(StatePoint) As we celebrate National Family Caregivers Month, advocates say it’s important to not only honor caregivers’ dedication, compassion, and resilience, but to also acknowledge their challenges and aspirations. Doing so can help families thrive. Here are three ways that can happen:
- Put families at the center of efforts to help families.
Ascend at the Aspen Institute uses the two generation (2Gen) approach long used by Indigenous communities in the United States and around the world. This approach recognizes that the goal of supporting families’ well-being and helping children thrive is most attainable when advancing the interests of children and the adults in their lives together. As one example, Ascend worked with a father who grew up in poverty, but now serves on his local school board and informs state efforts to help others experiencing homelessness or poverty.
- Lift voices, build power, expand equity.
That’s the refrain of the Raising Child Care Fund, which advises and supports local efforts around the country to expand access to child care. These efforts work best when they are informed and led by parents and caregivers themselves. As a case in point, a network of advocates and parents in New Mexico worked for 12 years to codify a right to child care and early education within the state constitution.
- Through commitment you can see impact.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has committed itself to some of these principles in its own work, establishing the Family Advisory Committee—a collective of 12 parents and caregiver leaders from across the country with unique and diverse backgrounds, races and ethnicities, and family dynamics. The group has informed funding and grantmaking decisions by the Foundation, and contributed to efforts to align its own family supportive policies with these principles. To learn more about the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s programs aiming to create a brighter, more supportive future for families and caregivers, visit https://www.rwjf.org/.
Initiatives and programs across the country are committed to emphasizing a collective approach that places families at the center of developing effective caregiving solutions. Collaboration is key to engaging families in decision-making processes and internal procedures, and the creation of initiatives that address the diverse needs and aspirations of communities is vital to improve the health and well-being of families today and in the future.