Parent advocates organize State of Childcare town hall for Washtenaw County

The public is invited to join parent advocates and elected leaders at a free State of Childcare town hall meeting on Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. in the Wolverine room of the Michigan Union. To date, the lineup of speakers includes Ann Arbor City Council Member Linh Song, Washtenaw County Commissioners Andy LaBarre and Caroline Sanders, state Rep. Felicia Brabec, and state Sen. Jeff Irwin. 

In-person attendance will be limited and registration is required to attend. Viewers can also tune into a livestream via Facebook. Anyone is welcome to submit a question for the speakers via the RSVP link. All questions that are not answered during the meeting will be forwarded to the appropriate speaker after the meeting.

"Our hope is that parents with questions will get them answered and that parents who are worried about the future can come together and talk about ideas and solutions," says Cat Hadley, a local parent advocate and one of the event's organizers. 

Hadley says the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to reexamine childcare issues, such as the challenge of affordability and long wait lists, that many local parents currently face.

"Between Facebook, Twitter, and numerous articles, there's just so much information about childcare, possible stipends, and funding revenues," she says. "It's fine if you are a person who has the extra time to track that, but many people don't, so let's all sit down in a room together and talk about what's coming down the pipeline." 

The mother of two is hopeful that attendees will leave with not only information, but also connections and support. She explains that she has often run into county residents who are working on the same issues, but in a different way. She hopes to help separate efforts converge, making them stronger and extending the reach of advocates' resources. 

Hadley is especially encouraging all parents to attend the event and weigh in on what they need.

"Parents' voices are so important at this meeting because we bring something to the table by way of our lived experiences," she says. "That's a really valuable thing to have because it will make programs and solutions much more effective and impactful in the long run." 

Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at jaishreeedit@gmail.com.

Photo courtesy of Cat Hadley.