Advocacy, according to Webster’s dictionary is public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy. Essentially, it is standing up for what you believe in. It can be a way for you to share your passion around a particular topic. It is also a way for you to share what you see happening around you.
Some people get lobbying and advocacy mixed up. Although there are some similarities they are not the same. There are two main types of lobbying- direct and grassroots. In direct lobbying, you communicate directly with a legislator or their staff. You ask them to support specific legislation. Mostly, you want them to take a particular position on policy. On the other hand, in grassroots lobbying, you communicate with the public about specific legislation. It typically reflects your view of the legislation and has a specific call to action. The call to action is typically asking people to contact their representatives. Many grassroots lobbyists support the call to action by helping people figure out who their representatives are and what to say to them.
As an advocate, one of the first things you should ask people is “Are you registered to vote at your current address?” Many people don’t realize they have to register to vote each time they move to a new home. In Minnesota, you can contact the Secretary of State at www.mnvotes.org to get information on how to register and where to go vote. Also, you can find out about absentee voting too.
Advocating for Children and Families
I am an advocate for children and families. My passion is making sure that our youngest citizens have the care and education they need to be able to succeed in school and life. There are many local and national organizations that share resources. One of my go to’s is Child Care Works . Therefore, I can stay current on the issues that are important to me and I don’t have to pull all the data and do the research myself.
During campaign season it is important to engage with candidates. One of the best ways to be an advocate is to make informed voting choices. Here are some of the questions I have been asking the candidates:
If elected what will you do to:
- Support parents to be their child’s first and best teacher?
- Increase the number of infants and toddlers receiving the resources needed for a secure and healthy start?
- Increase the number of children receiving high quality early learning experiences that meet their families needs?
- Support increased professional development and wages for early childhood professionals?
Educating the Candidates and the Public
Often it is necessary to educate the people running for office on the issues that are important to you. Many people simply do not know about all the issues and have their own passions and topics they support. I believe that all people want what is best for child
ren. However, they have different ideas of what that looks like. As a result, there ends up being a mish mash of things with no cohesive plan to accomplish the goals set out.
Use facts that can be backed up with research as talking points. Child Care Works has three great ones that are difficult to dispute.
- Up to 90% of brain development happens before age 5, making the early years the most important time to invest in quality education.
- Investments in high quality education, especially for high need children, bring a high rate of return for the public. Saving up to $12 for every $1 spent. This results in children ready to learn, a stronger economy, and more responsible engaged citizens.
- Minnesota has one of the worst opportunity gaps in the nation. When children enter school not prepared to learn it impacts not only their personal achievement, but the learning experience of all the children in their classroom.
*Information for this blog post was taken from Child Care Works.
To learn more about child development check out these posts.