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Hana Rogers was born in Laramie and raised in Casper. She graduated from the University of Wyoming with a bachelor’s degree in speech, language and hearing sciences, and has spent most of her career working with children and individuals with special needs.

Last week, she and her son, Silas, 19 months, were Wyoming’s representatives at the Strolling Thunder event in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the group Zero to Three, which has turned the science of early development into helpful resources, practical tools and responsive policies for parents, professionals and policymakers, according to its website.

We talked with her about her experience.

How did you get this opportunity? I was asked to apply by Diana Webb, the Zero to Three representative from Wyoming. I filled out an application, and they asked me to come.

What was your overall impression of the event? It was really well done, really well put together. I think it’s a really good thing for people to participate in. There was a single Strolling Thunder rally on Tuesday, with a mom from every state and D.C. and their children between the ages of zero and 3, and we spent all of Monday and Tuesday together as well. And then there was time to meet individually with our congressional representatives.

How did those meetings go for you? I met with all three, with Rep. (Liz) Cheney first, and then Senators (Mike) Enzi and (John) Barrasso later on in the day. I just shared my personal experience of being a mom and trying to get childcare and the issues of taking time off work when you have a child. I asked them to cosponsor the Family Act and the Childcare for Working Families Act.

Liz Cheney had not seen the acts, but said she would read up on them. She said she was not sure government was the answer. She said she thought corporations were moving toward resolving the issues, but there aren’t a lot of big corporations in Wyoming.

Sen. Enzi knew about the acts and said he was not interested in cosigning either of them but thought there would be better bills coming from a Republican standpoint.

Sen. Barrasso actually really didn’t say much about either of the acts but said he would read up on the information that we gave him. But overall the meetings were positive? My meetings were positive. They were all really pleasant to talk to. They did a good job of listening and were very kind with Silas there, making sure he was comfortable. It really was a wonderful time, a very positive experience. It was valuable to be able to go and speak with them and take time out of their really busy days for us.

Can you share a bit about your personal family leave time and search for childcare? When we got pregnant, I was working at ACM Therapy Group as a speech language pathology assistant. I got to use my sick and vacation time for the year, which was two weeks. I took 15 weeks off without pay and my boss was very kind to let me do that. I’m working now part-time as a case manager for Wyoming Medicaid Waiver, which is a contract position. It’s extremely difficult to find childcare in Casper. We started looking in my first trimester. You have to put deposits down and it’s more expensive before your child is potty-trained because they need a higher ratio of staff to children. It’s very expensive. When he was an infant, we paid almost as much as our mortgage each month for his child care originally. Silas started out in a center and it was not a super great fit for him. There was a higher staff turnover rate than we liked. He’s now at a home daycare and he sees the same person every day, which is great. It’s not as expensive as the center was. I’m working part-time so we pay a daily rate, which is super generous of our provider to allow us to do.

Do you hope to continue your advocacy? Yes, they asked that we do news interviews if we were asked, and I would like to try to stay more involved at the local level. I would definitely be interested in continuing more advocacy for young children.

(Editor’s Note: Hana is the wife of Star-Tribune digital editor Alan Rogers, who did not edit this article or take the photograph of Hana and Silas.)

Follow community news editor Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @WYOSAS

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Community News Editor

Sally Ann Shurmur arrived at the Star-Tribune to cover sports two weeks after graduating from the University of Wyoming and now serves as community news editor. She was raised in Laramie and is a passionate fan of Cowboys football, food and family.

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