Sarah Gould is a passionate ECE provider, advocate, and most importantly, mom, from Joplin, Missouri. Her journey into the space of ECE advocacy started with her own journey into young motherhood, where she learned the struggles to self-sufficiency firsthand, and has since made a career of helping other families navigate their own path to self-sufficiency. Read Sarah’s inspiring story below.
How did you become an advocate for ECE?
My story starts when I was a pregnant teen trying to find child care for my son (now a college grad). I was unable to find quality child care that could meet my family needs, and my clingy infant. I then lived with my in-laws and became an Early Head Start Parent, through which my husband and I worked hard to become self-sufficient, bought a house and started an in-home child care center helping other families who have gone through the struggles of living in poverty and battling to self-sufficiency.
I found it hard to navigate the supports that families needed to provide for their child and family. The support systems are very different and paths to self-sufficiency for children and families are very different from one family to the next. Accessing these supports has been a challenge and unless you have someone to walk you through the challenges and support you it is hard to be successful.
Why do you think it’s important to be an advocate as a Provider?
I feel that as an early childhood professional, the only way to make a difference is to have a voice for those affected and educate others.
Why should Missouri invest more in child care and early education?
Missouri should invest more in early learning because children are the future. We have been on a whirlwind path with the same problems for decades. Investing in early learning is a win-win for everyone because families are supported and that in turn reduces stress factors for families. And that in turn reduces crime rates by creating more productive citizens and starting in the most crucial times of brain development. This will improve the education levels of all of our citizens and more families will reach self-sufficiency.
In one sentence, what does the ideal child care and early education system look like for Missouri kids and families?
All children receiving the education supports in the setting that fits the families’ needs and goals.
What is one advocacy tip you can share with other providers or ECE advocates?
When asked to share a tip to others in the field, I can only say the following:
- What fits for one doesn’t fit for all!
- Do what is ethically right always.
- It takes initiative to make change.
Our children deserve better, and we only get better by learning from mistakes, taking the initiative and standing up and doing better for a brighter future!