Angela Keller is a mom from Columbia, MO. When her daughter Renesmee was born with special needs, Angela and her husband Quentin found themselves taking on a whole new role, not only as Renesmee’s parents, but also as her advocates. They quickly learned how important it is for families who are faced with navigating early childhood services for a child who needs extra support to find their voices, and to speak up so that other families in our state who may find themselves in similar situations in the future can access those services in a much easier and equitable way. Read Angela’s story here!
How did you become an advocate for early childhood education?
My daughter was born as a medically complex special needs child and I knew we were going to have to be her voice. When she was born it was very clear that I would need to advocate for her. Knowing that the education system was not set up for a child like Renesmee to succeed on her own, I knew then that I needed to start learning all I could to help her, while on that journey I learned that here in the Mid-Missouri region that many families do not know what resources there are or where to start when they learn that they will have a special needs child. I knew then that I would need to help and be a voice for the voiceless.
Why do you think it’s important to be an advocate as a parent?
Our children deserve to be treated just like normal children, they deserve all the same opportunities as everyone else, we need to help make society see the problems that children in this vulnerable age and their families are facing. We can no longer ignore the problem in hopes it fixes itself. We need to be that change.
Why should Missouri invest more in child care and early education?
Missouri isn’t known for its special education programs for children nor are they aware of how much families struggle with having a child between the ages of 0-5. The cost of child care is way too much, so much that half of a families income a month goes to childcare costs. That’s not even talking about good quality childcare, the wait list for child care is over a year in some places. Missouri needs to invest in our youngest and most vulnerable children and improve their lives.
In one sentence, what does the ideal child care and early education system look like for Missouri families?
Equality for all, quality for all.
What is one thing you’ve learned about advocacy that you’d like to share with others?
Being an advocate has taught me to find my voice and to be the voice for the voiceless.