Parent Voices Oakland
Well-intended welfare reform drew thousands of mothers into the workforce at the end of the last century. They went with immense trepidation because quality, affordable childcare was hard to find. Like parents everywhere, they were concerned for the safety of their children and wanted to be assured they were in a nurturing learning environment. Simply put, parents cannot work to support their families if they do not have childcare for their children.
In northern California, mothers banded together in 1996 to form Parent Voices Oakland. A grassroots organization of low-income parents, Parent Voices Oakland advocates for family-friendly policies to advance the well-being of children. Their signature concern is quality, affordable childcare.
Parent Voices Oakland has worked tirelessly to preserve and expand childcare subsidies that allow low-income families achieve economic self-sufficiency. Members have spoken out at the local, state, and federal levels to win lawmakers’ support of critical legislation. In a dramatic victory, timely organizing efforts by Parent Voices Oakland helped prevent draconian policy changes that would have permanently eliminated childcare programs for 35,000 children.
The group offers its members interactive training, peer mentorship, and leadership-building opportunities. It now includes fathers, grandparents, and young parents, as well as working mothers.
Parent Voices Oakland’s families have multiple challenges. They come from low-income neighborhoods, many receive a childcare subsidy, and some have children with special needs. Some do not speak English well. Still others are dealing with homelessness and struggle daily to keep their jobs and families intact.
In Parent Voices Oakland, they have an organization where people represent themselves. They have achieved credibility. The group helps effect social change by developing new community leaders who advocate for their particular needs and respond to emerging issues.
Parent Voices Oakland helps parents channel their love for their children into collective action for economic and social justice. With secure childcare, parents can work and children can learn.
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development has supported Parent Voices Oakland to engage in parent-led, parent-run community organizing and policy advocacy to expand affordable childcare for low to severely low-income families.
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