You Can Make a Difference!
What is advocacy?
Advocacy is the responsibility of individual citizens to take part in the legislative process by acting either on their own or within a larger group for a specific issue(s).
Why is advocacy important?
It makes an impact on the laws that are passed as well as the way money is spent and informs the elected officials and representatives of the impact of their decisions. People such as you can speak for those who are less articulate, including those who are uneducated and feel they have no voice. Your efforts will be on behalf of children and families who would otherwise would not have their voices heard.
- Know the issues
Start with one issue that is personally meaningful to you.
- Collaborate with other groups
Find out through your co-workers or professors what would be a good organization to follow (NYAEYC, NAEYC, Children’s Defense Fund, Winning Beginning).
- Join a professional organization
This will keep you in the information loop, add your voice to others to make more of an impact.
- Grow the coalition
Encourage others to join with you; get organizations or groups involved.
- Take action!
Taking action could take as little time as 5-30 minutes per week.
- Letter writing
On the web or by mail – many organizations have letters already made up for you. Even better is a letter that tells your story and why particular legislation is important to you.
- Petition signing
Just getting your friends and family to sign a petition could result in thirty or forty names or more.
Sometimes you may get an email that asks you to call or email your senator or the white house immediately. History has shown this DOES make a difference.
Make an appointment to go see your legislators; they all have office hours in their home districts. Call NAEYC to have someone go with you if you would feel more comfortable. YOUR story is important.
- Supporting the groups that represent you
Work within the organizations you belong to and that represent you by keeping in touch, telling your story and being active.
- Seek out a mentor in public policy
You would be shocked at how welcome you would be!
- Getting others involved
Talk up advocacy and what a difference it can make. Get others to sign petitions, write letters, write letters as a group, etc.
- Website advocacy
There are websites that do the work for you:
Many times they have letters already written that you can personalize and forward to your legislators. They even give you all the information you need to send it on your own or make a phone call as well.
- Keep informed
Read the paper, listen to the news, visit the websites, read your email. It is very effective to respond to what’s happening immediately.
- Act quickly
Timing can be critical – know the legislative calendar, keep informed and act quickly – if you put it off you won’t do it.
- Getting on information chain
Sign up for NAEYC’s email information chain. This will give you the national link you need.
- Volunteering for organizational efforts
Give your time to assist with organizational efforts. Statewide advocacy days are held twice a year. Every person who volunteers on the front end makes the day much more successful. Call NYAEYC for more information.
- Know the legislators
Keep abreast of how your legislators vote. Ask questions; ask them for support.
- Opinion/Editorial pieces in the newspaper
Write letters to the editor – prepare ahead of time – so you can act quickly.
- Join forces
Numbers are important – get others involved!