Photo courtesy: http://usa.childcareaware.org/about/2017-child-care-aware-of-america-policy-summit/
You may be wondering how you landed on an article written by a CPA that is not related to a technical issue? Allow me to explain. Recently, my wife and I received an opportunity to attend the Child Care Aware® of America's 2017 Family Advocacy Summit. This 3 part series will take you through the journey that I experienced on the road to advocacy in the midst of "tax season" and why it's important for my work as a CPA.
It's fair to say that each of us has a cause we feel strongly about. One cause I feel strongly about happens to be high-quality educational opportunities for all young children, birth to age eight. This probably hasn't always been true for me, but ever since I began dating my wife, Amber Jones, 15 years ago, I have slowly watched myself become more actively involved in this cause as well. One of my favorite college memories I look back on is the "Aggie Football Day" my wife organized at her early childhood center in 2004 where she invited myself and a handful of my teammates from the New Mexico State Football team come to meet the children in her classroom and spend the day "playing" alongside them. At the time I didn't really understand the impact that day had on those children and their families, but today I see some of those children via Facebook who are now in High School playing football and beginning to think about college. By connecting on social media, those children have also watched me and former teammates successfully graduate from college and go on to serve in a variety of leadership capacities as accountants, college professors, engineers, and policemen. And this all stemmed from one day of volunteer time playing in a preschool. Supporting my wife and her passion for early childhood in conjunction with becoming a father myself, I have found myself steadily moving from behind the scenes of early childhood advocacy to the forefront and for good reason.
The Business Connection
So why does the business community need to support early childhood advocacy efforts? Allow me to explain. The short term benefit of having access to high-quality child care is that it allows the community to retain talented employees and reduce the stress that new parents often experience when leaving their children in childcare. Speaking personally, my wife would have dropped out of the labor force completely had we not been able to secure high-quality care for our two children. When I see my children's smiling faces as they greet their teachers at school, I leave each morning knowing that they are happy, safe and in an environment that is stimulating both their intellectual growth and also their social-emotional growth. Trusting that my children are in good hands takes a huge burden off my shoulders and enables me to be fully present in the workplace.
There is also a long-term benefit, which I think is just as important. As our future leaders, I want all children to have enriching experiences gained from high quality early learning experiences. As stated in the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council's book titled, Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation, "Children's health, development, and early learning provide a foundation on which later learning- and lifelong progress- is constructed." It is no longer debatable that the early years of a person's life play a significant role in who that child will become later in life. I often hear people across disciplines say that "children are our future" and I believe that to be true. In 18 years when the babies being born today enter the workforce, I want to know that they have the skills necessary to be successful and that begins in early childhood.
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
So on a very busy day in February, Amber alerted me that she had completed an application to be a Family Advocate through Child Care Aware® of America. After the application was submitted I thought to myself, "If she gets the opportunity she can share my perspective from a business standpoint, too". After all, I am the introverted one in the family that likes to stay behind the scenes. Fast forward to March, one of my busiest times of the year. Amber lets me know that the application was accepted and Child Care Aware would like to honor her as the Family Advocate representing Arizona at the Family Advocacy Summit. I was so proud and excited for her to have the opportunity to do what she enjoys most- talk about early childhood issues! Then she followed up with, "and they also invited my spouse!" I'm extremely appreciative of Compliant Campaign, an Arizona Company that sponsored this opportunity for me to attend alongside my wife. In the midst of hectic work life, we managed to coordinate logistics with family and our children's school in order for the both of us to be able to head off to D.C. the following month to attend the summit on behalf of all families with young children in Arizona.
But first, I needed to ask for the time off at work. Fortunately, the firm I work for not only values its employees but also encourages and supports community involvement. The firm has technology that allows the employees to continue working from the road, so if the need were to arise, I could continue to serve our clients while at the Summit. With childcare secured and airline tickets arranged, my wife and I began our journey as local community advocates to the national stage to be a voice shaping national policies for children and families across our Country.
Stay tuned for Part II of our journey where I will go into detail about our experience at the Child Care Aware® Family Advocacy Summit and my experience advocating as a business leader and accountant on Capitol Hill.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 coming soon...
Institute of Medicine and National Research Council (2015). Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation. The National Academies Press. Washington D.C.