The last year has been the most challenging, the most tragic, and the most exhausting that many of us have ever faced. As we look ahead with renewed hope, we want to invite you to pause with us, and take a moment to celebrate the incredible community of child advocates that shows up every day with relentless compassion and drive for our state’s families and children. Please join us on April 16th to recognize some of the leaders who make a difference for kids in our state at the Voices for Children Awards!
Cassandra Brooks will receive the Tom V. Child Advocacy Award this year. Like the two previous honorees – Tom Vitaglione, the award’s namesake, and Karen McLeod, the 2019 recipient – Mrs. Brooks is a fierce advocate for children who works every day to make our children’s futures better and brighter. She embodies the spirit of this award with her hope, heart, persistence and partnership.
Mrs. Brooks is the owner and operator of Little Believer’s Academy. Her two five-star child care centers are dedicated to high-quality early childhood education for the primarily low-income communities she serves. Most of the families she serves qualify for Medicaid or NC Health Choice. The state’s child care subsidy program is key in ensuring that these families are able to afford care and go to work.
Fighting for Child Care in a Pandemic
In March of 2020, COVID-19 shut down more than half of child care facilities across the state and left many families struggling with unemployment and lack of child care. Mrs. Brooks kept her centers open, fighting tirelessly to save child care. She advocated for PPE, hazard pay for staff, cleaning supplies, and operating grants for child care programs like hers – while spending long hours scouring the region for milk, food, and cleaning supplies for her own centers. She has organized fellow providers across North Carolina, urging them to remind elected leaders that child care is essential. Her dedication and perseverance ensured that child care continues to serve families and essential workers across the state throughout the pandemic.
Mrs. Brooks is known across North Carolina and nationally as a tireless advocate for low-income families with young children, and for the hardworking early childhood teachers who care for them. The early education field is plagued by low wages and lack of benefits, and the COVID pandemic has further exposed the inequities that early educators face.
Health Care for Low-Income Families
Mrs. Brooks became an outspoken advocate for expanding Medicaid to close the health care coverage gap in North Carolina after losing two beloved staff members to preventable conditions. In 2019, she led a delegation of early childhood teachers and providers who met with legislators across the political spectrum. She helped facilitate a Medicaid expansion roundtable with Governor Roy Cooper. While expanding health coverage has been associated with partisan politics in our state, Mrs. Brooks built alliances on both sides of the aisle, forging strong working relationships with Republicans and Democrats alike.
Recently, Governor Cooper appointed Mrs. Brooks to the North Carolina Council for Health Care Coverage. She also serves on the advisory committee for Wake County Smart Start, the board of directors for the Partnership for Children of Johnston County, and is an Inaugural Member Mentor for NCAEYC and currently serves on the board for the North Carolina Partnership for Children. She also is a devoted spouse and the mother of four beautiful children.
We are so incredibly inspired by Mrs. Brooks and her persistent work for the good of children and families in North Carolina. We are honored to invite you to join us in celebrating her at the Voices for Children Awards on April 16th.
Don’t miss it – Reserve your spot now!
Help us honor Cassandra and the Community Voices Award winners with a sponsorship – find out more here.