Advocacy That Builds Parents’ Power: A Brief

Published: February 2023

Type: Publication

Summary of What States Learned about Partnering with Parents

Sheniqua Jeffrey's Headshot
Headshot of Dr. Stephanie M. Curenton-Jolly
Laura Ottoni's Headshot
Mariah Brothe Gantz Headshot
Julia Bigger BW
Headshot of Melly Kitenge

CEED and CEI partnered to produce this brief, which summarizes the report, “Advocacy that Builds Parents’ Power: An Evaluation of Efforts to Center Parent Voice in Early Care and Education Advocacy Ecosystems.” The brief shares an overview of the report, the findings from the evaluation, and perspectives from parents about the findings.


Finding 1: All states made structural shifts to better center parents in their advocacy efforts.

Finding 2: States that progressed the most on centering parent voice used an organizing approach, rather than mobilizing.

Finding 3: States that are making the most progress on engaging parents impacted by structural racism are using an organizing approach led by people of color.

Finding 4: States have had to work on engaging ecosystem partners not yet fully aligned on how and to what extent parents should be engaged.

What Happens Next

RWJF has committed an additional year of funding to this work, but this funding is not focused explicitly on EHS/HS and IDEA advocacy. Instead, there is a broader focus on economic inclusion for children and families. State advocacy leads and their partners are now planning their next steps, which include the following :

  • All nine states have committed to continuing their partnerships with existing or newly created parent groups.
  • Six states will focus on building parent leadership, seeing this as the next step to engaging a wider base of parents and distributing power among parents and not just parent organizers.
  • Four states are planning to focus on relationships between decision-makers and parents to continue to underscore the role of parents as experts and to grow decision-maker champions.

The parents we talked to are interested in inviting others to participate in their groups and increasing the number of parents involved. They also would like to exercise their increasing power by advocating for greater compensation for their time and involvement, as well as more opportunities for professional development.

Download the brief in the link above. For the full report, access the content here.