Mariah Roady’s journey into ECE advocacy started when her daughter was born, and she suddenly had a lot of questions around finding appropriate and affordable child care for her family. At home in Kansas City with her family, Mariah now serves as the Development Director at a high-quality early learning center, earlystART, and has the opportunity to see the impact of ECE and early educators every day. Read Mariah’s story below!
How did you become an advocate for early childhood education?
Everything I do is inspired by my role as “mama”.
My journey as an early childhood advocate began with the arrival of my daughter. Becoming a parent was the best catalyst for asking a lot of “whys”. Why don’t providers have enough spots for children? Why is early childcare education SO expensive? Why are childcare workers paid so little? Why don’t we offer universal pre-K? Why are so many early educators leaving this field? Why can’t I find a quality center that offers year-round care? Why is all of this so frustrating?!
I believe these “whys” paired with action is what propelled my advocacy journey.
Why do you think it’s important to be advocate as a parent?
As a parent of a pre-K little learner and Director of Development for EarlystART (an early education school system in Kansas City, Mo), my work, personally and professionally, is motivated by the bold belief that a brighter and more equitable future is within reach.
As a parent leader, I believe in building partnership with the community in order to create a world where all children and families not only survive but thrive. Together, we are stronger.
Why should Missouri invest more in child care and early education?
90% of the brain develops by age five. By this age, children form millions of connections that will inform the rest of their lives. Connections made in the brain occur faster in the first five years compared to any other time in a person’s life. Because of this, children’s earliest experiences and relationships in their first five years are critical for healthy development. Consequently, high-quality early childhood education (ECE) programs are essential. They help children gain the necessary academic, emotional, and social skills and confidence to flourish in school and in life.
For these reasons, Missouri MUST invest in our youngest children and the providers that are essentially raising and teaching our community’s greatest assets – our children.
In one sentence, what does the ideal child care and early education system look like for Missouri families?
Better access and affordability of high-quality early education. Better early educator wages. Better educator retention. Better outcomes that support a vibrant community and future workforce.
What is one thing you’ve learned about advocacy that you’d like to share with others?
Advocacy must equal action. Parent leaders must demand better from our state legislators and civic leaders. We must unite collectively to not only bring issues to light but also must propose tangible solutions that address inequities, challenges, and barriers families in our state face. Our ground game must strengthen.
Further, I believe inherently that education is an agent for change and our community must create collaborative coalition around creating a lifetime of opportunity for our littlest learners and ensuring their zip codes don’t become a determinant of future success. This starts by investing in the systems and individuals that prepare the next generation for success: our early educators. For they are creative muses, parent partners, collaborators, artists, advocates, playmates, and ultimately heroes that impact futures. An investment here is one that will pay exponential dividends.