Parent Spotlight— Jennifer is a speech and language pathologist, child care center owner, parent, and advocate!

Jennifer Partridge is a mom and child care provider from Jackson, Missouri. She and her husband own two child care centers in Southeast Missouri, and she has been passionate about advocating for early education since long before they opened their child care centers. Jennifer recognizes that parents are their children’s first teachers and parents know their children best, and she applies this philosophy in her work as an early educator—encouraging parents to use their knowledge of their children’s specific needs to advocate for them. Get to know Jennifer here!

How did you become an advocate for early childhood education?

My husband and I own two centers in Southeast MO that focus on providing quality care to children with medical diagnosis or developmental delays that have impacted their ability to receive care at other centers. We started our journey almost four years ago when we witnessed several local families struggle to find quality childcare for their children who were experiencing developmental delays. As speech and language pathologists who had worked in both the educational and medical settings, we wanted to create an inclusive educational setting that blended the models while including intensive early intervention services.

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

As parents, we know our children the best, despite any educational degree or political standing. As a result, parents should have the strongest voice in what our children need to thrive and succeed. To do so, we need the ability to be involved at various levels in the early childhood process, including an understanding of how laws regarding our children’s care are being passed and implemented in our state.

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

Research clearly indicates that quality care and early educational opportunities provide the best long term outcome for our children as they develop.

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

The ideal child care and early education system looks like a healthy blend of both private- and state-funded centers that allow families to choose the best child care and educational setting for their individual child’s needs without cost being a barrier.

What is one thing you have learned about advocacy that you would like to share with others?

There are legislators that care what we have to say. I have met with several legislators who genuinely weren’t aware of the issues facing small business owners and parents in the field of childcare and early childhood education.

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