photo of Bonita Lacey

Bonita brings a great deal of personal experience, over thirty years of professional work in early childhood development and a great amount of passion to her work both advocating for and educating families on early childhood development. She works with children and families from birth to 5 years old. She stresses how important this developmental period is and that we as adults need to service children in the best way possible and watch what we do to foster healthy development. Children are both “impressionable” and “a product of their environment.”

Her career path emerged from a desire to teach her own children as a single mother of four. Early on, she noticed her children all developed differently and had different learning styles. She had a reader, an auditory learner, a visual learner and one requiring detail oriented instruction. She knew she needed to learn more about the education of her children and heard about an early childhood education program. She attended a class to learn more and was later asked if she would be interested in subbing as a childcare worker. Since then, Bonita has worked in a variety of different capacities and settings as an ECFE/ECSE Teacher Assistant, in Early Interventions Systems -348- TOTS program and is currently at Parents In Community Action Head Start as an Intervention Services Coordinator.

She’s had her own share of experiences, advocating for both of her sons at different points in the school system while working with her children to help them in areas that were challenging. She draws on her own experiences in navigating the system and advocating for supports as a mother alongside her desire to learn and help empower families and children. Today her children are grown up and she has kept a promise she made to her son to complete her education and work in this arena. “To this day, my passion is providing families with intervention services and information that inspires families to be advocates for their children. I strive to let them know how important it is to talk to others about their family needs.”

Bonita works hard and long and carries out multiple responsibilities. She works within Minneapolis school districts and surrounding suburbs while managing services with other agencies in developmental areas such as speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy and social and emotional behavior services. Additionally, she provides training to teachers about supporting children with special needs and developmental screening. She is a part of numerous collaboration teams such as one that ensures PICA is providing positive inclusive services, in the least restrictive and most natural environments for all children.

Bonita knows a great deal about early childhood development and the importance of childhood screening. She says “it’s important to explain developmental stages to parents in easy terms that help them to understand the concept, such as; the way a child grasps cheerios, when a child repeats what you do or say, pretending to talk on the phone. These are necessary milestones in a child’s development. I enjoy explaining to parents the screening process and the what’s, and why’s, and how’s of the process, as well as the results of screening.”

Some of The Learn the Signs Act Early materials, both her and PICA Head Start have used include the growth chart with developmental stages, the milestone brochure and the Amazing Me book for 3-year-olds. They’ve shared this information and materials with families and parents to be. “I believe MN LTSAE provides easy to read resources for families that are engaging for them and that help them to understand early childhood development, stages of development and milestones.”

Parents may face different types of barriers when accessing services of learning about childhood development. One may be the fear that something could be wrong with their child. However, she states that parents have abilities to make changes in their lives, work hard and they have strength in advocating knowing that PICA will help them meet their goals.

We’re very appreciative to have Bonita promoting childhood and family wellness through all the work that she has done and continues to do as a strong advocate for families and children. She is a Minnesota Act Early Champion!

“Overall, the message is how the child is developing, listening, talking, using their hands, movement, and understanding simple concepts. I find the message important to families to understand that these simple stages of child development provide them with the necessary skills to be a part of the world.”