New Parent Advisory Board Engages Parents as Experts in Policy Advocacy

Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio (CDF-Ohio) and Central Ohio Parent Leadership Training Institute (COPLTI) partner to elevate and empower parent voice on issues affecting child and family well-being in Ohio

COLUMBUS, OH — A new Parent Advisory Board created in partnership by two Ohio nonprofits aims to meaningfully engage parents as experts in policy advocacy to drive positive change in a wide-range of issues facing children and families across the state.

This month, the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio (CDF-Ohio) and the Central Ohio Parent Leadership Training Institute (COPLTI) formed a new Parent Advisory Board that connects parents driven to build out their advocacy skills and civic engagement with state policy advocates to build capacity for parent leadership in Ohio and strategically collaborate on policy priorities informed by the perspective and expertise of caregivers directly impacted by widespread social issues.

“Parent voices are vital to ensuring policies are effective and work better for the very families they are designed to support,” says Kelly Vyzral, Senior Health Policy Associate with the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio. “As a child advocacy organization, we understand that centering the foremost experts in child well-being – the caregivers who navigate the services, programs, and policies their children rely on every day – is absolutely essential to improving the lives of Ohio’s children. We’re grateful for how this partnership will improve our advocacy on their behalf.”

The new Parent Advisory Board is a continued learning opportunity for parents who have successfully graduated from COPLTI’s 20-week Parent Leadership Training program that centers on child development leadership and democracy building. Using a two-generation approach to bolster parental involvement and promote the lifelong health, safety, and learning of children, the program’s participants span age, race, culture, and education level, creating a diverse community of families working together for children and youth. Although the application process is competitive, COPLTI offers this parent leadership course free of cost and supports parent involvement by providing child care, meals, transportation, and a stipend for their time.

“We are committed to helping parents who care become parents who lead,” says Karla Poole, Executive Director of the Central Ohio Parent Leadership Training Institute (COPLTI). “I am excited to see how this Parent Advisory Board will provide even more opportunities for Ohio parents to be change agents for children, whether that’s by meeting with lawmakers or providing testimony, or perhaps by hosting events to boost awareness of issues impacting their communities. We hope this efforts will lead more organizations and decision-makers to engage parents as experts in policy advocacy.”

Six parents from Central Ohio will serve on the Parent Advisory Board through the end of this year, with plans to expand participation by number and geographic representation in the future.


About Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio

Celebrating 50 years in 2023, Children’s Defense Fund envisions a nation where marginalized children flourish, leaders prioritize their well-being, and communities wield the power to ensure they thrive. The only national, multi-issue advocacy organization working at the intersection of child well-being and racial justice, CDF advances the well-being of America’s most diverse generation, the 74 million children and youth under the age of 18 and 30 million young adults under the age of 25. CDF’s grassroots movements in marginalized communities build power for child-centered public policy, informed by racial equity and the lived experience of children and youth. Its renowned CDF Freedom Schools® program is conducted in nearly 100 cities across 30 states and territories. Learn more at