What's Next After WOYC Success?
This year we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Week of the Young Child (WOYC), a week-long celebration of young children, their families, and the important work that happens in early learning programs around the world. An event that started in 1971, WOYC encourages us to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize and support the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs. As part of this year's celebrations, and in honor of our 50th Anniversary, we set a goal of getting 50 proclamations signed by governors, mayors, city councils, and others across America. Thanks to the great work of our NAEYC Affiliates, partners, and members, we not only surpassed our goal but reached nearly 100 proclamations across 21 states and the island of Puerto Rico.
In addition to nearly doubling our proclamation goal, our Affiliates went above and beyond to make the 50th Anniversary of WOYC special by hosting events and ceremonies that highlighted their signed proclamations. Here are some pictures of proclamation events across the country.
But the work cannot stop here. As early childhood advocates, we need to take advantage of the value of these proclamations. We need to turn them into advocacy tools that we can use to educate and that can bring attention to the need for continued public support and investments in high-quality early childhood education for all children.
So what’s next?
Start by using your proclamations as an avenue to work with your policymakers to advance high-quality child care for all children. With funding from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) going to states, as well as the reintroduction of the Child Care for Working Families Act alongside President Biden’s American Families and Jobs Plan, the time to advocate for early childhood education is now.
Here are ways to keep your proclamation momentum moving:
- Follow up with the official(s) who signed your proclamation. Schedule a meeting to discuss how you can move forward with the resolutions signed in your proclamation and outlined in the Whereas & Therefore toolkit.
- Participate in your state’s Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) planning process (Deadline of July 1st). You can provide input to elevate parent and provider experiences, as well as spotlight challenges that exist in your current child care system and offer recommendations on how relief funds should be used.
- Continue to work with your Affiliates and other advocacy partners. Together, capitalize on the relationship you have created by providing officials with resources, research, tools, and/or stories you can share to keep the conversation going and at the forefront of their minds. You are the experts, and you can drive how states plan to stabilize and invest in the child care sector.
- Following CDC health guidelines, invite the official(s) to a child care program in your area. Invite them to see first-hand the work that takes place in an early childhood program. Provide an opportunity for the official(s) to interact with the children by having them read a book or participate in other activities provided by your program.
- Most importantly, don’t stop advocating! Use the relationship you created or built on through this year’s proclamation signing to continue to advocate for the future of our children, families, and economy. Remember, you can build on your advocacy skills by joining NAEYC’s Public Policy Forum. Go ahead and save the date now for the 2022 Public Policy Forum!
NAEYC thanks our Affiliates and our state advocates for their continued dedication and passion for the field. Knowing that our work is not done, we encourage you all to stay active and participate in our advocacy efforts. To stay up to date on NAEYC’s advocacy work, visit NAEYC’s Public Policy and Advocacy page where you can find policy priorities and initiatives. If this is your first time participating in WOYC, we encourage you to become an advocate for early childhood. Visit Become an Advocate to learn more about turning your passion into action.
Michael Kim serves as the Program Manager for NAEYC's Policy and Professional Advancement team.