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This learning cohort teaches early childhood professionals how to advocate for the field when engaging and educating policymakers at all levels of government.

A Policy Learning Cohort

The Child Care Advocates Ready to Emerge (CARE) Fellowship brings together a diverse group of passionate and curious participants to improve their advocacy knowledge and skills.

With the support of the CARE collaborators and other fellows, participants will learn how to use their voice and share their story to impact change. The CARE Fellowship is currently approved for credit in Develop. At a minimum, participants can add four hours to their Learning Record for each in-person session.

This program is sponsored by the following partners:

A recording of the virtual information session held on July 20 is now available.


The CARE Fellowship is an opportunity for participants to:

  • Understand the early childhood and school-age care ecosystems
  • Connect with other advocates
  • Explore public policy topics
  • Develop confidence in leadership abilities
  • Build advocacy skills
  • Engage with policymakers and experts

Each session will be led by an early childhood and/or school-age care leader and will draw on Minnesota experts to share the latest news, research, and strategies to improve public policy.

Topics include:

  • Racial equity in early childhood
  • Minnesota legislative process
  • Historical context for today’s early care and education system
  • Early childhood as a social justice issue
  • Using personal stories for advocacy
  • Effective legislative meetings
  • Building power from the local to federal level
  • Advocating on social media
  • Emerging educational policy issues
  • Self-care and sustainable advocacy

Each participant commits to:

  1. Attend all monthly meetings
    • September 2021: six hours of self-paced pre-work
    • Friday, October 8, 2021: in-person (Twin Cities)
    • Friday, November 12, 2021: virtual
    • Friday, December 3, 2021: in-person (State Capitol)
    • Friday, January 14, 202: virtual
    • Friday, February 11, 2022: virtual
    • Wednesday, March 9, 2022: in-person (State Capitol)
    • Friday, April 8, 2022: virtual
    • Friday, May 13, 2022: in-person (Twin Cities)
    • Friday, June 10, 2022: in-person (Twin Cities)


  1. Complete the six hours of introductory material and an additional 1-2 hours of work each month


  1. Complete a policy project and present it in June
    • Each participant makes a contribution to the field by completing an individual policy project during the fellowship. The project is either part of the fellow’s present work or moves the fellow in a new direction. Fellows will have opportunities to identify and develop projects based on their interests.


  1. Become an active member of the CARE Fellows alumni community

To apply, follow the steps below:

  1. Read the Frequently Asked Questions tab and review the course schedule
  2. Complete the CARE Fellowship Application

Applications are due by midnight on Friday, August 6.


When is the application deadline?

Applications are due by midnight on Friday, August 6, 2021.


Who is eligible to participate?

The CARE Fellowship is designed specifically for those working in the early childhood and/or school-age care fields, including administrators and early educators working in family child care, school-age care, Head Start, Preschool and ECFE settings, as well as home visitors, trainers, professors of higher education, and others with a connection to the field.


Who should apply?

You should apply if:

  • You are looking for a leadership development and learning opportunity
  • You are interested in seeing how your work connects to the larger community conversations around early childhood
  • You want to better understand and become more involved in public policy
  • You would like to expand your personal and professional network

We encourage participants that identify as LBGTQ+, male, under 25, having a disability, and/or BIPOC to apply.


What is the time commitment?

The CARE Fellowship requires participants to make a significant time commitment. Fellows meet once a month as a group between October 2021 and June 2022. Participants should also expect an additional six hours of work prior to the first session and one to two hours of work each month, including completion of a policy project at the end of the fellowship.

You are expected to participate in all program activities if you are accepted as a fellow.

Please note: Session dates are subject to change, but every effort is made to minimize schedule changes.


How much does the Fellowship cost?

There is no charge to be a fellow and attend the sessions. When the sessions are held face-to-face, lunch will be provided.

As funds allow, we will offer a stipend of up to $200 for each in-person session for those who would otherwise find it challenging to attend. This stipend can be used toward mileage, a substitute at work, or other needs. Please indicate on the application if expenses would be a barrier to your participation.


How many applicants are accepted?

We will be accepting 20-25 fellows. Fellows will be announced by September 10, 2021.


Is the CARE Fellowship Approved in Develop?

Yes, fellows can get four hours of each in-person session approved in their Learning Record, and we are working to expand these hours for the online sessions as well. In order to award you these hours, we will need your Develop ID.



If you have further questions, please email.


In 2006, the Katie Williams Child Care Advocates Ready to Emerge (CARE) Fellowship was created by Child Care WORKS in honor of longtime children's advocate Katie L. Williams.

Beginning in 2013, a collaborative of child care and early learning organizations came together to continue the legacy of the CARE Fellows: Child Care Aware of Minnesota, Minnesota Association for the Education of Young Children–Minnesota School-Age Care Alliance (MnAEYC-MnSACA), Minnesota Child Care Association (MCCA), and Think Small.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2019-2020 cohort met virtually for the last half of the Fellowship, and there was no cohort for 2020-2021. In 2021, Child Care Aware of Minnesota received a multi-year grant from the Hopkins Early Learning Center to support the fellowship. Hopkins Early Learning Center (HELC) had to cease operation at the end of 2020. However, through the leadership of its Executive Director and former CARE fellow Jamie Bonczyk, a portion of its assets have been donated to sustain and expand the CARE Fellowship.

Nearly 300 individuals from throughout Minnesota have graduated from the CARE Fellowship since 2006.


"Talking to legislators, going to committee hearings, and testifying on a bill were all things I never saw myself doing, even though I had an interest in them. I'm proud of how far I've come because of pushing myself to sign up for this Fellowship and challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone."


"When I first heard about the CARE Fellowship, I didn’t know what to expect. I have never been overly interested in politics, and words like 'policy,' 'legislature' and 'session' used to fly right over my head. However, when the opportunity to apply for the program arose, I didn’t hear any of those words. I heard 'leadership,' 'community,' 'passion' and 'dedication to early childhood.' Now those are things I know! Being a part of the CARE Fellowship has broadened my perspective and helped me understand the different avenues of early childhood. Learning that there are so many people and organizations who are all gathered around a common goal has been enlightening in so many ways. Then to come together as a united front to make a real difference towards that goal has been one of the most empowering experiences of my career."


"I was not sure at the beginning if this would be something for me. I am SO glad that I stuck it out. The experience has inspired growth and the continuous building of a wonderful network of people."


"Thank you so much for this amazing experience! It has changed my life and provided great direction for me in my interest of policy and advocacy!"