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Jennifer Marino Rojas, Exec. Dir., Child Care Council of Suffolk, Inc.

Jennifer Marino Rojas, Executive Director of Child Care Council of Suffolk, Inc. Child Care Council of Suffolk, Inc. is the not-for-profit planning and coordinating agency dedicated to making child care work for all of Suffolk County’s diverse communities. Through advocacy, education and resource and referral, the Council takes a leadership role in supporting children, families, providers, employers and the public to ensure that quality child care takes its place as an integral part of society.

What influenced you to do what you do?
When I was little, my mother was going to school and working so she could give us a good and secure life. She received a child care subsidy that allowed me to go to a wonderful family child care provider – Mrs. Butler – where I developed relationships and important social skills. As soon as my mother received a small raise of less than $500 for the year, she lost the subsidy and I had to leave Mrs. Butler. My mother’s options were to quit working and go on public assistance or figure out how to keep moving forward – which she did with the help of family and friends and a lot of stress and hard work. This experience is at the heart of my drive to protect children from the struggles of poverty and to help ensure that all children have every opportunity to succeed. Unfortunately, the child care system has not changed much in the past 40 years, so my passion about this work has only grown.

What inspires you?
My two boys inspire me to work toward a world that is more hopeful and kinder. All parents want what is best for their children, but as a society our attitude and policies toward families is extremely outdated. The lack of support for families – such as affordable child care and paid family leave -- results in grossly inequitable opportunities for children based on their zip code, family income, race/ethnicity, etc. My boys inspire me to change this, so they will inherit a country where there is opportunity for everyone to succeed. Most importantly, my boys motivate me to lead by example; to demonstrate that compassion and empathy are admirable traits and that it is always powerful to lift each other up.

Who’s your female role model and why?
My mom is and always will be my role model. She was a young single mother, dealing with health issues that would later be diagnosed as multiple sclerosis, and she never gave up. My mom graduated from college, received her master’s degree and was a Dean at Bank Street College of Education by her early 40’s – all while being an amazing (single) mom. She always encouraged me to do what I love, and she showed me that I can have a career and be a good mom myself. My mother’s compassion, empathy, values and drive helped to shape me and my chosen career.

What is your greatest achievement?
I should say graduating from law school or my two amazing boys and husband. But, the hardest thing I have ever done, and something that I’m pretty sure no one believed I could do, was run the NYC Half-Marathon. As someone who never exercised or ran until I turned 41 – finishing the NYC Half Marathon was an unbelievable achievement.

What would you like our donors to know about you and your mission?
The Child Care Council of Suffolk, Inc. is committed to making sure every child and family has access to quality, affordable early care and learning opportunities. We have been in existence for more than 30 years; and each year, we work with more than 2,200 families to help them find child care and other early childhood resources. We also provide high-quality professional development, technical assistance and support to more than 7,000 early childhood educators each year. We are the backbone of the child care industry, and we are fighting fiercely to protect and strengthen it on Long Island every day.

Check out their website at www.childcaresuffolk.org to learn more of the incredible work they do.

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