Parent Spotlight – Chiffontae is a mom with experience as a Parents as Teachers professional!

Chiffontae is a mom from St. Louis who is well-versed in the importance of quality care and education for Missouri’s children after working for the Parents as Teachers home visiting program in her city. She uses her lived experiences as well as her professional expertise to be a voice for other moms in her community and beyond. Get to know more about Chiffontae at the link below!

How did you become an advocate for early childhood education?

Working for an early childhood home visiting model really opened my eyes to the importance of education for young children but also how inaccessible to many families quality care can be. Becoming a mother in 2020 truly pushed me into the advocacy space. Seeking childcare during the pandemic was a stark reminder that this fight belongs to everyone.

Why do you think it’s important to be an advocate as a parent?

During my baby shower, I had attendees virtually write notes of guidance to us as new parents and I’ll never forget my friend Monique said, “You will always be your baby’s first and most important line of defense, no matter the situation.” That has stuck with me. It told me that regardless of what institutions are supposed to do, I must advocate for him in those spaces at all times. I cannot place him in school, medical spaces, or otherwise without partnering and advocating for the very best for him. Nobody knows our family story better than us. This is how I advocate for Xavier. With facts, testimony, and my vote.

Why should Missouri invest more in child care and early education?

Not only will we equip future adults with the ability to care for themselves and others by giving them the very best start, the return on investment is immediate. People want to work. People want to provide. In all zip codes. If the pandemic has taught us nothing, it’s that under-funding child care will bring the workforce to its knees if parents cannot work because they have no place to send their children. Parents are also very stressed and children are typically the first to feel the effects of that stress anxiety. Work life balance and parenting education are important parts of lowering rates of abuse and neglect of children. Working families are stronger families.

In one sentence, what does the ideal child care and early education system look like for Missouri families?

Subsidies for many more families, regardless of zip code, immigration/documentation status, criminal record etc, and the wherewithal for ALL centers to provide quality care (without penalizing smaller centers for adapting for their families, but still raises the bar for excellence that helps children prepare for pre-k).

What is one thing you’ve learned about advocacy that you’d like to share with others?

You don’t have to be an expert in politics. You’re an expert of your experience. Keep talking until you run out of truth to tell.

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