Clayton Early Learning
26Mar/15Off

Speak Up for Kids: Advocacy in Action

Peter Blank

On March 18, Clayton Early Learning co-hosted the 4th annual Speak Up for Kids event at the Denver Art Museum and the State Capitol.  Together with the Colorado Children’s Campaign and Children’s Hospital Colorado, Clayton sponsored the event to prepare partners across the state to advocate for children and build confidence in engaging their legislators.  With great turnout and active participation, another successful Speak Up for Kids day is in the books!

The focus of the advocacy at Speak Up for Kids day this year was on supporting two generation strategies that promote self-sufficiency and student success. Specifically participants learned about House Bill 1194 and several funding bills for early learning that are currently being considered in the legislature. House Bill 1194 would authorize a $5 million state investment to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to continue an existing program that increases access to long acting reversible contraception as part of the CDPHE’s family planning efforts. This bi-partisan bill provides the opportunity to reduce unintended pregnancy and abortion in Colorado, support the health and education of women and children, and reduce reliance on government programs.

The investment bills that were discussed by the advocates and their state legislators focused on access to preschool, full-day kindergarten, and affordable child care which are some of our most cost-effective strategies to supporting children and families. Current legislation that was highlighted included:

  • House Bill 1024 which would add 3,000 new slots for part time or full time preschool under the Colorado Preschool Program
  • House Bill 1020 which would improve funding for full day kindergarten and help districts expand their kindergarten facilities if needed
  • The School Finance Act which could likely include the expansions for the Colorado Preschool Program and Full Day Kindergarten
  • The Long Bill, or the legislature’s appropriations bill, which could include line item funding for the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) including an increase to help with the implementation of the CCCAP revisions from last year

The legislation discussed during this year’s event is of great importance for all members of Clayton’s diverse family– from the policy advocates to parents and community members, to teachers and kids.  Sena Harjo, a community based Child Family Educator and two year member on the planning committee for Speak Up for Kids believes that the event “… gives parents and families an opportunity to speak up for kids and have their voices heard at the hill.”  She also thinks that “…it gives the parents a chance to see how policy trickles down from the capitol to affect their daily lives.”  Speak Up for Kids also offered a setting for Buell Early Childhood Leaders alumni and current cohort participants to come together to network, practice their advocacy roles, and even serve as advocacy coaches.  There were 17 registered Buell leaders for this year’s event!

Each one of these unique perspectives is not only evidence of the breadth of work at Clayton, but also highlights how many people are positively affected by the continued advocacy demonstrated at this year’s Speak Up for Kids event.

It is important to keep in mind that this advocacy work doesn’t end with the Speak Up for Kids event – there is more work to do!  All voices were welcomed at the event and everyone is encouraged to continue advocating for kids.

If you want to get involved and advocate on behalf of children in Colorado you can:

  • Call and email your legislators. Reach out and share your thoughts on this year’s legislation.  Everyone is welcome and encouraged to reach out and express their opinions with their legislators. Click here to find your legislators’ contact information.
  • Testify in a committee hearing. If you have a passion for a particular piece of legislation or issue, you can testify at a committee hearing. To testify you just need to show up at the specific committee hearing for each piece of legislation and sign up.   A calendar of the Senate committee hearings can be found here.  A calendar of House committee hearings can be found here.  More information on testifying at committee hearings can be found here.
  • Sign up for KidsFLash! KidsFlash is a weekly e-newsletter from the Colorado Children’s Campaign that offers helpful analysis and discussions on all things kids, including legislation and advocacy. You can sign up for KidsFlash here or by visiting the Colorado Children’s Campaign website.

 

On the Steps of the State Capitol [Image Source: Colorado Children's Campaign]

On the Steps of the State Capitol [Image Source: Colorado Children's Campaign]

 

Questions?

Contact Lauren Heintz, Policy Specialist at Clayton Early Learning, for more information or assistance on getting involved in the advocacy process. Email: LHeintz@claytonearlylearning.org. Phone: 303-393-5623.

 

 

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