On Saturday, September 21, parents and their babies, pregnant people, and early childhood advocates from around the State, will gather for Strolling Thunder Colorado. The group will rally on the patio of The Spring Café, 1373 Grant Street, at 9:30am, and then stroll around the State Capitol. As implied by the title, families are encouraged to include their babies in strollers; parents are also welcome to participate by carrying their babies in wraps, slings, backpacks and more!
The event is being held to bring attention to two critical issues for the health and well being of families with young children: access to affordable, high-quality childcare and paid family and medical leave.
Colorado has a significant shortage of licensed, safe, and affordable childcare options, and there is a growing need for child care facilities due to the increase in working parents. A steady decline of licensed family childcare homes has resulted in approximately 8,000 fewer licensed infant slots in the state over recent years.
“The positive and lasting impact that affordable, high quality early childhood care and education makes on families in Colorado cannot be overstated,” commented Becky Crowe, president and CEO of Clayton Early Learning. “ When parents know their young children are receiving all they need for healthy development in a safe and nurturing environment, they are better equipped to work and provide for their families.”
Also at issue for families in Colorado is the fact that 88 percent of working people do not have access to paid family leave to care for themselves, their newborn or adopted baby, or other family members, and even unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act is inaccessible for 64 percent of working people in the state.
“We know that the first few months after a baby is born or adopted is a time of extraordinary growth, development, and connection for a family,” said Kelly Causey, president and CEO of the Colorado Children’s Campaign. “Yet the majority of working parents can’t afford to take time off from work to spend this critical time with their babies, or take care of them if they have a serious health need.”
Raise Colorado, a local coalition convened by Clayton Early Learning and the Colorado Children’s Campaign, partners with ZERO TO THREE to promote the national Think Babies and Act™ campaign in Colorado, a nonpartisan effort that seeks to make the potential of every baby a priority. Last spring, the organizations sent Ealasha Vaughner, a single mother from Denver, to Strolling Thunder in Washington DC, where she and her children marched on the U.S. Capitol and met with the staffs of several of Colorado’s congressional delegation.
To build local momentum of the national effort, families from throughout Colorado are being activated through additional partnerships with the Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance, the Colorado Association for Education of Young Children, the Denver Affiliate of the Black Child Development Institute, and Guerrilla Mamas.
Before and after the rally, partnering organizations will be on hand with information and a variety of family resources, including free, bilingual children’s books provided by First Book.
Strolling Thunder Colorado is free and open to the public; however, families wishing to participate are asked to register in advance.