NC Parents and What They Work For: Elaine Zukerman

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A couple times a month throughout 2022, our Marketing Communications Leader is connecting with parents of young children at our partner organizations to lift up the insights of these hard-working parents and the work of our amazing partners. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest story delivered right to your inbox and share the inspiring nuggets from these dedicated parents on social media when they resonate with you.


Elaine and Elliott
Elaine and Elliott

6 Questions with Elaine, the Advocate

Lindsay Q1: What sparked your interest in a broad range of issues and policies that parents and young children need to thrive? 

Elaine A1: I worked in early childhood for many years before having my son, and during that time, I developed an understanding of the profound importance of those first few years of life. After becoming a parent, that interest has become personal now, and I am even more passionate about making sure families and young children are supported in all the many ways they need to reach their full potential.


Lindsay Q2: What gives you hope as a parent?

Elaine A2: On a tangible level, I have hope that COVID has made people understand that parents don’t ever stop being parents. There’s no off switch and no real way to separate family life from work life – there is no separation at all for most people during this pandemic!

I truly believe that we are going to make progress in the next several years towards policies that support families. 

I also have hope that our generation will raise children who are empathetic, community-minded, and kind, and that because of our own work to instill those values in them, they will tackle the very deep societal issues that we continue to work on every day. Broader than that, just watching the joy that my son feels as he experiences the world gives me a lot of hope. He is too young to remember anything other than life during COVID, so as we begin to feel safer and do more things, his excitement over small, every-day things is contagious. 


Lindsay Q3: What solutions do you think could uplift families? 

Elaine A3: COVID showed everyone that the “safety net” for families is full of holes. We are so far behind most other developed countries when it comes to how we support families with young children. This impacts everyone, but it has particularly impacted families of color and continues to widen the opportunity gap for children. Families need a broad range of effective and equitable policies, programs and funding to support themselves and their babies – that means everything from paid leave, access to affordable high-quality child care, access to health care, home visiting, pregnancy accommodations, the Child Tax Credit, and so much more.

The issues impacting families are interconnected, and it’s time for policymakers to support families with real funding for these policies, not just words.

The issues impacting families are interconnected, and it’s time for policymakers to support families with real funding for these policies, not just words. -- Elaine Zukerman

Lindsay Q4: What are you reading, listening to, or watching that helps you feel empowered while navigating early childhood? 

Elaine A4: Blippi… just kidding! We read and listen to a number of “parenting experts” to help us navigate the many challenges of toddlerhood, but it’s important to me that everything we follow has an emphasis on flexibility and adaptability. There is no one size fits all for parenting – every child and every family is different and has different needs. I also think COVID has helped us learn how to be a little more forgiving and understanding of our own needs and not worry so much about doing everything “perfectly” – sometimes you just have to do what you need to do to get through the day!


Lindsay Q5: What shifted in your perspective since becoming a parent? 

Elaine A5: My understanding of just how HARD it is to be a parent. Having worked in this field, I had written a lot of talking points and given a lot of presentations on this before I had my son. But living it makes it real in a way that nothing else could. Having a baby is amazing and difficult and beautiful and stressful all at the same time. But what also became extremely clear is just how much support all families need and deserve. 

If becoming a parent was a challenge for my family, with all of our privileges, then it’s on us to do everything we can to make sure that other families, who don’t have the same privileges or advantages, have access to the resources, programs and policies that they need to not just survive, but thrive.


Lindsay Q6: One more, just for fun… What is something unique about your family? 

Elaine A6: We are die hard UNC fans (definitely not that unique here… haha) and one of the first things we taught our son to say is “Go Tar Heels!”


Elaine and Baby Elliott at a UNC game.
Elaine and Baby Elliott at a UNC game.


The North Carolina Early Education Coalition is the only statewide advocacy organization working to ensure that all children – regardless of race, family income, or zip code – have access to high-quality, accessible, and affordable early care and learning experiences. The Coalition also serves as the backbone organization for the Think Babies™ NC Alliance, which seeks to ensure that NC’s youngest children, prenatal to age 3, have what they need to thrive: healthy beginnings, supported families, and quality early care and learning experiences. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter. The NC Early Education Coalition is a Partner of the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation on the Think Babies NC Initiative.