Incorporating the voices of families with lived experiences into health care policy and program decisions is critical to improve child and family well-being and advance health equity. Engaging with parents and families supports the development of systems that are responsive to the needs and priorities of families and communities. Community members, however, often do not have a meaningful seat at the decision-making table. In response, Groundwork Ohio, an advocacy organization championing early learning and healthy development from the prenatal period to age five, launched the Center for Family Voice. This innovative “center for excellence” aims to build Ohio families’ capacity to engage in the development and implementation of programs and policies that directly impact the health, education, healthy development, and well-being of their children.

This webinar, made by possible by the MolinaCares Accord, delved into the impetus for and goals of the Center for Family Voice. Drawing on speakers’ direct experience working with parents and families, it explored key findings from an extensive environmental scan throughout Ohio and nationally on best practices for authentically engaging with families in public services delivery to inform state and local programs, practices, and policy development. Speakers from Family Voices and Queens Village, who participated in the environmental scan, shared insights from their work to elevate community voices, especially parents with young children and/or special health care needs. Although Groundwork’s approach is tailored to Ohio, lessons from their work can inform national efforts in this developing area.

Health care, early childhood care, and education advocates, policymakers, state officials, family representatives, and other interested stakeholders are invited to join this 90-minute event.

YouTube video


I. Welcome and Introduction

Speaker: Anna Spencer, Senior Program Officer, Center for Health Care Strategies and Carolyn Ingram, Executive Vice President, MolinaCares Accord

A. Spencer welcomed participants and provided an overview of the planning process behind the creation of Groundwork Ohio’s Center for Family Voice. C. Ingram provided opening remarks on MolinaCares Accord’s support for the creation of the Center for Family Voice. 

II. Authentically Engaging Parents and Families: Center for Family Voice

Speaker: Shannon Jones, Executive Director, Groundwork Ohio

S. Jones provided an overview on the impetus for Groundwork Ohio in creating the Center for Family Voice and share what is on the horizon for working with Ohio’s parents and families through the new Center.

III. Engaging Mothers in Maternal/Child Health Programs to Address Racial Disparities

Speaker: Josselyn Okorodudu, Community Engagement Strategist, Queens Village

J. Okorodudu discussed Queens Village’s approach to addressing Black infant mortality in Cincinnati, Ohio, and their approach to elevating Black women’s voices to address racial disparities in birth outcomes and health inequity.

IV. Preparing Parents to Participate in Policy Discussions

Speaker: Cara Coleman, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Family Voices

C. Coleman shared examples of training programs and best practices to inform, train, and connect parents interested in advocacy and becoming agents of change for children and youth with special health care needs.

V. Moderated Q&A

Moderator: Anna Spencer, CHCS