Parent Spotlight – Dona Hamilton understands ECE as a mom AND provider

Dona and her family dressed up for Trunk or Treat in Sedalia. Dona has worked to hone her skills as a mom, child care provider and ECE advocate.

Dona Leah Hamilton is a mother of two turned child care provider from Sedalia, Missouri. After struggling to find quality child care options in her rural community for her own children, she took the leap to start caring for children in her home. Dona is now working to advocate so that all Missouri children have access to high quality early care and education services. Read Dona’s story below.

Why did you become an advocate for early childhood education?

Primarily, I became an advocate after having a child that I knew required early education intervention, as well as being an in-home daycare provider and seeing the lack of education children were receiving due to a lack of funding and overall unavailability of services to those in this age group. 

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

Times have greatly changed from when many of our representatives and senators experienced what it was like to be a parent with small children. Many parents are now financially forced to be 2 person income households where they are forced to depend and rely on other people to raise and educate their children. In order for a parent to provide their children with early childhood education (if their child does not have a delay or disability), parents are forced to pay out of pocket in order for that child to receive education prior to kindergarten.

Why should Missouri invest more in early childcare and education?

There are strong statistics showing the benefits of early childhood education for children that received it versus children that did not. I know personally from running an unlicensed in-home daycare for the last year and a half now, that I see the lack of both social, emotional, and intellectual abilities in children that do not receive early education or services. Children whose parents were able to financially afford pre-k services were often times friendlier, more socially adaptable to new surroundings and environments, able to respond to peer direction and coaching with more positive behavior, and the list could go on if I had the space to write it!

In one sentence, what does the ideal early childcare and education systems look like for families in Missouri?

Free equal education for all families and children with and without special educational needs.

Final thoughts?

Advocating for your child is so important right now because families are no longer financially able to stay home to parent their children themselves, and at the same time, public schools are beginning to lack the basic funding to keep their lights on and teachers paid bare minimum, and being forced to cut out extracurricular activities and academics that help children to thrive in the first place. 

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