In July, Early Learning Multnomah’s (ELM) Parent Accountability Council (PAC) celebrated three years of guiding investments, changing local systems, and sharing lessons across the country.
The PAC is an intentional part of ELM’s strategy to address the challenges that families of color face around early childhood care, education and health. It is one way ELM disrupts structural and institutional racism by sharing power with and being held accountable to the very families it is designed to serve. Parents from traditionally underserved communities—African American, African immigrant, Asian, Latino, Native American and Slavic communities—form the council.
The PAC had a lot to celebrate this year. Together, PAC members:
- Guided the investment of $8 million dollars in priority communities, ensuring that those investments followed ELM’s Guiding Principles, which the PAC created.
- Created leadership opportunities for parents of color through 11 PAC meetings, 12 planning meetings and four Parent Leadership team meetings involving more than 60 parents.
- Shared the PAC model with other communities across the country: Lydia Gray Holifield and MaryEtta Callier-Wells took the PAC story to the National Black Child Development conference in Orlando and Lupe Campos took it to the national Collective Impact Forum in Boston.
- Had an impact locally by providing coaching to Impact Northwest as they created their own parent council modeled after the PAC.
- Influenced statewide systems: 1) gave recommendations to 211info on how they can better serve communities of color, 2) gave recommendations to the state Department of Education policy change to better serve communities of color, 3) and sent letters to legislators asking for investment in early childhood programs and other supports that families need.
Last year, when the PAC celebrated its two-year anniversary, members said they wanted a louder, stronger voice. With each passing year, their voices grow stronger and become even more central to ELM’s work.
Thank you for all you have done for families, PAC leaders. You are an inspiration and the reason for all we do. We are proud to work with you and follow your lead.