Since she was 13 years old, Yvonne Franklin has taken care of and been around children. Now 45 years later, that hasn’t changed. The Denver mother of two and grandmother of 10 (ages 10 months to 16 years) often helps one daughter with school transportation and childcare. Even with family that lives down in Castle Rock, she speaks with them consistently.
“Me and my children did not have that kind of grandparent,” Franklin says. “I wanted to make sure that they know I love them and am supporting them.”
The way Franklin sees it, her grandchildren have it tougher growing up these days. The kids now have to deal with peer pressure through social media, sometimes lacking support in school systems, and a great awareness of what’s going on in the world around them (so much that it can get in the way of studies or regular childhood fun).
“I have a great open relationship with my grandkids. I let them speak freely … they’re willing to open up and talk to me,” Franklin, whom the kids call “G-Ma,” says.
For the past seven years, Franklin has been dropping off and picking up grandkids at Clayton Early Learning (CEL). A staff member convinced her to join the parent ambassadors, which got her working on bills, lobbying, and sending letters to officials regarding children, family, and voting rights.
“It’s pushing me into a more political field,” Franklin says. “I want to make sure that my grandchildren, because they see me, know they have a right to speak up if they see something wrong or something that needs to be changed.”
Clayton parents pushed for the passage of several recently signed laws, which will create a department of early childhood, work to improve maternal health equity, and increase access to diapers, among other things.
Frankin’s counsel to other grandparents who take a hands-off approach, or feel they can’t make an impact: “We all make a difference. Yes, children are our future and all of that. But I think that we, as grandparents or parents or educators, need to stand up for our children.”