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4 Families Holding Congress Accountable for Change

2023 Strolling Thunder Families at the White House
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Meet four 2023 Strolling Thunder families who came to Capitol Hill to tell policymakers about the policies and programs that matter to them.

Early Head Start has been vital for my family. We cannot ignore the potential there is to reach out to other families, regardless of their income or ability to pay. We cannot allow children of lower income families to be left behind.” 

Samantha C. from Delaware

Think Babies Policy Issue: Early Head Start

After their own difficult childhoods, Samantha and her husband are committed to doing better for their children. Since enrolling in Early Head Start (EHS), Samantha has signed up for every opportunity, becoming involved in leadership and learning as much as she can about her children’s development and her community. 

She has also developed a passion for early childhood education and is taking the steps to pursue it as a career. Samantha knows that early childhood education is crucial to a child’s brain development and wants every eligible child and family to have access to Early Head Start services. She is particularly concerned about the drain of skilled staff from Early Head Start programs as they seek higher wages or other benefits.   

We want to let Members of Congress know that babies thrive best when their caregivers can nurture their children instead of stressing over meeting their basic needs.

Brandy S. from Arkansas

Think Babies Policy Issue: Economic Security

Brandy and her husband Kurtis live in rural Big Flat, Arkansas with 2 children and three Belgian Malinois dogs. They enjoy the culture, peacefulness and beauty of the Ozark Mountains. Their sons are Cypress (3) and Jasper (9). Jasper was diagnosed with Autism at age 3, and Cypress was born the week the COVID quarantine started.

Brandy and Kurtis both work full-time, making a modest incomeThey live paycheck to paycheck. Brandy says the expanded Child Tax Credit relieved stress from their household while allowing the family to thrive and focus on their children’s education and development. She told Congress that families need economic security to do what’s best for their babies and ensure the success of the youngest generation of Americans.

The earlier early intervention plans are implemented, the more favorable the outcomes are. Waiting a year or more just for an evaluation is unacceptable. There are children who are in dire need of services who will not get the help they require.

Sherelle P. from Louisiana

Think Babies Policy Issue: Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH)

Sherelle and Maurice have three children: 9 month old A’miyah, 2 year old A’mane, and 4 year old Amir. When Amir was 12 months old, Sherelle noticed his speech began to regress, he stopped making eye contact and began engaging in behaviors he had not been before. 

Sherelle worked with Amir’s Early Head Start center to get him a developmental screening which recommended he get an Autism evaluation; but then discovered waiting lists were 12 months or longer. With the help of New Orleans-based non-profit, TrainingGrounds Inc, Sherelle was able to get her son evaluated and diagnosed sooner. Sherelle recognizes that families should not have to fight for timely infant and early childhood mental health or developmental services and gave Members of Congress a piece of her mind! 

All we want is for our kids to get a great education, but choices are limited when costs exceed your budget. We should be investing more in affordable, quality education for young children. I’ll continue to advocate for my children and give them opportunities I never had.

Dorothy M. from Texas

Think Babies Policy Issue: Child Care

Child care is a necessity for families to work, but Dorothy M. realizes that families across the country struggle to find affordable, accessible, high-quality child care for her babies, just as she did. 

She lives in an urban area, and even there, found that many centers were at capacity and had waiting lists for months into the future. Some were close and convenient, but she worried about quality. One was a good fit, but ultimately too far of a drive. After a few months on a waiting list, they were finally able to enroll their baby. 

The Future Begins with Babies

Each year, Strolling Thunder brings babies and their parents from each state and D.C. right to Capitol Hill.

Our advocacy team works with each family to tell their story and meet with their Members of Congress to tell them to Think Babies. The event is a cornerstone of our Think Babies™ initiative, a call to action for policymakers to prioritize the needs of infants, toddlers, and their families and to invest in our nation’s future.

Join us in making a difference!

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