New advisory board helps Ohio parents increase advocacy
Monday, October 23, 2023
Ohio parents say they're concerned about the childcare crisis, mental health and gun violence, among other issues that have prompted some to join a new initiative to help them build advocacy skills.
Ugochi Akoi is a member of the Parent Advisory Board, formed by the Children's Defense Fund - Ohio and the Central Ohio Parent Leadership Training Institute.
Akoi said she's had many conversations with moms who've had to leave jobs due to lack of affordable childcare, and said the state needs better to policies in place to support families.
"Universal preschool, the ability for our kids to have free schooling, a full-day preschool opportunity," said Akoi, "which now enables a parent to be able to join the workforce."
According to a 2022 Stanford Center on Early Childhood survey, around 39% of women with small children said they've quit or reduced their hours on the job since the pandemic.
Moms continue to log fewer work hours than non-parents, according to federal data.
Kelly Vyzral, senior health policy associate with the Children's Defense Fund - Ohio, said the first Board cohort has graduated from a 20-week Parent Leadership Training program based in Central Ohio.
The board soon hopes to expand across the state.
"One of the things that the group is working on right now is advocating for the Child Tax Credit here in Ohio," said Vyzral. "It's those 'kitchen table issues' that affect all families."
Akoi added that - across household incomes, race, and other demographics - parents want opportunities for their children to thrive, and be safe and healthy.
"What do parents want?" asked Akoi. "What I've heard from neighbors and friends is really, better outcomes for all our kids, and for our communities and our families."
According to research from Pew, four in ten U.S. parents say they are "extremely or very worried" that their kids or teens are struggling with serious mental health issues.
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