ELM’s Parent Accountability Council is generating interest as an innovative model for putting families at the head of the decision-making table in the early learning system and elsewhere.
Last month, Latino Network's Lupe Campos and ELM's Molly Day traveled to Boston to share insights about ELM’s Parent Accountability Council (PAC) at the 2017 Collective Impact Forum, a conference that fosters cross-sector dialogue and peer learning in the collective impact field.
Their “Parent Power” presentation was a unique one because it directly addressed a key question that many conference attendees were looking to answer: How do we know we are serving children and families in a way that works best for them?
“When I first started working on the PAC three years ago, I went to a conference in Chicago and I kept hearing people talk about the importance of family voice and wanting authentic family engagement,” said Lupe Campos, Early Childhood Program Manger at Latino Network. “People want to do it, but they don’t know how. Now, three years later, people are asking the same questions, and we’re building a model for it here in Multnomah County with the PAC.”
The PAC started three years ago in ELM’s first year of managing public investments for early learning in Multnomah County. ELM made it a priority to create the PAC as a way to disrupt deeply entrenched barriers for families of color, immigrants and refugees—groups that have historically not had a seat at the decision-making table.
“In order to have the impact we want, our work has to be shaped by those families,” said Lupe Campos.
In its first year, the PAC developed a set of guiding principles that has since had a ripple effect across early learning programs and partners in Multnomah County, setting the tone for how each of them engage with children and families.
PAC members set investment priorities, make budget decisions, and provide their insight on the early learning programs and services. Their voices have informed policies at partner organizations, as well as at the state and county levels.
“We show them that their voice has value, and that they shouldn’t hold back for fear of the consequences,” Lupe said.