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We Can Do More for Families to Flourish by Helene Stebbins of the Alliance for Early Success Featured Image
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We Can Do More for Families to Flourish by Helene Stebbins of the Alliance for Early Success

We Can Do More for Families to Flourish

By Helene Stebbins, Executive Director, Alliance for Early Success

In 2023, I had the honor of engaging in passionate debates and honest exchanges as part of the Convergence Collaborative on Supports for Working Families—a group of 32 leaders representing different political, ideological, and industry perspectives—that culminated in a rare breakthrough on these issues. Despite our differences, we were united in a belief that government, businesses, and communities can and should do more to help families flourish.

The result of our work, In This Together: A Cross-Partisan Action Plan to Support Families with Young Children in America, is a blueprint for action that resulted from this yearlong dialogue. Consensus solutions from the report’s findings focus on four major areas for improvement.

  1. Changing the Story: Stories about raising children in America are often inaccurate, unhelpful, or pushed to the background. The story needs to be changed. When families flourish, we all flourish. 
  2. Rethinking Cash Support for Families: Low-to-moderate-income families with young children should have more effective and easy-to-access cash support, while acknowledging fiscal realities. 
  3. Ensuring More High-Quality Care Options for Children: Parents should be able to make care choices for their children that align with their family needs and values and that support their children’s development. 
  4. Supporting Parents with New Children: All parents should have the opportunity to bond with an infant or new child, while maintaining economic and job security. 

I am especially excited about the section on changing the story. Too often the headlines focus on what divides us, but there are things that unite us, like a common desire to help families thrive. Most of us want our policymakers to take action so that families have:

  • access to jobs that pay enough income to meet essential economic, health, and safety needs;
  • relationships of acceptance, belonging, and reciprocity to reduce isolation;
  • networks that help them overcome obstacles, giving them a sense of hope and optimism about the future; and
  • actual choices about how they live their lives and care for their children, aligned with their values and not limited by structural barriers.

All of us who worked on these recommendations believe there is broad consensus around these principles, but we will only achieve the policy recommendations included in this blueprint if we reach across partisan, geographic, and organizational divides.

My deep respect and thanks to the team at Convergence and to Abby McCloskey, the Director of the Convergence Collaborative on Supports for Working Families, and to the Packard Foundation for supporting this conversation. I hope you’ll join us in changing the narrative and building consensus among policymakers to take action.

Helene Stebbins is the Executive Director of the Alliance for Early Success, a national organization that supports state early childhood policy advocacy in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Learn more about the Alliance at www.earlysuccess.org.

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