Introducing the Child Care Team of Women's Policy Institute-State - Women's Foundation California

“Child care is not just a poverty or investment issue – it is about fundamental human rights.” – Clarissa Doutherd

The Women’s Foundation of California is proud to introduce you to the 2016–2017 class of Women’s Policy Institute–State (WPI) fellows. This visionary group of grassroots and community leaders is embarking on a year-long intensive training program that will enable them to effect change at the center of California’s policymaking: the Capitol in Sacramento.

clarissaClarissa Doutherd is a member of the WPI child care advocacy team, as well as executive director of Parent Voices Oakland. We asked Clarissa to share a bit about her story.

You are a member of the child care team. How did you come to be so committed to child care advocacy work?

My advocacy and organizing work for affordable child care came out of pure survival. I was going to lose my child care subsidy for my then-2 year old son, and maintaining my services was the difference between my family eating or not. As I began to learn more about how other families like mine were impacted, I became deeply committed to lifting up those experiences to create a movement around child care and early education that centers families. I’ve been fortunate in my work at Parent Voices to have the community truly lead my work, inform my decisions, and transform my perspective – this inspires me to get up and keep going every day.

What drew you to the WPI program? Why did you apply?

I’ve heard many colleagues talk about how much they’ve learned in WPI, and I was part of a project funded by the EDJe fund of the Women’s Foundation of California that looked at the experiences of mothers waitlisted for child care. We discussed having a child care team over the last couple of years to specifically work on legislation that would support families through what is a complex system to navigate. There’s been some momentum at the state and federal level to address child care and preschool access, so the timing felt right to participate.
On a personal level, having in-depth knowledge and access to the Capitol through WPI is a critical part of my journey as an advocate. I feel it’s time to deepen my understanding of policy, and engage elected officials and their staff from a different angle than what I’ve been exposed to.

If you could tell Governor Jerry Brown one thing about your issue area and the people most impacted by your work, what would it be?

All children and families across economic, legal, and social circumstances deserve the opportunity to work and build the foundation for a good education that child care provides. Child care is not just a poverty or investment issue – it is about fundamental human rights. We cannot build a sustainable economy without families that can work, and without children who are able to successfully enter and complete school from K-12. Our families depend on those we elect to look at our communities holistically, and not create piecemeal solutions to issues that should be thought about and developed from the grassroots up.

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