The following blog was originally posted by the Michigan After School Partnership.
Do you want to see better things happening for more children and families in your community? Do you know what could be done differently to make things better?
As we speak, the Michigan Legislature is determining how we will distribute tax dollars – what will we invest in, and what we leave out of those investments. Term limits have dictated that this legislature is still inexperienced. Despite this, they are faced with difficult decisions about investment in the face of Michigan’s economic crisis. We are the ones who can help them. Policymakers need our expertise and guidance to make sure that they have all of the information they need to make good policy choices.
The good news is that we already have most of the tools that we need to influence policymakers. We all influence people every day – our children, parents, neighbors, teachers, spouses, and many others. This is advocacy. We just need to use those same skills to influence policymakers.
You are THE expert in what is going on in your community – the needs of the young people and their families who you serve, how your program addresses some of those needs, and how other needs aren’t adequately addressed. When you use what you know and tell it to the people who are in the position to change things, great things can happen! We have a lot of power to make changes happen, especially when we talk clearly, give solutions and understand what influences the people who can make change. Knowing what would really fix the problems you are facing in your communities helps us get our message across. Getting to know your elected officials better helps us put together the best argument.
Information about your community from the Kids Count 2011 Data Book and other sources is also a useful conversation starter. Where there have been improvements, have there been community efforts that have helped? How have the efforts of your programs contributed? How could programs like yours contribute even more if adequate investments were made?
You Are Not Alone. Many different people want the same changes you do. Lots of them are working hard to make changes every day. Utilize the Michigan After-School Partnership to help you tell your story, find the facts to support your argument, know the best time to impact your issue, and the best people for you to target.