How This Local Leader Makes Supporting Moms Policy

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On Mother’s Day, many families will either spend precious time with their moms or celebrate the legacies their moms left behind with fond memories.

Municipal leaders across the country know that having a thriving and vibrant community means supporting mothers. This commitment to families is seen in the policies and practices that cities, towns, and villages implement.

For well over a decade, the City of Rochester, New York has served as a model for other municipalities who want to promote and support families. Its mayor, Lovely Warren, is committed to ensuring all children reach their potential. Mayor Warren convened an early learning council, and— based on its recommendations—launched the 3-to-3 Initiative to give every 3-year-old in the City of Rochester the opportunity to develop the academic and social skills necessary to succeed in school and in life by the time that 3-year-old completes third grade.

Municipal leaders have a stake in how well children in their communities are doing. Investing early will mean better academic outcomes, less crime, better health outcomes, a more prepared workforce, increased earnings and less spending on social services long term. Not only is Mayor Warren known to champion for young children, but she is also known to advocate for the most vulnerable.

“I am proud to be the first mayor of Rochester who is also a mother,” said Mayor Warren. “The insight I gain each day from this important role informs every decision I make as mayor, including making sure our recreation centers offer after-school services with hot meals; eliminating library fines on children’s books to encourage early reading and altering the criteria for affordable-housing programs to match the incomes of our city’s families.”

The Early Childhood Success team at NLC strives to ensure that member cities have the resources and tools they need to ensure that every child and family is thriving in its city, town, or village. NLC family engagement efforts have helped local leaders support young moms, single moms, moms in general, and grandmas in raising children in thriving environments.

Rochester is committed to aligning its early childhood system, coordinating activities across the learning continuum, and working regionally and locally to align efforts to ensure smooth transitions and a holistic approach to early childhood care and education. Grow-Rochester, a comprehensive screening program for 3-year-olds, is a product of the city’s alignment and collaboration with community and regional partners to support children and families. Rochester also engages in NLC’s Cities Supporting the Early Childhood Workforce initiative to ensure early childhood providers have the support and resources they need to provide a quality early learning experience so all children in their care thrive.

“As a mother, I recognize that there aren’t many others who are more invested in our city’s future than other mothers. Anything I can do to make their jobs easier will only make me more successful at mine,” says Mayor Warren.

A community that supports and is responsive to new and experienced moms, their young children, and their families, recognizes a mother as a child’s first and forever teacher. As mayor of Gary, Indiana, and president of NLC, Mayor Karen Freeman Wilson demonstrates a similar motherly love for her city and is committed to making Gary a community for all generations.

Every year we set aside a special day to lift up the parents who give us life and the tools and skills to succeed in life, and who inspire us to serve and lay the foundation for others to carve out their place. To improve your municipality’s capacity to reach across communities, align programs, design policies, and ultimately build systems that are responsive and supportive of young children and their families, learn more about NLC’s Early Childhood Success initiatives here.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Nancy Lim small

About the Author: Nancy Zuech Lim is a program manager at NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.