It is our pleasure to introduce New Moms’ inaugural Parent Advisory Council — or PAC for short! The Parent Advisors are a group of eight amazing alumnae from across all New Moms programs who were selected from a pool of nominated applicants. The Parent Advisors are committed to sharing their experience and wisdom as young moms to improve our programming for future families.
As one of the Parent Advisor put it, “I can share my opinions on what I believe will help the program remain successful. I can relate to most mothers who have or will become a part of New Moms programs. I am also an outspoken person who wants opinions and ideas to matter.”
Since its debut, the PAC has had three meetings over Zoom in which the Parent Advisors have spent time getting to know one another, brainstormed ideas for improving program recruitment and outreach during the pandemic, and explored ways to support young moms enrolling and persisting in post secondary education.
New Moms’ goal for creating a Parent Advisory Council is to improve the effectiveness of our services by prioritizing the expertise, insight, and recommendations of young moms who experienced our programs firsthand. Young moms know best what their families need to succeed. By centering their voices, New Moms hopes to co-design and grow programs that better address the needs of the families we serve.
“We believe that families are the experts in their own lives,” said Dana Emanuel, Director of Learning and Innovation at New Moms. “As the experts, they should be at the center of setting their goals for the future and also creating the programs that help them achieve the goals that they set.”
The current Council is made up of eight moms all with cross-program experience at New Moms. For now, Parent Advisors will serve a one-year term and anticipate meeting 6-8 times this year, although this could be redefined by future councils. Parent Advisors are paid for their time and expertise. While New Moms staff helped shape the framework of the council, the goal is that the advisors will not only sit at the table, but also set the table in the year(s) to come. Parent Advisors are key ambassadors and thought partners and over time will have additional opportunities to lead at New Moms.
When creating the PAC, New Moms staff talked with our peers in the field and reviewed new research on how to build an authentic participant-led advisory council. This process helped us build a guiding framework.
“We aren’t the first. There are a lot of agencies that are doing this really well,” said Melanie Garrett, Chief Program Officer at New Moms. “But we see the importance and the value. If you think about the Black Lives Matter movement and what happened this summer, that was led by young people. Young people have energy, power, wisdom, and experience and we want to tap into that. Young people are really creating change and so we need to make sure we’re working in collaboration and following their lead.”
Many of the current Parent Advisors said they see the PAC as an opportunity to pay forward the support and benefits they received from New Moms.
“The program really helped me become a better person and I would like to help others have a great experience as well,” said one Parent Advisor.
When advisors applied for a spot on the Council, many also shared their commitment to women’s empowerment — for future moms and themselves.
“I feel like it’s a great way to give back by being a voice for other young mothers. This opportunity will help my growth in leadership as well.”
This Council has been a long time in the making, and we are excited for its successful launch. It would not have been possible without the planning, prepping, and facilitating of key staff members including: Chief Program Officer Melanie Garrett; Director of Workforce Development, Gabrielle Caverl-McNeal; Director of Learning and Innovation, Dana Emanuel; and Family Support Specialists, Andrea Serna and Noemy Cespedes.
If you are inspired by this project, you too can support New Moms’ Parent Advisory Council! A donation to New Moms ensures that we can provide the platform, the technology, and the compensation for Parent Advisors as we improve our programs.
Click here to make a gift today! Donate: www.newmoms.org/donate
Posted on March 17, 2021
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