From the blog: Speak up for children. Yes, you!
December 13, 2013
We recently hosted our 2nd Annual Advocacy Training through our partnership with Prevent Child Abuse Virginia. Speakers included local legislators as well as experts from Voices for Virginia’s Children, Zero to Three and The Commonwealth Institute. Dozens of attendees received a valuable day of strategy and updates on policy, legislation and advocacy tips. But the information is relevant for all of us committed to speaking up for children in our communities. Whether you’re an experienced advocate or just trying to learn more about our policies and how to impact them, check out these tips:
- Advocate all year long. Virginia’s legislative session is a short, fast-paced time, but advocacy happens ALL YEAR. Leaders are often more available when they are home from Richmond. Make connections and establish your value and voice then.
- Work with others. Collaborating with other organizations – both locally and across the state – can be very effective in making your position heard. Individual legislators tend to listen most for their own constituents but leaders such as committee chairs expect to hear from people across the state.
- Be a resource for your legislator. They need us as a source of information and inspiration. Speak your mind but also share helpful information as well as a personal story, if relevant. And remember that email is a fantastic tool to communicate with leaders. Be certain to include the bill number in the subject line (you can track up to five bills for free here), address only one issue per email, identify your home address if a constituent, and state your position clearly at the top of the email, followed by your personal message/reasoning/evidence for that position.
Some of the most important child welfare issues coming up in 2014 include:
- Medicaid expansion: Learn more from our friends at The Commonwealth Institute here.
- Early childhood issues: Restoring funding to programs like CASA, home visiting and Early Intervention/Part C will be critical. You can learn more about the Early Childhood Education Unified Agenda from our friends at Voices for Virginia’s Children here.
- Federal legislative efforts: Zero to 3’s legislative agenda gives a good perspective on national efforts here.
What to do with all of this info? We have TWO ideas:
1. Attend a Budget Hearing on January 3rd. Every two years the Governor submits a biennial budget. This budget will outline state spending and revenue between 2014 and 2016. Five public hearings will be held around the state by the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committee. Our local opportunity to attend a hearing — and comment on the budget — will happen at 10:00 AM on January 3rd at the Fairfax County Government Center.
2. Join us in Richmond for Advocacy Day on January 22nd. Every year child welfare advocates from around the state – including SCAN staff and volunteers – go to Richmond to meet with legislators and speak up for the children and families in our programs. Join us! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with details about your interest and availability.
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