By Ileana Rodriguez
This Thanksgiving as we count our blessings, we are counting the local organizations in every county across North Carolina who advocate for children and families. Among those blessings we count Nikia Bye, founder and executive director of Trusted Parents.
Trusted Parents is a nonprofit agency in Charlotte that supports parents of children with special health care needs. “As the only one among family and friends to parent a child with special needs, I did not have the support needed to make my journey just a little more bearable,” says Nikia. She used her own experiences to create a network that could help other parents and caregivers like herself meet their own challenges.
Without really setting out to do so, Nikia has become an expert in NC’s Medicaid system – first through her own experience navigating Medicaid as she raised her son, and now working with so many other families of children with special healthcare needs. Nikia joined NC Child’s Parent Advisory Council in 2019. She is helping NC Child advise the NC Department of Health and Human Services on protecting and improving services for children as Medicaid undergoes a transformation to managed care.
At a recent meeting of the Parent Advisory Council, Nikia discussed what it means to her when we say that “we value every child”:
“We have to provide a nurturing environment. We have to show that as a country, we do care about our children, no matter the ethnicity, no matter their income level, no matter what their language or culture, they all deserve the same level of respect. Because the truth of the matter is, our children are tomorrow’s leaders.”
Nikia is one of so many child advocates across the state who work tirelessly to lift the voices of children in our communities. Your local child service agencies make each of our lives better every day by supporting kids and parents, and making their voices heard.
This Giving Tuesday, we urge you to donate to Trusted Parents or to your favorite local child advocacy agency. When you contribute to these local organizations you provide much-needed support for overworked parents, a weekend meal for a hungry kid, a space to do homework with a mentor after school, and spirited advocates who fight for the kids and communities they know and love.
On Giving Tuesday, we’re asking you to give generously to one of the agencies in your own community that advocates for children and their families. Thank you for all that you do for kids, on Giving Tuesday and all year long.
Ileana Rodriguez is NC Child’s Development Director