Voters often express frustration that issues many of us care about are ignored by legislators in Columbus. It seems to many that instead of trying to improve the lives of parents and families, politicians are instead focused on the latest culture war issue of the day. A new advisory board aims to change this and give Ohio’s parents a voice in the legislative process.
Meaningful Engagement in the Legislative Process
According to a joint statement, “The Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio (CDF-Ohio) and the Central Ohio Parent Leadership Training Institute (COPLTI) formed a new Parent Advisory Board that connects parents driven to build out their advocacy skills and civic engagement with state policy advocates to build capacity for parent leadership in Ohio and strategically collaborate on policy priorities informed by the perspective and expertise of caregivers directly impacted by widespread social issues.”
This partnership aims“to meaningfully engage parents as experts in policy advocacy to drive positive change in a wide-range of issues facing children and families across the state. According to recent polls, these issues include the childcare crisis, mental health, gun violence, and education.
New Board Member is Listening to Parents
Public News Service interviewed Ugochi Akoi, a member of the Parent Advisory Board.
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 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.”
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.”
Advocacy Groups Hope for Positive Change
Kelly Vyzral, Senior Health Policy Associate with the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio says, “Parent voices are vital to ensuring policies are effective and work better for the very families they are designed to support,”
As a child advocacy organization, we understand that centering the foremost experts in child well-being – the caregivers who navigate the services, programs, and policies their children rely on every day – is absolutely essential to improving the lives of Ohio’s children. We’re grateful for how this partnership will improve our advocacy on their behalf.
Karla Poole, Executive Director of the Central Ohio Parent Leadership Training Institute (COPLTI) adds, “I am excited to see how this Parent Advisory Board will provide even more opportunities for Ohio parents to be change agents for children, whether that’s by meeting with lawmakers or providing testimony, or perhaps by hosting events to boost awareness of issues impacting their communities. We hope this efforts will lead more organizations and decision-makers to engage parents as experts in policy advocacy.”
The announcement notes that six parents from Central Ohio will serve on the Parent Advisory Board through the end of this year, with plans to expand participation by number and geographic representation in the future.