Madeleine Thakur: Leads Children’s Movement to get family-friendly policies
Miami native Madeleine Thakur focused for years on economic and social development in Latin America, but her heart led her home and to the Children’s Movement of Florida, where she is the first woman and mother to serve as president.
“I built my career around international affairs,” she said, “but I was much more tied to my hometown.” After nearly a decade of working with major multinational firms, Ms. Thakur joined the Children’s Movement in 2017.
As president, her goals include advocating for family-friendly policies, funding for early education and better healthcare coverage for children and families. She is also hoping to grow initiatives like Bosses for Babies, which encourages businesses to invest in their communities and workers by creating parent-friendly workplaces and taking an interest in local childcare issues.
Investing in thriving children and families, she said, helps us all. Today’s pre-kindergarten students are the community’s future earners and employers, and getting workforce matters right is essential. For today’s workforce, she said, this could mean creating strong parental leave policies that reduce employee turnover and increase productivity. For tomorrow’s, it’s investing in early childhood education, because by the time many Miami children reach kindergarten they are already behind.
In a Covid environment, Ms. Thakur said, the issue of childcare has come into the spotlight – and many parents can’t access it. According to one Children’s Movement study, 60% of Florida parents and 73% of mothers have had some sort of childcare issue. With Florida being one of the states spending the least on early childhood education, she said, parents may face even greater costs.
As a mother herself, Ms. Thakur is well-versed in the balancing act working parents must perform.
Before Covid, she said, she traveled Florida with her oldest baby as she advocated for the movement, even bringing him to the Legislature. This insight, she said, encouraged her to elevate the voices of families and childcare workers as leaders in her organization.
Ms. Thakur encourages working parents to unapologetically make time for their children, and sets an example for her own employees by openly discussing matters like taking a break to pick up her kids from school or take them to the doctor.
Outside of her work with the movement, Ms. Thakur continues the mission of bettering children’s outcomes in Florida by working with a number of community groups across the state.
In Orlando, she sits on the leadership table of Becoming a K-ready Community, an organization that aims to prepare all Orange County children for kindergarten. She also chairs the Florida Early Learning Consortium and serves on the steering committee for the Florida Chamber’s Business Alliance for Early Learning, the state advisory board for the Florida Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) impact project.
Ms. Thakur was interviewed by Miami Today reporter Kylea Henseler.
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