I have found myself more involved in the politics that surround the early childhood field. Advocacy in our field is wide and deep. You can advocate for quality, you can advocate for teacher pay and benefits, you can advocate for making regulations less or more stringent, you can advocate for Higher pay, and so many other worthy things. As president of the Arkansas early childhood association this year I find myself speaking for many of these things. One of the campaigns the association is sponsoring with the Arkansas Advocates is called “Leaders Learning with the Littlest.” It is a great time to invite leaders into our home me or facilities to have a one on one conversations about what is important to us and also for them to see what high-quality care looks like and also what it feels like.
Today the chamber of commerce director stopped by. Why is it important that he stopped by? As he brings people in to the city of Siloam Springs he needs to know that there are amazing places for their children to be cared for while they are at work. He needs to know that family childcare homes exist as part of that solution. Interesting part of our conversation was that we talked about how in preschool we begin teaching soft skills that is much needed in our workforce today. He was impressed. He was also impressed by the fact that a large percentage of early education teachers are food insecure, meaning they do not have enough money left at the end of their pay period to provide meals for the family. Isn’t that ridiculous and sad at the same time ?
Our next visitor was the city administrator. He had a background in city zoning – it was nice to talk to him about how cities should be friendly to family childcare homes. I explained that zoning does not keep family childcare home from opening it only keeps them from being regulated and having the oversight needed. It also keeps them out of the loop for all of the technical assistance and education that makes any facility a better place to be.
Our last visit arrived a little late but I am so glad they came. Grace Davis, who actually lives two doors down came with Ken Ramey the Siloam Springs school district superintendent. What a sweet man he is. He talked a lot about partnerships and collaborations and continuing the conversations long after days like today about how to serve the families in our community.
Grace Davis and Ken Ramey
It really was a wonderful day to be an advocate. You would be proud of your kiddos and how they welcomed our visitors into our school family and how they behaved while they were here. Hopefully, we are growing tiny little advocates that will grow up and change the world.