Family Leaders Reflect on the National PN-3 System Building Meeting

When Lettie Hicks first received the news that she was going to Baltimore for the National PN-3 System Building Meeting, organized by the Prenatal-to-Three Capacity Building Hub, as a Baltimore Ravens fan, her first reaction was joy. The excitement soon turned to focus on the work at hand, representing Raising Illinois and parent leaders.

As the conference began, she quickly realized that there didn’t seem to be many other parents around. Forever the friendly mother, Lettie sat down with other folks and began a conversation. Despite initially feeling like she didn’t belong, Lettie bonded with people by sharing about the thing every parent is happy to speak about – their children. No matter the different professional backgrounds, everyone around the table shared the enthusiasm to talk about their kids. As Lettie puts it: “As parents, as family members, we do this work for the children. That’s why we as parents and guardians are so quick to speak about our children.”

Throughout the conference, Lettie enjoyed hearing about the inspiring work being done in other states. When she heard about the passing of Maryland’s Time to Care Act (which also includes time off for adopting parents to bond with their adopted children) she began envisioning how to create a similar program in Illinois.

In her words, “Raising Illinois needs to learn from other states working to ensure every child under 1 is thriving, so that Illinois can guarantee every child’s first years (the most critical years for development) are filled with support, love and a safe environment.”

Lettie enjoyed the way the conference enabled her to make new connections with people from all over the nation who had experiences that were new to her, but also shared the same struggles. This was an opportunity to share her wealth of personal experience and bond with people from different states, different backgrounds, different everything who were doing the same work with the same goal: creating a better tomorrow for the children of today.

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