Success basics:
Be prepared.
Get organized.
Get into action.
Monitor your progress.
What can you do?
   Everyone can work to promote child welfare and each part of the community, whether medical, civic, educational, legal, religious or social service, has an important role to play. Here are some ways you can be an advocate in your community.

  • Register to vote and VOTE. This is your most basic right as a citizen and an advocate! Hold a voter registration drive at your organization or work site.
  • Get to know your elected officials. These are the people elected to serve you and they depend on you (the constituent)to identify concerns in the community. Develop a relationship with key policymakers BEFORE you need something from them.
  • Create or join a children's coalition. Network! Network! Network! The more people know you and your group, the more effective you will be. Work to continuously expand your network. The goal is to be "spider-webbed" throughout the community, so you are not simply "preaching to the choir."
  • Hold an event. Town meetings, rallies or marches are effective ways to bring people together and get the word out about an issue. Invite elected officials and the press. Coordinate with other groups (remember your network!) and share the work.
  • Host a "reality tour". Invite public officials and the press on a "reality tour." Ask them to visit your program and see "how it really is" or "shadow" a child care worker. Let them interact with staff, children and parents wherever possible. Host an open house and invite the public, the press and community leaders.
  • Attend Candidate Forums and Legislative Workshops in your community. Ask candidates how they stand on your issue and state your position. Always be clear about whether you are speaking individually or on behalf of a larger group.
  • Create a newsletter or web site. Spread the word about your issue or provide articles to existing newsletters in your area.
  • Create a letter writing, phone or email campaign. Develop a phone tree to activate when needed. Make sure your callers know who to call and what to say. Be creative. Sending an E-mail or writing a letter is something that many people who do not have a lot of time can do to help. Consider stopping meetings five minutes early so everyone can write a letter.
  • Write a letter to the editor or an opinion-editorial piece for the local newspaper about your program. This is a great way to increase awareness of your issue and get others involved.
  • Establish volunteer networks in your community to assist advocacy efforts. Don't overlook faith-based and business organizations.
  • Say Thanks! Remember it is just as important (if not more so) to thank elected officials and community leaders when they support your efforts as it is to request something or complain.

Plan ahead Planning is key to any successful advocacy effort. Here are some tips for developing your own action plan:

Red Bullet Be prepared. Research your issue thoroughly and frame the issue carefully. Keep in mind that not everyone has the same background or understanding. Keep the message simple, direct and positive. Know who your target audience is and how they operate, whether it is a state legislature or city council.
Red Bullet Get organized. Develop a strategy using an array of advocacy tools. Understand both your supporters and opponents. Sometimes, the best advocate is a convert. Know your target audience and focus your efforts there.
Red Bullet Get into action. Monitor your progress. Keep track of how you are doing in terms of communicating effectively and making a difference. Adjust the strategy as necessary.
Red Bullet Follow-up. Evaluate how effective you were. Identify weaknesses and work to improve. Thank everyone who got involved and helped in your efforts.

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