2009 Parent Ambassadors

2009 was the inaugural year for the WSA Parent Ambassadors program. Our 2009 crew set a great standard for future years, and had an impressive record of advocacy success!

2009 Parent Ambassadors:

  • Kylee Allen, Skagit Islands Head Start
  • Keith Angotti, Children's Home Society Early Head Start (Walla Walla)
  • Bianca Bailey, Kittitas County Head Start/ECEAP
  • Mary Braae, ESD 113 Sound to Harbor HS/ECEAP/EHS
  • Cecily Dilworth, Tacoma Public Schools Head Start
  • Heather Gerrard, Snohomish County ECEAP
  • Tafra Jones, Puget Sound ESD Head Start
  • Lucy Kee, City of Seattle ECEAP
  • Brandy Larsen, Lewis-Clark Early Childhood Program
  • Maria ‘Goretti’ Manzo-Kittelson, Community Child Care Center (Pullman)
  • Carmella Martin, Puget Sound ESD Head Start
  • David McCormick, Snohomish County Head Start
  • Sara Pearl, Community Child Care Center (Pullman)
  • Melody Quinn, Spokane County HS/ECEAP/EHS
  • Lizandra Sandoval, Puget Sound ESD ECEAP
  • Stephanie Scherling, Mid-Columbia Children's Council
  • Mandie Swainston, Puget Sound ESD ECEAP
  • Connie Woodhouse, Puget Sound ESD ECEAP


2009 Successes

Our Parent Ambassadors had many successes in 2009, and we wanted to share just a few:

Ambassadors Mobilize to Prevent Cuts to ECEAP
The most tangible success so far has been the work ambassadors did in preventing deep cuts to ECEAP—our state’s preschool program. Because of their work the program was only cut by a less than 2 percent, despite the budget crisis in our state. Ambassadors did the following:
Educated parents and staff in their local programs about the legislative climate.

  • Mobilized ECEAP parents and staff to contact their lawmakers via the phone and e-mail. Over 3,000 e-mails were sent to state lawmakers as a direct result of ambassador mobilization efforts.
  • Met with lawmakers at our state capitol. Ambassadors met regularly with lawmakers and helped organize opportunities for parents and staff to join the campaign and come to the capitol.
  • Testified at appropriation and budget hearings. Several ambassadors presented testimony to key committees about the need to preserve funding for ECEAP.
  • Authored several letters to the editor and participated in media interviews. In particular, we had two very active ambassadors that started a letter to the editor campaign.

Ambassadors Help to Develop Child Care Subsidy Legislation
Many of our ambassadors have found that the child care subsidy system does not work for them and their families. They brought their concerns and policy recommendations to the Director of our state’s department of early learning several months ago via a conference call. As a result of their work the department is in the process of drafting legislation to make the changes requested by our ambassadors including changing the authorization periods and capping co-payments.

Ambassadors Have Seats at Many Key Early Learning Tables
One of the most effective elements of the parent ambassador program has been the success we have had in getting the “parent voice” at key decision making tables. Here are just some examples:

  • Three ambassadors sit on the Department of Early Learning’s parent advisory group.
  • Ambassadors are involved in the state’s early learning planning process.
  • Ambassadors are members of the state wide early learning coalition. The coalition is in the process of developing a “Parent Caucus” which we would co-convene with Moms Rising. The Parent Caucus will be funded by dollars from the Gates Foundation.
  • Ambassadors are involved with the National Head Start Association’s Government Affairs team and take part in monthly conference calls.
  • One Ambassador was appointed by Governor Gregoire to serve on the state's Early Learning Advisory Committee.

Local Advocacy Training

Ambassadors took the lead on creating a ‘Fall Blitz’ effort to train parents in their local area and educate parents about issues important to low income families and ways to advocate.

ECEAP Champion Award

Ambassadors worked in partnership with Every Child Matters to create an “ECEAP Champion” event in Bremerton in October honoring the work of Representative Kathy Haigh.

Ambassadors meet with federal officials

Eight ambassadors went to Washington D.C., where they met with each of their lawmakers, developed their own training session for other parents at the NHSA Leadership Conference, and provided strategic comments to key early childhood leaders including Joan Lombardi, the new child care administrator, the new head of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare, and legislative staff.

Another ambassador arranged for his Congressman to visit his own program.  As a result of the meeting, Rep. Larsen told our ambassador that he has a much better picture of how Head Start works with the whole family and not just the child.

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