and organize the advocacy power of the parents with whom she comes into contact. As Carmen says, “It gives you an awareness of other folks, their needs, and the common ground you might have with them.”
The approach is very personal and works from the “inside-out," starting with yourself, family, community, then systems and policy. Trainers and participants share what is important to them both personally and in their community, with the goal of building the confidence of parent leaders to make change. “COFI shows parents how strong they can be,” Carmen said after completing her most recent training module.
Ultimately, Carmen is bringing “the COFI way” to the Rochester community, starting with TCA’s “VIP” (“Very Invested Parents”) leaders.
For more information, contact Carmen Torres.
Virtual Parent Town Hall with the US Department of Education - 7/29
After a year and a half of grappling with the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, students across the country are slated to return to school in-person this fall. However, for many, especially parents, the return to in-person instruction has brought with it a variety of worries, hesitations, and questions:
- Will my child(ren) be safe at school?
- What COVID precautions should I look for in my child’s school?
- How will schools take my child's social and emotional well-being into account?
- Is the vaccine safe?
- Should I get the vaccine?
- Should my child(ren) get the vaccine?
This Parent Town Hall is a unique opportunity for parents to share their ideas and concerns, and to get their questions answered.
Panelists from the US Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will answer parents’ questions and address concerns around the return to in-person instruction.
Parents may submit questions on the registration form. Pre-submitted questions will help plan the content of the session. Time will also be reserved for live questions and answers at the end of the event.
American Rescue Plan Act Can Fund a Monroe County Child Well Being Dashboard
Monroe County received $144 million in COVID-19 relief funding from the federal government as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden. The funding is designed to address revenue shortfalls that may have occurred over the past 16 months since the pandemic began in the United States, provide flexible funding to the county to support businesses and residents struggling from challenges related to the public health crisis, and ensure our economic recovery is stronger and more equitable.
The Children’s Agenda, in collaboration with 14 parent groups and other community partners, is advocating for specific Rochester City School District expenditures for its ARPA funds, and we are also recommending a set of priorities to govern decisions made by local governments and school districts.
A key challenge faced by all levels of government is the short-term nature of this funding. These federal relief funds must be ... (Read more)
Save the Dates - Children's Interfaith Weekend
October 15-17, 2021
TCA Presents at Virtual National CDF Conference
On July 22nd, Sr. Director of Policy and Programs, Brigit Hurley, and TCA COO, Rosa Luciano presented at the Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry (a Children's Defense Fund virtual event) about the year-round nature of interfaith child advocacy activities and the impact that TCA's Interfaith Collaborative has had on local and state policies and funding to meet vulnerable children's needs.
Fierce Commitment Needed When
Grandparents Caring for Children
In 2000, Reverend Marilyn Cunningham had just become licensed to operate a family child care program when a new responsibility emerged. Instead of caring for the community’s children, Reverend Cunningham would instead spend her time raising her two baby grandchildren. Her grandchildren, Kiera and Kieree, were born premature, neither weighing more than 3 pounds at birth. Reverend Cunningham’s daughter was 18 at the time and was planning to attend college in Georgia. Given the circumstances, a decision was made by the family that the babies would remain in Rochester and for Reverend Cunningham and her husband to be the children’s primary caretakers.
Both Kiera and Kieree faced considerable developmental challenges as young children and were eventually diagnosed with autism. Reverend Cunningham became a passionate educational advocate for her grandchildren within the Rochester City School District, ensuring that they received the supports they needed to thrive from Pre-K through graduation. Kiera and Kieree’s mom remained... (Read more)
Rev. Marilyn Cunningham and TCA Senior Director of Advocacy and Program, Brigit Hurley
Welcome Ja'Nai Barber to TCA
This month, The Children's Agenda welcomes Ja'Nai Barber to our team as our new Early Childhood Advocacy Coordinator.
Ja’Nai is currently in her senior year at Roberts Wesleyan College in the Master of Social Work program concentrating on mental health and its effects on children and families and on the community. Prior to attending Roberts Wesleyan College, Ja’Nai attended RIT and graduated in 2016 with dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Criminal Justice and Sociology and Anthropology.
Ja’Nai’s primary responsibilities are to coordinate and execute multi-year advocacy campaigns to win The Children’s Agenda’s goals for early childhood policy and funding reforms. Ja’Nai works to ensure the active participation of parents, caregivers and others directly affected by early childhood issues in leadership roles throughout our campaigns. Other duties include organizing public education, training and direct action events, like community forums, interfaith advocacy, and non-lobbying visits with policy-makers.
Early Childhood Advocacy Coordinator
New Playspace to be Built on Grand Ave
A new Adventure Course is coming to the Beechwood Neighborhood in August 2021! Designed by Beechwood teens and community residents, the project is a partnership between the City of Rochester, Roc the Future, Healthi Kids, Connected Communities, KABOOM! and Strive Together. Come out and join community members for build week, August 11th-14th! Click here to register.
Ms. Ashley-Stava - Charles J. and Burton S. August Family Foundation - Mr. George Bauer - Mr. & Mrs. Jim and Carmen Brush - Ms. Amie Bush - Ms. Lois Camphausen - Ms. Susan M. Carter - Ms. Jen Cathy - Mr. and Mrs. Danny and Rina Chessin - Rev. & Mrs. Alan and Suzanne Dailey - Davenport-Hatch Foundation - Mr. & Ms. Timothy and Christine Farnum - Mr. & Mrs. Michel and Beverly Faro - Mr. Robert Genthner - Mr. Joseph Gersitz - Ms. Barbara M. Green - Ms. Mary Jo Green - Ms. Gina Horowitz - Mr. and Mrs. Ronald and Elaine Johnson - Mr. Joe Kelly - Hon. Joan Kohout - The William & Sheila Konar Foundation - Mr. & Mrs. Gary and Debbie Leary - Ms. Lilita Lassen-Ward - Dr. Sarah Leddy - Mr. James E. Lesch - Mrs. Mary Ellen Lopata - Mr. Andrew MacGowan, III - Dr. & Dr. Albert and Jean Mangold - Ms. Rochelle McDaniel & Ms. Christine Fields - Ms. Marcia Meagher - Mr. Brian Meath - Ms. Barbara Mitchell - Ms. Sarah Mittiga - Ms. Margery Morgan - Mr. Ed Muszynski - Mr. Roy O'Connell - Mrs. Mary Margaret Palmer - Dr. Lori Peloquin and Mr. Ted Retzlaff - Mr. Karl Rosengren and Ms. Sarah Mangelsdorf - Mr. Paul Tremblay and Dr. Jennifer West - Mrs. Deborah Ward - Ms. Nancy Woolver
We'd like to thank both the ESL Charitable Foundation and the Greater Rochester Health Foundation for pledging their support of our recent Community Children's Briefing. Their continued support means so much to our mission.
Sustaining the work we do together is only a click away. Making a monthly donation to The Children's Agenda supports our efforts to help children who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, health inequities and trauma.
The Children's Agenda
1 S. Washington Street
Rochester, NY 14614