Parent Advocacy Trip to Washington, DC February 1-4, 2016

Parent Advocacy Trip

The parent representatives to the VAHSA Board of Directors boarded an Amtrak with Executive Director, Dawn Ault. It was an exciting trip as some had never been on a train, Metro, or in a cab before! Coming from Hillsville, Roanoke, and Jarratt, the parents each represented a different region in our VA Head Start community, therefore each representing a different Congressional District.

They attended the NHSA Winter Leadership Institute for a variety of workshops related to Head Start, including workshops focused on the themes of: Today’s Political Climate, Leadership Through Change,  Standing Up for Parents in the Revised Performance Standards, What to Expect from Your Congressional Visits, and a Parent Advocacy “Meet Up” session, just to name a few.

(L to R) Cathlene Hernandez, Tywanda Smith and Pam Borders.
Tywanda Smith from The Improvement Association responds to a group question.
Our group with Yasmina Vinci, NHSA Executive Director.
Our group with Yasmina Vinci, NHSA Executive Director. (L to R) Cathlene Hernandez, Tywanda Smith and Pam Borders
    
They were able to meet with many legislators and thank them for the bipartisan support for Head Start funding, especially referring to the FY16 Omnibus Appropriations Bill that was passed in December 2015 awarding Head Start with a $570 million increase. Parents told their personal stories of how Head Start has impacted their families’ lives.
       

Congressmen were able to hear from Cathlene, from Rooftop of VA CAP, about the importance of her home-based model for services, while also sharing some of her goals outlined in the Family Partnership Agreement. Head Start’s mission and wonderful, caring staff from her local agency, Total Action for Progress (TAP), were credited for helping Pam become a first-time homebuyer. Tywanda shared how she became very engaged in Policy Council and ended up being hired by her agency, The Improvement Association. They also shared success stories of early identification of special needs or vision impairments of their children due to Head Start’s comprehensive screenings. The list of important ways that Head Start has impacted children and families goes on! It was an impactful experience to talk with legislators personally, to answer their questions, and to thank them for their continued support for funding.

 

Alex Payne, Legislative Assistant to Rep Bobby Scott

Alex Payne, Legislative Assistant to Rep Bobby Scott (D-03) started the day with insightful conversations about Head Start and the NPRM.
A group picture after a great conversation with Congressman Forbes and his Legislative Assistant Chris Maneval
A group picture after a great conversation with Congressman Forbes and his Legislative Assistant Chris Maneval
After a whirlwind trip, with a little sightseeing too, the group talked during the Parent “Meet Up” session so they could process all that had been experienced. Everyone agreed, after attending conference workshops and speaking directly one-on-one with legislators, this was a beneficial experience. “It was uplifting to know that so many people advocate on behalf of others in need.” “This makes me want to become even more involved.” “Head Start has been successfully working with children and families for 51 years, and I want to help make sure that the funding will be there for generations to come.”
 
Tywanda Smith with her district's representative, Congressman Forbes (R-04)
 
Tywanda Smith from The Improvement Association with her district’s representative, Congressman Forbes (R-04) 
Pam Borders from TAP with her district’s representative, Congressman Goodlatte (R-06)               

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pam Borders from TAP with her district’s representative, Congressman Goodlatte (R-06)

Cathlene Hernandez from Rooftop with her district’s representative, Congressman Griffith (R-09)
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Cathlene Hernandez from Rooftop with her district’s representative, Congressman Griffith (R-09)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dawn Ault would especially like to thank the Board of Directors for approving this expenditure in VAHSA’s annual budget.   “There is no price tag for up-close-and personal conversations with parents and legislators.  We were able to have real dialogue about what really matters for children and families.”