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Nurturing the Good Stuff . . . SCAN / Parent Ambassadors

Back in August of this year, my friend Daree sent me an event invitation via Facebook for a SCAN/Parent Ambassador meeting. I didn’t know what this group was, but I did know that Daree was into doing important things for people. She agreed to meet me for a walk and fill me in. Having been a child protection social worker and a day care regulator, I was embarrassed that I didn’t know about this group and the work they were doing. 

Say 'Hello' to . . . 

“Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) (which) was created in 2014 as the political advocacy arm of Save the Children, to be the political voice for kids. [Volunteers and staff] work across the United States to ensure that the issues critical to children’s lives and futures are given top priority by [our] elected leaders, building bipartisan support to make sure every child has a strong start in life.”

Here in Eastern WA, Daree and other good folks have joined the forces of SCAN and the Washington State Association of Head Start & ECEAP (Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program) Parent Ambassadors (PA) program. The grassroots PA program is open to parents involved with either Head Start (federally funded program) or ECEAP (state funded). 

The grassroots PA Pod Eastern WA meets monthly (usually at the Spokane Valley Library) to share successes, identify goals, strategize, meet with lawmakers and representatives, and advocate. 

“Parent Ambassadors assist SCAN’s efforts to advocate for increased investments in Head Start and ECEAP and related children’s programs and are part of a sustainable cadre of parent advocates who can continue to fight for positive social change. Twenty Parent Ambassadors from across Washington State are accepted each year, receive training on legislative advocacy and grassroots organizing, and are responsible for training parents in their local programs and participating in organizing WSA advocacy campaigns.”

 The work of SCAN and PA is incredible!

Values and Mission and Vision . . . 

SCAN’s larger organization, Save the Children, lives by five core values: Accountability, Integrity, Ambition, Collaboration, and Creativity to drive long-term strategies and short-term goals. 

Parent Ambassador’s mission reads, “Parent Ambassadors elevates parents to show up as their authentic selves, claim their seats at tables, amplify their voices and embrace their deep responsibility to leading our diverse communities. Parents and caregivers gain knowledge of advocacy and politics to empower them to advocate and navigate systems in an anti-racist and an inclusive workspace to transform policies that improve outcomes for children, family well-being and community health at local, state and federal levels and to center equity, justice, diversity, and accessibility for all.

Their vision says, “We are a family of diverse parent leaders who are actively engaged in the process of transforming policies in all spaces where families need support to expand access and close opportunity gaps to from birth to adulthood to create strong, resilient communities. We create community where families feel welcome, supported, included, loved, empowered and celebrated to grow their advocacy skills.  We are committed to being anti-racist and supporting all families regardless of race, gender, immigration or socioeconomic status and we empower all parents to be actively engaged in the process of transforming policies and decision making at local, state, and federal levels that affect their children’s outcomes and advance family well-being.”

Bringing the mission to life . . . 

Parent Ambassadors and SCAN delivers by keeping those values, mission, and vision at the forefront. 

Collaboration, ambition, and creativity were used to lead the charge for improvements to the child care subsidy system and the 7.5 million dollars investment in Tribal Early Learning Fund. 

Accountability and integrity is obvious in their regular testimony on key issues that impact children and families including funding for early childhood education, TANF, SNAP and WAKIDS—a kindergarten readiness assessment process.

Ambassadors have been featured in newspapers, TV and radio including coverage on KIRO 7, NPR, KING 5, and KHQ, the Seattle Times and the Washington Post and are regular contributors of letters to the editor - undeniable examples of amplifying their partner voices, putting themselves at the table, and bringing solutions.  

The good work they are doing is spreading because of the community-based, family-centric approach as evidenced by training in Washington DC, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maine, Arizona and New Mexico.

The difference it makes . . .

“Community is at the core of who I am and the opportunities I’ve had with Parent Ambassadors, including my trip to DC has allowed me to see and use the power of voice in advocacy and policy and the trickle down back to my community and encourage others to use their voice and share their stories. Sharing my story with powerful elected officials and being vulnerable and seeing the impact I had firsthand was something I never thought I would experience in my lifetime. It has changed my life, lifted and empowered me and given me the drive to do the same for others,” 2021 PA Maya Washington

The SCAN volunteers and Parent Ambassadors are advocates of change by putting PEOPLE first.  I am grateful for Daree for educating me on how I can join their good efforts. I hope some of you will do the same. 


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