Advocacy for Everyone
Legislators make their voting decisions on the perception of what is important to their constituents. This perception often depends on what they hear from, how often they are contacted, and how effective these contacts are. In order for programs and services for young children and their families to receive more funding it essential that parents, community leaders, and early childhood professionals contact their legislators regularly to communicate their thoughts, concerns, and needs. Legislators are generally very accessible - it is their job to listen to and represent their votes. (courtesy Pennsylvania AEYC).
Follow these six easy steps to be an effective early childhood advocate.
- Keep informed about the issues- join NAEYC's children's champions and Illinois Children's Champions list serves to receive regular updates and alerts.
- Be prepared to be able to discuss what the issues are, how they affect your program, your community or your family.
- Know who you are legislators are, have their contact information available so you are ready when you need it. Ask the legislator or his/her staff the best way to contact them.
- Take time to develop a relationship with your elected official(s). When he/she is not in session, schedule a visit to introduce yourself and talk about your programs, your interests and concerns.
- Follow up on requests with acknowledgements, thank you notes (if appropriate) and information about the results of their action(s). Be respectful of their time and the fact they have many constituents to answer to.
- VOTE..... VOTE... VOTE!!!! The best way to move a children's agenda forward is to elect officials who view children and families as a priority and, if running for re-election, have a voting record that demonstrates this.
Simply put, advocacy is taking action. It can be a phone call, a note, or a visit to your program.
Advocacy is just one way, that you can make a difference in the lives of young children in your community!