Child advocates build power together across North Carolina

By: Adam Sotak | November 2020

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Record numbers of North Carolina voters made their voices heard at the ballot box this year. Now that it’s becoming clearer who will be representing us in Raleigh and in Washington in the year ahead, it’s time to get to work for kids and families. COVID-19 is still ravaging our health and economy – and children from Black and brown families are bearing an outsized impactNow more than ever, we need a powerful network of advocates that are ready and willing to speak out for policies that give all children a chance to survive and thrive.

The NC Child Advocacy Network (CAN) brings child advocates including parents, pediatricians, nurses, social workers, youth leaders, and faith groups together from across the state to speak with a unified voice for North Carolina children.

Growing a Network of Local Advocates

The people who are most impacted by challenges like poverty, inequality, and lack of health care, understand the problems – and potential solutions – bestThat’s why NC Child is committed to building and growing multi-issue, multi-racial local “hubs” across North Carolina. These CAN Hubs bring together and lift up the voices of local advocates. They support key issue campaigns such as funding for early childhood education, and Medicaid expansion. Although each hub sets its own priorities, all the CAN Hubs share a commitment and passion for improving the lives of children and their families through local and state policy change.  

NC Child supports the following four CAN Hubs – including our brand new hub in Guilford County: 

Guilford Child Advocacy Network
Lead agency: YMCA of Greensboro 

We are excited to welcome the YMCA of Greensboro as the lead hub agency for the new Guilford CAN. NC Child has been working with local advocates in Guilford County for over a year to prepare for this launch. Guilford community advocates are focused on issues like student mental health and family economic security. The Guilford CAN will use the strengths of local organizations to develop policy and legislation that directly benefitthe children and families most in need. Ebony Burnett, Family Services Director at the Hayes-Taylor Memorial YMCA branch will be coordinating the effort.  

“Our strength is in our numbers,” Burnett said. As a powerful collective voice, organizations in Guilford County can speak out on behalf of the voiceless and for the rights of those who are over-burdened. 

 The challenges that our children and families face cannot be solved by one organization acting independently. Real and lasting change can more effectively be accomplished when we focus our efforts, strengths, passions, and missions on a common goal. 

Western NC Child Advocacy Network
Lead agency: Children First / Communities in Schools of Buncombe County

Much of the Western NC CAN’s work supports the Western NC Early Education Coalition, which is made up of more than 14 organizations serving 18 mountain counties. Through the support and coordination from lead hub agency Children First / Communities in Schools of Buncombe County, the WNC CAN engages a growing regional network of child advocates working together on issues such as accessible and affordable early educationschool safety, expanding Medicaidand raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction. WNC CAN members have met with state and local elected leaders across the region to advocate for a pro-child and pro-family agenda that reflects the needs of Western North Carolina.

Wayne Child Advocacy Network
Lead agency: W.A.G.E.S, Inc.

Wayne CAN, developed in 2018, engages local community membersleaders, and organizations as advocates for policies that support child well-being. Local CAN members are most concerned about issues such as school safety, access to quality and affordable education, racial and ethnic equity, and access to quality health care. W.A.G.E.S. serves as the local hub agency, providing support services for children, families, and seniors aimed at combatting poverty.

“Our vision at WAGES is that everyone has the opportunity to achieve their optimal potential,” said Patricia Beier, Executive Director. “We want every child to have the opportunity to be the best that they can be, and to have their optimal potential without any artificial barriers, without disparities, without lack of equality.”

New Hanover Child Advocacy Network
Lead agency: New Hanover County Resiliency Task Force

Since 2019, the New Hanover CAN has engaged community members and leaders as local child advocates through the leadership of the New Hanover County Resiliency Task Force. The Resiliency Task Force has focused its efforts on addressing social determinants of health and the connection to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Local CAN members have worked together to advocate for Census funding, Medicaid expansion, and funding for early education. They share a vision of building a resilient and compassionate community that is family-focused and trauma-informed.

CAN Hubs have diverse membership and help build support for the important policies that make a real difference for children and families. Together our growing statewide network is a powerful voice for North Carolina’s children. 

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