On Thursday, March 23, 2023, 116 Head Start staff, parents and members of the ECE community from 40 different organizations joined the Head Start to the Capitol Advocacy Day in Sacramento. This was nearly triple the turnout from the previous year. The day began with a morning training where participants learned about how to tell their Head Start story to elected officials, how to grassroots advocate at home, followed by a march around the capitol, and ended on the Capitol’s West Steps. Three programs sent a busload of staff and parents, while some parents joined us from Southern California and flew on a plane for the first time.
Participants met with 52 legislative offices to spread awareness of Head Start and ask for a reimbursement rate increase (a joint request of the ECE Coalition of which Head Start California is a member). Overall, legislators and their staff were supportive of Head Start and happy to hear from parents and program leaders. One participant stated “The people in [the legislature] really do want to talk with you. We all have a voice.”
Some parents attended as first-time advocates and were grateful for the opportunity to learn about the legislative process, stating “I learned how to advocate for programs for our children” and “I learned what it means to speak with legislators at a state level.” The training is meant to help parents learn valuable lifelong advocacy skills that are transferable to other issues that are important to them.
When asked about their favorite part of the day, it’s evident that the trainings and meetings were a beneficial experience, but the march came out on top. The energy of the chants, the colorful signs and the camaraderie of marching for one cause with a unified voice made everyone proud to be part of the Head Start community. “Loved marching and being noticed! Everyone honking at us and encouraging us was awesome!
We owe a special thank you to our trainers: Stacey Scarborough from Venice Family Clinic, who also serves on the HSC Board of Directors; and staff and parents from Kidango including Maeva Marc, Stephanie Fuentes, Sandra Tapsik-Weaver and Yara Hidalgo Barajas for helping to train and prepare our advocates for their meetings!
Head Start California is thankful for everyone’s participation, enthusiasm, and love for Head Start!