Members of the Very Invested Parents (VIPs) group along with Parent Advocacy Coordinator Carmen Torres
At The Children's Agenda, we believe in the power of parents. That's why, two years ago, we organized the Very Invested Parents (VIPs) advocacy group. This dynamic group organizes in the community and directly advocates with policymakers.
We recognize not all parents can turn out for meetings. That's why we also go to where parents are in their everyday lives by reaching out to them through polling. Last month we did our second poll of Monroe County parents. This time we increased the total number of parents polled to 600 parents with a particular focus on representing more Rochester parents.
What families have told us calls for bold action on public policies and funding that provide for the needs of the whole child and the whole family. Read on for highlights of what parents are saying about:
Then take action because action changes things.
Parents see both academic and social-emotional supports as necessary for their children's development. While almost all parents see school-based supports as helpful, confidence that their child's school will provide those supports is lower. Solutions to close this gap start with listening to parents.
1 out of 3
parents across the county do not feel listened to
by administrators at their child's school
The good news is there are evidence-based changes schools can make to improve communication and provide more academic and social-emotional support. Many of those changes can be woven into everyday interactions and instruction and do not require "adding one more thing" to the list of what teachers have to do.
To learn more, check out resources from these leaders in the field:
RCSD students calling for more school-based mental health supports.
of Monroe County parents
say information about whether their child is on track in school
would be helpful
say extra academic support (like tutoring) would be helpful
say extra social-emotional support would be helpful
Learn more about alternatives to suspension that support students and teachers.
Tuesday, October 18
7pm - 8pm
Solutions Not Suspensions
In both Rochester and the suburbs, parents support alternatives to suspension, especially in Pre-K through Grade 3. That number has gone up significantly since our first poll last February. A notable number of parents worry about their children being suspended for minor infractions.
of Monroe County parents support eliminating suspensions
in Pre-K to Grade 3 in all but the most extreme cases
Did you know that in New York schools are not required to provide academic instruction or opportunities for students to make up missed work when they are suspended?
support requiring schools to provide academic instruction
when students are suspended
Monroe County parents support alternatives to suspension like behavioral interventions, social-emotional supports or counseling, and mediation.
Learn more about supports for students and teachers that can reduce the negative impact of suspensions:
Diversity in Schools
Increasingly, parents think school integration and diversity is important. There is strong support for public Pre-K programs with no boundaries on where children live and magnet schools that cross district boundaries. That support has become even greater since our first poll in February 2022.
Research shows that students who attend schools that are racially and socioeconomically diverse:
Additionally, integrated schools:
Learn more about how integrated schools support better outcomes for students at:
Monroe County students working together at a ROC2Change summit.
of Rochester parents
of suburban parents
think it is important for their child's school to integrate students from different racial and economic backgrounds
Rochester community members and service providers learning about culturally responsive mental health services at forum hosted by BIPOC PEEEEEEK.
Mental Health Supports
Parents want access to a variety of mental health supports, including:
Supports are viewed as most helpful by BIPOC parents and parents of children with developmental delays or disabilities.
Although these supports are widely viewed as helpful, questions remain about who has access to these supports? Where do they access them? What are the barriers to access? How are families overcoming those barriers? We will engage with parents around these questions in our next poll in the coming months.
More than half of Monroe County parents enrolled their children in summer programs. For children who did not take part in a summer program, Rochester parents said cost, transportation and no space available are the major barriers. Cost is the major barrier in the suburbs.
Learn more about what makes for a high quality out of school program and the impact they have on kids:
Youth taking part in Woods & Us, an initiative that partners with youth organizations and schools in Rochester to introduce children to the outdoors through hiking, walking or just being in nature with trained hike leaders.
Children's Interfaith Weekend
If you are part of a faith community, consider taking part in Children's Interfaith Weekend on October 21 - 23.
Faith communities and organizations across Monroe County will hold children in prayer and intention and take action on their behalf. This year's action will focus on promoting solutions not suspensions through state-level policy.
Carmen Torres on left with a parent organizer from Grand Rapids, Michigan, at the COFI workshop in Chicago.
A key to success at The Children's Agenda is the leadership provided by Carmen Torres, our Parent Advocacy Coordinator. Carmen is being honored with the Alicia Torres Award from the Ibero-American Action League in recognition for the her service to the community.
This month Carmen also took her leadership nationally. She spent a week in Chicago working with parent organizers from across the country who were convened by COFI, a center for family focused organizing, leadership development and community building centered on the well being of children, youth and families.
If you are a Rochester parent and want to get involved with advocating for changes in laws and policies, send a message to Carmen Torres using the button below or call her at (585) 256-2620 ext. 2613.
Episode 20 - Step by Step
Amanda Wilbert and Stacia Paganelli from Step by Step Pediatric Therapy Services join this episode of Raising Rochester to discuss Monroe County’s shortage of Early Intervention services from a provider perspective. The conversation touches on their backgrounds, the importance of Early Intervention services for children and families in our community, and the workforce shortages affecting the sector in Monroe County and throughout New York State.
TCA In the News
Parents of New York School Children Want More Support for Kids and Families (The Imprint)
Children's Advocacy Group Calls for Culture Shift to Combat School-to-Prison Pipeline (WXXI News)
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The Children’s Agenda advocates for effective policies and drives evidenced-based solutions for the health, education and success of children. We are especially committed to children who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, health inequities and trauma.