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To start, I am a 25 year old mommy of three, all under the age of 6!!  As most parents do I think my little ones are amazing and I wanted to be as active as I could in their educations and lives.  I got started in Head Start a year ago and with my oldest son and quickly got involved in the Policy Council.  From there I learned of the Parent Ambassador program through Washington State Association of Head Start and ECEAP, and applied for it.  Since then I have been on the move and trying to stay as involved in the policies that affect my children and family as well as all other families and children.   The program encouraged me to use my voice to speak out on matters that are important to me and to advocate on behalf of my children.  This has become my passion, and is why I will be in Olympia over the next year sitting in on sessions and speaking with my law makers on many important topics.

Today was my first session.  As I pulled into the capitol’s visitor parking I thought, wow, and here it goes!   I found my way to the O’Brien building, where I sat in with the Early Learning & Children Services Joint with Education, Education Appropriations, and Ways and Means Committee.  All of that means people who create and pass/or kill bills for children’s education.  My main goal here was to listen to the conversation that was going on about ECEAP funding, and a pre-kindergarten proposal.

The hearing room looks like a courtroom except instead of having one judge’s chair; all of the Representatives have chairs and microphones.  Then there is one table in-between the Reps and us “common folk” for the presenters.  On behalf of Early Learning Betty Hyde, from the Department of Early Learning and Randy Dorn, Superintendent of Public Instruction presented the comprehensive plan for early learning that Governor Greigoire asked for.  (Just a brief history on that the governor wanted a plan on having early learning accessible for all children not only high risk families.)  I was completely inspired by Randy Dorn who was very passionate about his work and the families and teachers that he represents.

As a parent who is affected by these decisions I was trying to stay planted in my chair and listen when I really wanted to jump into the conversation and give our reps some insight from their consumer, since it has all to do with me (and you!!)  Randy Dorn did a great job at explaining the importance of reaching the families and children that are in need of services such as mental health, health/dental, that they may not know about and the importance of teaching children right from the start.  Birth-k and really through 3rd grade programs are a must to assure all children  get off on the right start regardless of race, income, health, or where they reside.  Many countries already fund programs that allow all children to have the same quality education and we MUST get that for our children within the United States.  It is necessary to make Early Learning a part of Basic Education.

Until next time ,

Cecily  : )

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