CHS Blog

Parent Advocacy in Child Care and Early Learning Systems

Parent Advocacy in Child Care and Early Learning Systems
Posted on October 5, 2017 by CHS

According to Child Care Aware, over 1.7 million children under age six in California will potentially need child care services in 2017. The landscape of early learning services in California, including child care, preschools, and Head Start, can be challenging for parents and caregivers to navigate. More than any other stakeholder group, parents and caregivers have an interest in ensuring that child care and other early learning programs meet high standards of quality and safety, and they are in a unique position to observe and understand where and how the system falls short in meeting those standards. Parents and caregivers, as consumers of these services, can be powerful advocates for changes in early learning systems at the local, state, or federal level, including advocating for increased funding and access to services as well as increased quality standards. There are opportunities at various levels for parents and caregivers to get involved in advocacy through governmental or private nonprofit organizations. Here are a few avenues for parents and caregivers to be aware of.

1) Parent Voices is a parent-run, parent-led grassroots organization fighting to make quality child care accessible and affordable to all families. Local chapters of Parent Voices are housed at child care resource and referral agencies (CCR&R’s). Parent Voices combines leadership development, advocacy, and community organizing in its efforts to increase funding, improve quality, and provide better access to child care.  Parent Voices believes in:

  • working toward social change by developing new community leaders to advocate for child care and respond to emerging issues
  • having parents and child care consumers identify our issues, solutions, and courses of action
  • acting with passion and resolve, using a variety of strategies
  • having strong, articulate parents govern the policies of the organization

Learn more about local chapter meetings and opportunities for advocacy through Parent Voices:

2) Child Care and Development Planning Councils: Parents and child care providers can become involved at the county level in issues impacting the quality of child care programs through their local Child Care and Development Planning Council. Local Child Care and Development Planning Councils  serve as a forum to address the child care needs of all families in the community for all types of child care. Consumers, including parents and child care providers, are represented on these councils. The councils encourage public input in the development of local child care priorities. They also foster partnerships between county departments, nonprofits, child care providers, and parents.

See more about Local Child Care and Development Planning Councils and find your local county council contacts through the California Department of Education website:

 3) First 5 California: First 5 California works to convene, partner in, support, and help lead the movement to create and implement a comprehensive, integrated, and coordinated system for California's children prenatal through 5 and their families. Local First 5 commissions promote these goals at the county level.  Local commissions offer resources for parents through their websites. Regular meetings of local county commissions are open to the public and include opportunities for public comment.

Find your local First 5 county commission through the First 5 California website:

4) During the 2016-17 California state budget process, California State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon created the Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Childhood Education. The Commission is a policy driven body tasked with developing strategic solutions to improve outcomes for some of California's youngest learners and their families. The Commission is an effort to strategically plan improvements to the underfunded and struggling early learning system in California. The ultimate goal is to provide more services to needy families and kids across the state through a sustainable system. There are opportunities for public comment at Commission meetings. To learn more about the Commission and find out about upcoming meetings, visit:

5) Children Now is a statewide advocacy organization that serves as the hub for all of the key children’s issues, supporting and connecting thousands of groups in California to create an unprecedented power base for kids. Learn more about key issue areas affecting children and empower yourself with the knowledge to effectively advocate on behalf of children. Join the Children’s Movement and stay up to date on current legislation and other opportunities to take action at

6) Family Voices of California is a statewide collaborative of parent-run centers working to ensure quality health care for children and youth with special health care needs. Family Voices of California seeks to ensure that the voices of families of children with special health care needs are heard at both the State and Federal level when policies, votes, and decisions are made. “We encourage families, professionals, advocates and all those interested in the well-being of children with special health care needs to write or talk to their elected officials about the policies and decisions affecting their children.” See more about Family Voices of California and tools for advocacy at

7) The California State PTA connects families, schools, and communities. PTA is the nation’s largest volunteer-led child-advocacy association working to drive improvements in the education, health and well-being of all children and families. The California State PTA offers some good resources for parents to get involved as volunteer advocates:

8) Parent Organizations for Parents of Children with Disabilities: There are numerous state and federally funded organizations for parents of children with disabilities. These organizations educate parents on their rights and offer resources and training for parents to advocate for their children in the public education system. Learn more about Parent Training and Information Centers, Parent Resource Centers, and Family Empowerment Centers at the California Department of Education website:

9) The California Association for the Education of Young Children is dedicated to advancing excellence throughout the early care and education profession. The CAEYC website includes information on local affiliates, local and statewide events, their newsletter, current legislation, and advocacy resources. See more about their annual advocacy day at:

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