Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Tali Rausch joins other parents and citizens to advocate for kids in Olympia, Wash. Photo courtesy Children's Alliance

Becoming a Parent Advocate 

Mark your calendars for Have a Heart for Kids Day in February 2025

I looked forward to joining Have a Heart for Kids Day in Olympia last month because I knew I would be among like-minded people and parents with shared values for the well-being of children across Washington State. 

That morning in February was crisp with cold and Olympia was blanketed with snow, and the air was abuzz with excitement as we gathered for a brief but in-depth advocacy training which reviewed how to speak with legislators about the various bills that were being considered. 

Growing up undocumented and living with food and housing insecurity instilled in me a lifelong passion for working on urban economic development and alleviating poverty.  I’ve seen and experienced how critical education is to one’s ability to access economic opportunities. I have three children who attend Seattle Public Schools, and when the teachers went on strike in 2015, I became one of the many active parent advocates for fully funding education. 

Through learning about the education funding crisis, I discovered that our state struggles to generate enough revenue to cover schooling and many other vital public services. Due to Washington’s lack of an income tax, our state’s revenue streams are more reliant on taxes on sales and consumption. This results in an inequitable system in which the lowest-earning residents in Washington state pay almost 18% of their annual incomes in state and local taxes, while the wealthiest pay only 3%.

Tali Rausch speaks up at in Olympia on behalf of kids. Photo courtesy Children’s Alliance

This year the legislature considered a number of policies that could make our state’s tax more equitable, including:  

  • Establishing a fairer state tax system by charging a 1% tax on household wealth over $250 million resulting solely from ownership of financial property like stocks and bonds. 
  • Creating a statewide pilot program for guaranteed basic income to help those experiencing major life transitions or high economic instability and reduce economic inequality. 
  • Safeguarding progress made through the Working Families Tax Credit by ensuring that implementation allows for continued success of the program.

Although none of these policies passed this year, there is a good chance they will be re-introduced in the 2025 legislative session.

My biggest takeaway from being a parent advocate is that showing up in Olympia and stating your position on an issue makes a difference.  Legislators pay attention when their constituents, who can vote them in or out of office, speak up. Every call, email, and meeting is tracked by legislative office staff.  The collective and sustained pressure of the voting public often makes all the difference in passing a bill or the 2-year Washington state budget. 

When you voice your concerns to your two state representatives and one state senator, you are helping to educate and inform them about pressing community issues. When many voices unite to further positive change, the rallying call is more likely to be heard, understood, and acted upon.

So join us next year for Have a Heart for Kids Day and help move the needle in the direction of policies and programs that help kids across Washington thrive and fulfill their potential. To be notified about the date of next year’s event join the Children’s Alliance newsletter updates.

Tali Rausch is a co-founder of Washington’s Paramount Duty, a volunteer parent advocacy group that launched a grassroots, parent-led advocacy campaign for fully funding education during the 2017 legislative session. She serves on the board of Social Venture Partners Seattle, on staff at Refugee Artisan Initiative, and as mom to three teens who attend public high schools in Seattle. 

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About the Author

Tali Rausch