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Advocates prepare to rally around children

by Joe Gamm | March 6, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

A series of workshops that begin next week will lead to Missouri's Child Advocacy Day on March 22.

Child Advocacy Day (which will take place online this year) is intended to bring advocates from around Missouri together to urge legislators to support policies and programs that uplift children and their families, according to the Child Advocacy Day website,

Casey Hanson, director of outreach and engagement for Kids Win Missouri, said the rally, whether held in-person or online, manages to connect a lot of people from across Missouri who share the same goals of improving health and education opportunities for children.

Despite this being the third consecutive year the event is to be primarily virtual, it is significantly attended, she said.

"We end up connecting with a lot of folks," Hanson said. "The last couple of years, it's been a thousand. There will be hundreds of people from around the state who will be able to participate."

People who take part in the event will receive a chance to better inform themselves on issues through the workshops. They will also network with like-minded advocates before meeting with their senators and representatives to champion the hot topics of the day.

The effort is organized by Kids Win Missouri, Generate Health St. Louis, Kansas City School District, Missouri Children's Trust Fund, Missouri Kids Count, Parents as Teachers and others.

Missouri Alliance for Children, Youth and Families started Child Advocacy Day in 1982 with the goal of serving as a statewide network of citizens and community-based organizations tasked with improving coordination and communication among child and family well-being advocates, according the site.

The site gives a schedule for the workshops, each of which will be offered through Zoom.

The rally week begins at noon Tuesday, with an advocacy day lunchtime kickoff. It is to include a preview of the week and lessons on advocacy. This first workshop ends at 1:30 p.m.

An online social hour and networking event is to take place 6-7 p.m. that evening.

There is one event 11 a.m.-noon Wednesday -- "Supporting Postpartum Coverage for Every Mother."

Event organizers have been working with partners from across the state, particularly some who have been conducting research on how postpartum coverage improves health, who will lead the discussions during the workshop.

The single event on Thursday, "Policy and Insights into Missouri Early Learning," takes place 9-10 a.m. This workshop is to be led by Craig Stevenson, Kids Win Missouri director of policy and advocacy, and Linda Rallo, of Aligned, a coalition of Kansas and Missouri business leaders focused on early education. It will focus on research around pre-kindergarten and utilization of funding for pre-k. It will also look at the use of detentions and expulsions in pre-k. Organizers have invited legislators to the workshop.

"(Detentions and expulsions are) very disproportionately applied to students of color," Hanson said. "It's something we've been looking at with national partners as well for the past couple of years."

Friday will feature two workshops -- "Children's Issues and the State Budget," from 11 a.m.-noon; and "The Bridge from Child Welfare to Child Well-being -- a Panel of Perspectives on the State of Child Welfare," from noon-1 p.m.

Two afternoon workshops on March 21, promise to look at popular topics -- "Child Advocacy Eve Prep Session - Hot Topic and Engagement Tips," occurs 1-2 p.m. "The State of Children's Mental Health in Missouri: What's Next?" occurs 2-3 p.m.

The week culminates on Child Advocacy Day, March 22. "Morning Kickoff and Updates with the Office of Childhood" takes place 8-9 a.m.

"Ready to Thrive -- the 2022 Child Advocacy Day Rally" begins at 9:15 a.m.

Child Advocacy Day organizers had to decide in December and January, when the Omicron variant of COVID-19 was surging whether to hold the day in person. They chose to stay on the safe side, Hanson said. People still want to, and probably will, travel to Jefferson City to rally in person, she said.

One way or another, the rally will be in Jefferson City next year, she added.

Print Headline: Advocates prepare to rally around children


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