CWLA’s Advocacy Tips
The Child Welfare League of America’s public policy division works with its member agencies, state and Congressional leaders, and the Administration to monitor public and private sector policies and promote action that will benefit vulnerable children and youths, their families, and their communities.
Consumers, advocates, and legislators must all become informed and take action on pending national and state changes to virtually all public assistance programs for poor children and their families, including income assistance, Medicaid, and housing support.
The following are suggested strategies that you and your organization may want to use on a short- or long-term basis. Choose strategies that you can do and believe will send the most effective message. Most importantly, keep plugging away! Your voice can make a difference.
Mobilize State and Community Contacts
- Send (mail, fax, & e-mail) an alert to spread your message far and wide. Urge recipients of the alert to send it to their networks, boards, staff, coalitions, volunteers, and media contacts.
Briefly and clearly state what action you want.
- Set up and activate telephone trees to get the message out.
- Get on the agenda for community group meetings and statewide conferences (neighborhood associations; civic groups — Kiwanis, Junior Leagues, etc.; professional meetings of social workers, medical and legal professionals).
- Work with other interested individuals and organizations to raise the volume of concern.
Educate Members of Congress and the President
- Find out who your members of Congress are.Call your community’s voter registrar, or Democratic or Republican party headquarters.Call Capitol Hill Information and just provide your zip code.
- Senate operator, 202/224-3121
- House operator, 202/225-3121
- FYI–The White House switchboard is 202/456-1414; the comment line: 202/456-1111; the fax: 202/456-2461; e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Visit your Representative and Senators in their district offices.Call your Representative’s and Senators’ local offices in your area. Inform the receptionist that you are a constituent and would like to meet to discuss supporting families and protecting abused and neglected children.
- When your Members of Congress are in your community, at an event or just back home, introduce yourself and let them know that you are concerned about protecting children and supporting families.
- Write and ask your friends and colleagues to write too. (You can always write as an individual. If you communicate on behalf of your organization or want to use its stationery, be sure to check on and adhere to its policies.) In your letter, tell your Members of Congress about the needs of vulnerable children and families in your community.Address letters as follows: The Honorable (insert full name), United States Senate, Washington, DC 20510, or The Honorable (insert full name), U. S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515.
- Invite your members of Congress to visit your organization to speak at meetings about the issues of concern and their positions. Let them see the children and your programs firsthand.
- Meet with your state elected officials. Ask them how your state would fare under proposed changes. Urge them to speak out against harmful proposals.
Work with the Media
- Organize press conferences and briefings on protecting abused and neglected children.
- Highlight new studies or data documenting how your community would be affected by proposed changes.
- Showcase positive reforms in your state and community and what might happen to them if proposed policies are enacted.
- Alert the media to events that would provide good visuals, including meetings with your Representative or Senators. Invite media representatives to your programs.
- Write Op-eds and Letters to the Editor of your local newspaper. Time your op-eds and letters to correspond with a holiday, a high visibility issue, or an event that highlights child abuse and neglect.
- Meet with the Editorial Board of your local newspaper. Use this meeting to turn the editors’ attention to protecting children.
- Call in to radio talk shows that are discussing welfare, the Contract with America, block grants or problems facing children and make your case.