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Parental involvement in decision making is key to ending the cycle of poverty: A commentary by Anne Mosle

September 02, 2022

African_american_family_masks_GettyImagesThere is an essential ingredient that gives us a real shot at ending the cycle of poverty forever: parents. It is an election year, and we will hear a lot about “doing right by our families,” but one of the best ways we can do right by families is to honor their lived experience by valuing their expertise. That message was at the heart of our Parent Power panel at the 2022 Aspen Ideas Festival: We can all benefit by engaging parents as partners as we design programs meant to keep children and families on a path to prosperity.

Parental involvement in decision making is the key to advancing policies and programs that support families’ strengths and needs.

For example, Connecticut’s Office of Early Childhood now has a Parent Cabinet that started with a manifesto stating: “To ensure that all children have equitable outcomes in education, health, and life, we must view engaging parents and developing their leadership as ‘Mission Critical.’” Colorado’s Department of Human Services has put this into practice with their Family Voice Council in which “[m]embers share their honest experiences and provide feedback as a guide for the future.” The Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF) listens to a Parent Advisory Group which serves as a “sounding board for decisions, ideas and questions that shape the future of DCYF.”

For the past 10 years, Ascend at the Aspen Institute has worked with leaders in these states—as well as across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico—to move the idea of centering parent voices and lived expertise from the exception to the rule. The next step for nonprofits and philanthropies is to help more policymakers embrace these three core ideas:

Read the full commentary by Anne Mosle, a vice president of the Aspen Institute, executive director of Ascend at the Aspen Institute, and co-chair of the Aspen Institute Forum on Women and Girls.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

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