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Strolling Thunder Rhode Island

Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, in partnership with ZERO TO THREE, organized a major advocacy event to bring approximately 40 Rhode Island families with babies and toddlers to the State House. Strolling Thunder Rhode Island took place on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Strolling Thunder™ is the flagship advocacy event of the Think Babies™ campaign, part of a national campaign designed to bring attention to the many issues that affect what babies and families need to thrive. Please see the media advisory, event pictures, Capitol TV segment, and Twitter activity for more information!

We collected the stories and experiences of Strolling Thunder Rhode Island participants, to capture why we need to invest in the early years - and how Rhode Island families are directly impacted by the issues we're working hard to change.

  • "It is tantamount that we focus on the early years of child growth. These are the formative years which impact the rest of their lives. We must give kids the proper start in life to ensure a positive life experience for themselves and ensure they can properly contribute to society." — Jennifer B., Bristol
  • "I know how important the early years of a child's life are, and that our systems, programs, and policies currently do not reflect the research and what we know is best for our youngest children." — Ashleigh B., Cumberland
  • "I would like to live in a society that understands the struggles of working mothers and the high costs of childcare." — Fernanda P., Providence
  • "Parenting is not easy and help is needed and important to a child's development. Having an accessible and affordable support system only makes for a better future." — Cassey S., Tiverton
  • "I believe the health and well-being of a society is strengthened when we invest in and support young families." — Kira N., Providence
  • "Our daughter is an ex-28 weeker. She was born nearly three months early and lost her twin in birth. Early childhood development has been vital in her growth given that she was born so prematurely. Through programs like Early Intervention and WIC we have been able to work on her physical therapy, occupational therapy and nutrition. This has put on right on track for closing the gap between her actual age and corrected age." — Jazzmen J., Providence

Child Care

  • "My hope is for all children to have affordable, quality childcare available to them locally and with flexible hours to support working mothers. Mothers shouldn't feel the guilt or fear of placing their infants or children in childcare. Because infant classrooms can only have so many children, we have been waitlisted for over a year at two facilities that would be more convenient for our family. Instead, I spend an hour a day sitting in traffic driving my daughter to and from a day care facility in the city. I also feel that the state has to provide more incentives for childcare workers because they do a tremendous job caring for and developing our children so that we can return to work and support our state." — Meghan H., Lincoln
  • "I am a proud parent of three young, smart and beautiful young girls who deserve to reach their full potential. Finding availability of high-quality programs at a sensible price is challenging where I live. This is an issue that our family, along with thousands of other families struggle with. The only way I see this being addressed effectively is if our state steps up to help all families, regardless of income." — Marinel R., Cranston
  • "The challenges to my family are affordable pre-k/childcare. It would cost me $30k to send the twins to 5 day, 9-5 pre-k. That equates to one year of community college for the twins. There are wait lists for registration - not enrollment. Employers know that this can be such an issue that they break the law by asking in the first interview question if women have children. For 3 years since having the twins, I have been turned down for jobs due to the kids. If we don't have affordable and ample pre-k and childcare available, we are hurting our children, the community and women in the workplace. " — Theresa M., Cranston
  • "I hope all families in Rhode Island will eventually get to choose among all high-quality child care options for their children without excessive barriers. Personally, I want my children to experience learning opportunities that invoke a love for lifelong learning and build critical skills needed for the rest of their lives. I want them to establish meaningful and positive relationships with their caregivers and peers. And I want them to experience the diversity of the world we live in." — Ashleigh B., Cumberland
  • "My current challenge is not being able to afford going back to work due to the high cost of childcare. I wish I did not have to choose between professional development and staying home with children simply because I cannot afford to send them." — Fernanda P., Providence
  • "The cost of childcare is extremely high, yet the salary of my child's caregivers is very low. I would love to discuss ways of decreasing the cost of childcare while also giving those who work to care for my child access to income that gives them a higher quality of life." — Lillian A., Providence
  • "As a family of teachers, we've struggled to find high-quality, affordable childcare, and I ended up resigning from my job to stay home, in part because I would have been earning just enough to pay for childcare. Now that we're expecting our second child, it's doubly frustrating to feel that we're not supported by our community in accessing affordable childcare that we feel good about. In many ways, staying home has given me opportunities I wouldn't otherwise have had, but it's still frustrating to feel as though I was essentially forced out of my job because we chose to have children. I've been doing a lot of reading about social policies available in other countries, like Norway, Sweden, Finland, and France, and it seems like these countries actually support families through subsidized, high-quality childcare. The US talks a good game about supporting families, but until there are federal programs in place that actually make it possible for families to have children, educate them, and work without feeling beaten down, we don't actually support families at all." — Abby M., North Providence
  • "I am striving to give my daughter the best start possible. My husband and I enrolled her in a high-quality early childhood program at 18 months old because I know how instrumental it can be. We enjoy watching her development every day. Unfortunately, the cost of a quality early childhood program is a financial strain for us, as is the reality for many other working families. I am hopeful that as we think about expanding our family there will be more affordable options. It is important to get a strong foundational start during the years with the most brain development." — Angela O., Johnston
  • "My husband and I both come from families that put a great value on education. We want to build a home for our children that encourages curiosity, and a life-long love of learning. Like many parents, we do everything in our power to ensure her environment is supportive, nurturing, and conducive to the dramatic learning that happens prior to kindergarten. Despite our diligent efforts at home, we saw huge developmental leaps when our daughter started attending part-time daycare at 18-months-old. Having structured time each day where she learns through play and interaction with other children is incredibly beneficial for her. She quickly mastered skills like dressing herself, putting her shoes on, even bathroom skills a few months later. I believe learning around her peers part-time was very helpful for her.

    Balancing the costs and necessity of daycare and preschool/pre-K is challenging for our growing family, even though we are certainly blessed with one steady job and one part-time job, and family nearby to help out with child care when needed. We will do everything we can to ensure our kids receive the best education possible, and will certainly advocate for policies which allow ALL Rhode Island children to receive the high quality education that will set them up for a lifetime of opportunities and choices related to the learning opportunities available to them as young children. It's a shame that paid family leave and affordable child care are not available to all Rhode Islanders. The first few years of critical - I want to do everything I can to help ensure CHOICES and QUALITY OPTIONS are available to all Rhode Island families seeking care for infants and toddlers." — Carlos N., North Providence
  • "Our dream is to have our girls attend the same learning center. Unfortunately, due to the high rates of childcare, our daughters attend different locations for care because it is more cost effective. Also, it is important to advocate for better programs and policies so that there can be a lower turnover rate with educators." — Joanna M., Providence
  • "One of my dreams and hopes is for my daughters to finish schools and to move towards high school in high spirits to broaden their horizons and knowledge. The Genesis Center and Meeting Street have been a couple of the programs in the community that have offered me great support. They have helped my daughters in their development and I have seen the difference in growth in them... I think the first years of development are crucial and important. I want my daughters to have all the help and support I can offer. The resources these programs offer has helped me to collectively give my daughters the best education possible." — Valeria M., Providence
  • "Our family has felt the strain of trying to find high-quality, affordable childcare, and we're solidly upper-middle class. My husband works with many lower-income families and I've heard from him how much they struggle to find childcare in between working multiple jobs that often don't accommodate childcare schedules. In reading about other countries' policies, I've come to feel that until the US offers federal and state programs that support young children, it cannot claim to be a first-world country. Refusing to support families and young children is a clear sign that the government believes families don't matter." — Abby M., North Providence

Family Home Visiting

  • "Healthy Families has been an awesome experience for me and my little girl. I am a first time mom with no experience with children or any family in the area to help out or visit. In the beginning, we were at home a lot. To have someone come once a week to interact with us, check milestones, growth, development, and make learning crafts was such a joy and a pleasure. I have told so many people about the program, how valuable it is, and what a wealth of information it has brought to us. I can't tell you how happy I have been with our visitor Megan. She has been so knowledgeable, and what she didn’t know, she would research and then bring me information. She helped with everything from baby sign language to TV viewing effects on babies. Our experience has definitely been life changing. I can also see the help that the program provides to families in need. I have donated many things to other families through Megan. She is such a tenacious hard worker when it comes to helping families get what they need. I could go on and on about this program and all the positive progress it brings to my family and others." Jennifer B., Bristol

  • "I am a new Mother that is struggling with depression and anxiety. The Parents as Teachers program has helped tremendously, giving me the tools and knowledge to be the best parent I can be. Without this program, I would have not had the confidence that I do as a parent." — Cassey S., Tiverton

  • "Unfortunately I needed an emergency delivery weeks before my due date. As if almost losing my baby wasn't bad enough by then received a triple infection. I was determined to be a breastfeeding mom along with home health aides and visiting nurses. These Rhode Island programs were able to support my decisions and help me power through. Through Healthy Families of Rhode Island visiting nurse programs and lactation nurses even WIC they helped me stay on track to be the best mom I could be, as sick as I was. I'm happy to say that my son and myself was very happy and healthy thanks to these programs. They saved our lives!" — Megan F., Tiverton

  • Wage Supplement/Workforce

    • "The cost of childcare is extremely high, yet the salary of my child's caregivers is very low. I would love to discuss ways of decreasing the cost of childcare while also giving those who work to care for my child access to income that gives them a higher quality of life." — Lillian A., Providence
    • "The early years are very important for child development as it builds their foundation for the future. The work of educators involved with babies and young kids should be just as valued as the work of school teachers." — Katya N., Bristol
    • "As a family of teachers, we've struggled to find high-quality, affordable childcare, and I ended up resigning from my job to stay home, in part because I would have been earning just enough to pay for childcare. Now that we're expecting our second child, it's doubly frustrating to feel that we're not supported by our community in accessing affordable childcare that we feel good about. In many ways, staying home has given me opportunities I wouldn't otherwise have had, but it's still frustrating to feel as though I was essentially forced out of my job because we chose to have children. I've been doing a lot of reading about social policies available in other countries, like Norway, Sweden, Finland, and France, and it seems like these countries actually support families through subsidized, high-quality childcare. The US talks a good game about supporting families, but until there are federal programs in place that actually make it possible for families to have children, educate them, and work without feeling beaten down, we don't actually support families at all." — Abby M., North Providence
    • "Our dream is to have our girls attend the same learning center. Unfortunately, due to the high rates of childcare, our daughters attend different locations for care because it is more cost effective. Also, it is important to advocate for better programs and policies so that there can be a lower turnover rate with educators." — Joanna M., Providence

    Paid Family Leave

    • "As a recent first time parent, I never imagined how much effort it would take to care for an infant. The best weeks for our family were the weeks when both my husband and I were on leave from work, working as a team, and bonding with our daughter. Mothers go through so much in the first year of a child's life and the more the partner can be home with their family, the better. We will never close the gender wealth gap unless we provide affordable quality childcare that allows mothers to transition fearlessly back to work. Universal full time Pre-K would also ease the financial burden on parents and provide a local community for parents and children to engage in." — Meghan H., Lincoln
    • "Being a working mom is so hard. I was lucky to get 12 weeks of paid maternity leave when I had my daughter but it still felt like not nearly enough. This should not be luck, or because I have the privilege to have a professional-level job and can be choosy about my benefits. A minimum paid maternity leave should be guaranteed.

      Our child care center, Beautiful Beginnings, is fabulous, but the cost really stretches us. At the same time I know that my daughter's teachers do not make nearly as much money as they deserve. There needs to be some solution to fill this gap. We have friends and family who cannot afford high quality child care at all and must piece together a patchwork of care. Its not fair that our daughter will be ahead before she even reaches kindergarten because she has been in a high-quality daycare. We can't consider having another child because we cannot afford childcare for two." — Libby M., Cranston
    • "Advocating for better programs gives mother and fathers more opportunities to work without having to stress about the care that their child is receiving. Paid family leave means more time with family in emergency cases or after delivery." — Ashley R., Providence
    • "I strongly feel that all families would benefit from paid family leave, and I am saddened that the US does not currently offer this to families. If our country truly believes in "family values," why are we not supporting families during the most vulnerable, special, and developmentally critical time in a young human's life? All families should be given the time to care for and love their newborns!" — Carlos N., North Providence
    • "Our daughter is an ex-28 weeker. She was born nearly three months early and lost her twin in birth. Early childhood development has been vital in her growth given that she was born so prematurely. Through programs like Early Intervention and WIC we have been able to work on her physical therapy, occupational therapy and nutrition. This has put on right on track for closing the gap between her actual age and corrected age. Children are a population that can not advocate for themselves, so it is essential to advocate that they get the best care and access to good education. Especially since we are a working class family that does not have the privilege or disposable income to take time off, we need paid leave. " — Jazzmen J., Providence
    • "Our daughter was born at 28 weeks, and she spent 10 weeks in the NICU, followed with a year of home services. She was recently discharged with a clean bill of health! Without the incredible support of highly trained home visiting services and early intervention after we left the NICU, and breastfeeding support through WIC, our first year as a family would have been devastatingly complicated and we know Paloma would not be as healthy and developmentally advanced as she is today. We are grateful for these services, but we were able to obtain them through a lot of advocating on our part. We want to make sure that all families who need these services are easily able to access them!" — Kira N., Providence

    Pre-K

    • "The challenges to my family are affordable pre-k/childcare. It would cost me $30k to send the twins to 5 day, 9-5 pre-k. That equates to one year of community college for the twins. There are wait lists for registration - not enrollment. Employers know that this can be such an issue that they break the law by asking in the first interview question if women have children. For 3 years since having the twins, I have been turned down for jobs due to the kids. If we don't have affordable and ample pre-k and childcare available, we are hurting our children, the community and women in the workplace. " — Theresa M., Cranston
    • "I think no family should have to choose between a great foundational start for their children and paying for their rent or buying food. I think better policies can help ensure access to all of Rhode Island's youngest learners. I am excited to see the governor's Universal pre-k rollout. I am also interested in seeing more policies to help alleviate the burden of working families who find themselves paying as much for early education as they do for college. Hopefully something like the federal Child Care for Working Families Act could be replicated and implemented at a state level." — Angela O., Johnston
    • "Research strongly suggests the importance of social interaction at a young age. My oldest child has additional needs and it took a great deal of advocacy for her to access an appropriate Pre-K program. With the change in legislation it would mean that more kids would have access to these critical services to build a strong social framework." — Jaelle L., Woonsocket
    • "As a mother of young twins, I have had endless problems getting my children into early educational and social experiences. Early childhood education is unaffordable (30k per year for the twins) as we don't qualify for subsidies, although we would qualify if they took the cost of childcare into account...We need legislators to get the message out to employers that they can not ask women if they have children in interviews or discriminate. Employers don't care. We need to end waitlists for pre-k by making pre-k more readily available and making it so the middle class can afford pre-k. It should not cost 30k to send 2 kids to pre-k." — Theresa M., Cranston

    Rhode Island KIDS COUNT works to improve the health, safety, education, economic security, and development of Rhode Island’s children.

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