Partnership, Pictures, and Plans: Reflections on an Early Childhood Jewish Education Site Visit with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky
On Wednesday, September 7, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) experienced the beauty of early childhood Jewish education as she engaged with, and even danced with, her youngest constituents, students at JCC Chicago Beth Emet in Evanston. Congresswoman Schakowsky’s visit is an example of an important advocacy approach: inviting legislators as partners into our programs. During her time at Beth Emet, we thanked her for her ongoing support, shared about the Jewish Early Childhood Collaborative, JUF Chicago, and JCC Chicago, and discussed the current child care landscape. We laughed, and we cried. The successful visit ended with pictures, hugs, and a shared understanding that the child care system requires long-term, federal funding.
After her visit, Congresswoman Schakowsky amplified the main child care issues from our conversations on her Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages: "Child care costs are up, while teacher pay remains low. All families deserve access to affordable early childhood education and teachers deserve higher wages. Let’s do it.”
In the beginning of her post, she expressed the joy from her visit: “No better way to start the day.” And those of us in her presence could not agree more. Congresswoman Schakowsky’s visit, besides being enjoyable, left us feeling optimistic and energized: optimistic that our legislators represent the interests and needs of families with young children and energized to continue engaging in the advocacy work necessary to advance robust child care investments.
Advocacy is an ongoing endeavor within many levels of influence from our daily interactions with children and families to our partnerships with elected officials. The journey is challenging; disappointment and frustration often ensue. But it is meaningful opportunities like this one with Congresswoman Schakowsky that leave a strong impression and provide lessons to continue along the advocacy path:
When greeting Congresswoman Schakowsky at the start of the visit, she looked me straight in my eyes with an intensity I had never previously experienced. It was an affirming feeling. I knew her commitment to showing up that day was not just something to check off a list; she was there for a purpose--to partner with us in efforts to affect change. And, yes, there was “no better way to start the day” than engaging in advocacy for child care and early learning!
Ilana Dvorin Friedman
Early Childhood Policy Analyst, JUF Chicago
For more information about organizing a site visit or showcasing EC advocacy efforts on the Shma Koleinu website, please contact Ilana Dvorin Friedman at IlanaFriedman@juf.org