Parent leadership is at the heart of what we do at The Children's Agenda. Through mutual trust and partnership, we combine parents' lived experience with the policy expertise of our staff. From the Rochester City School District to the halls of the state capitol, we help parents organize and speak with a unified voice for what children need.
Getting involved in advocacy can be life-changing for parents:
"The Children's Agenda is the reason why I came out as the parent of a child with special needs. It isn't something I was purposely hiding, but I had no opportunity to share my story until The Children's Agenda came into my life. Sharing my story ignited my desire to advocate, not only for my own child, but for children throughout Monroe County and New York state." -- Kim, mom to Vivian
Read on to hear about the amazing work parent leaders did this month when they went to Albany!
Carmen Torres getting parents and youth fired up on the early morning bus ride
Parents and youth gathering during a break between meetings with legislators
Advocacy Day #1: Solutions Not Suspensions
The first trip was a collaboration with Teen Empowerment. Parents and youth traveled together from Rochester and met up with groups from NYC who are also members of the Solutions Not Suspensions coalition.
Leaving from Village Gate in the dark at 6am, parents and youth were equipped with fact sheets and coached on how to be effective when talking with legislators and their staff.
Upon arrival, they joined with groups from NYC for a rally where speakers included State Senator Robert Jackson, sponsor of the bill, and Isaiah Santiago, a graduate of the Rochester City School District who now attends St. John Fisher University.
Our group filled the halls with purple, wearing t-shirts emblazoned with The Children's Agenda logo. When they met with legislators, they shared stories of how suspensions had affected the lives of their children and families. Their stories made the issue real for legislators and put faces to the data.
The Solutions Not Suspensions bill is currently in the Senate Education Committee (S.1040). To show your support for the bill, send a letter through our Action Network by clicking here.
Advocacy Day #2: Kids Can't Wait
The next week, parents focused on infants and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities. Another early morning departure saw parents, health professionals, university faculty, and students headed to Albany to deliver the message: Kids can't wait!
Upon arrival, they met up with advocates from Binghamton and NYC. Equipped with fact sheets and passion, they met with 12 legislators and delivered packets with information to many more.
Parents shared their families' stories of waiting for Early Intervention services like speech and physical therapy and how waiting put their kids further behind peers. Some were also able to share stories of the life changing difference Early Intervention made when services were provided in a timely manner.
After meeting with parents, Assemblymember Amy Paulin and State Senator Shelley Mayer circulated letters for their legislative colleagues to sign onto, calling for an 11% increase in Early Intervention reimbursement rates in this year's state budget.
You can add your voice by sending a letter today through our Action Network. Click here to send a letter. 919 people have sent letters so far -- let's make it 1,019!
Parents and advocates united are a powerful force!
Parents, health professionals and students speak with a unifed voice!
250+ advocates raising noise for child care at the capitol
Advocacy Day #3: Universal Child Care
The third trip was the largest with 250+ advocates from across New York converging in the capitol to call on legislators to move New York toward quality, affordable child care for all families. Organized by the Empire State Campaign for Child Care that The Children's Agenda co-leads, our bus included 24 parents, providers and advocates from Rochester and Utica.
Going on this trip were two "advocacy marathoners" from our Very Invested Parents group -- Chrissy Miller and Annisa Hines, accompanied by their sons, took part in all three Advocacy Days. That meant three Tuesdays in a row of boarding the bus before dawn and returning home after dark. Thank you for going above and beyond for kids!
To join the call for universal child care, click here!
Help us widen the circle!
Join the VIPs advocacy group
by contacting Carmen Torres at (585) 256-2620 ext. 2613
Help us welcome Isabel Rosa to the team! Isabel is our new Community Advocacy Coordinator. She will work closely with Carmen Torres to engage parents and community groups in advocating for solutions that support children's well-being.
Isabel comes to The Children's Agenda with a wealth of experience in community organizing and is excited to apply her skills to advocating for children. Isabel has lived in Rochester for 25 years and has worked with many of our community partners to organize around health and community safety.
Rochesterians rally in Albany for universal child care (WXXI)
Local advocates go to Albany to push for universal child care (WHEC)
Child care providers say governor's budget lacks workforce investment (Spectrum)
Families waiting upwards of 12-months for early intervention services (WROC)
Local advocates push NYS lawmakers to boost funding for early intervention services (WHAM)
A chance to succeed: Solutions not suspensions in Rochester (Rochester Beacon)
In New York state, students can be suspended for up to an entire school year (Hechinger Report)
Thank You to our Recent Donors!
Alan Ziegler • Dr. Allison Stiles • Carol Tegas • Ernest and Sarah Krug • Harris Saracevic • Jeffrey Nagel • Joe Simsmon • Dr. Joyce Duckles • Drs. Marc and Rebecca Lavender • Meredith Dragon • Paul Tremblay and Dr. Jennifer West • Rev. Ruthellen Hoyle • Sally States • Sarah Mittiga • Todd Krauss and Lisa McCabe • Tracy and Karen Walker
Special Thanks to
Redlich Horwitz Foundation
for funding the buses for Advocacy Days in Albany
Children are young for a short time.
You can make a difference by contributing today.
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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.