Become a More Effective Advocate
Would you like to see better things happening for children, youth and families? Are you interested in being a part of the change?
Sometimes we want BIG changes. To make these changes, we need to change programs that impact our children and our community.
Sometimes programs that are supposed to help people just don’t. They don’t make sense because the people making the decisions aren’t the one’s using the programs.
Sometimes there just isn’t enough to go around and everyone who needs a service can’t access it.
The people making the decisions need to hear from people who know what you know and have experienced what you’ve experienced – yourself, with your children, with your family, with your neighborhood. You know what could be done differently to make things better.
We can be a part of the change. In fact, we already have most of the tools that we need to influence policy-making and policymakers. We all influence people every day – our children, parents, friends, neighbors, teachers, spouses, and many others. This is advocacy. We can use those same skills to influence the policymakers who can make the big changes that we want. That is policy advocacy.
Building a Voice for Advocacy
Using one’s voice to speak out for children, youth and families in the media has never been more important for raising public awareness and support for policy change. Media attention brings exposure to community issues and needed policy changes.
Read more about how one grandparent raising her grandchildren utilized the media to share her story and move her agenda.
Read Michigan’s Children’s follow up opinion piece urging policy change for relative caregivers in the Traverse City Record Eagle.
Here is what we need to know to help make the BIG changes that will benefit our children, families, and communities.
Because policymakers need us. They really need our help – they need our vote, and they need to know what we know about making things work better. Without our help, policies may not fix the problem.
Because it doesn’t take that many of us. State legislators suggest that it takes about a dozen phone calls, letters, emails or meetings with constituents to get them to take notice of an issue of concern.
Because that’s how things work. A democratic government comes with responsibilities. We make rules for ourselves and support public services by electing officials and then holding those officials accountable for the actions they take or don’t take.
We can make change happen. We can use local and state level policy advocacy to improve our communities. We are all very busy. We have families. We have school and jobs. We have a lot of responsibilities. We can impact changes in ways that fit with our lives. Keeping informed about advocacy opportunities in Michigan and keeping connected to other advocates helps to strengthen our voices for change.
We all are experts in our own life experience, and policymakers need to hear our stories. We already know the issues that matter to us, and we are already experts about our own work and life. Oftentimes, we already know the solutions that would help alleviate some of the issues affecting our children, youth, families, and communities. Sometimes when we learn more about our issue (like education reform, child care or neighborhood safety), it helps us link with other people who share the same concerns.
Learn more about the issues that Michigan’s Children is currently focused on by visiting our Policy Opportunities pages.
To influence public policy, we need to understand who has the power to change policies. We have to get to know the people who are making the decisions. They are representing YOU on your city council, your county commission, local school boards, in Lansing, and in Washington, DC. As a voter, you are the boss. Building a relationship with the individuals who represent us will help us become better “bosses” and more effective advocates. Here are a few ways you can build a relationship with your elected officials:
Sign-up for your elected officials’ electronic communications,
Visit their coffee hours in their district,
Set-up meetings with them in your community,
Invite them to visit your program,
Let them know that you are a resource, AND
That you are paying attention to the way that they are voting.