CHILDREN AND YOUTH ACTION NETWORK (CAN) provides grassroots advocacy on behalf of children with disabilities and CEC's policies.
Dr. Laura Clarke is the Children and Youth Action Network (CAN) Coordinator for DPHMD. She works with the Executive Board to help:
- advocate for students with physical, health, and multiple disabilities and their right to a free and appropriate education.
- contact Congress about certain bills and issues affecting students with disabilities.
- inform DPHMD members of ways to advocate for individuals with disabilities and public education.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED IN YOUR STATE:
Down Home Advocacy: Meeting Members of Congress at Home
Legislators have offices at home in addition to an office in Washington, D.C. Sometimes it can be just as affective to meet with members of Congress and their staff at home as it is to meet with them in Washington, D.C. And when you develop a relationship with your members of Congress at home, you have many more options for meetings and visits! In this newsletter, we’ll discuss down home advocacy!
Step 1: Finding Your Members of Congress in their Home Office
Depending on the size of your state and your district, your Representative and Senators might have more than one district office. CEC’s Legislative Action Center makes finding locations and contact information easy! Simply visit http://capwiz.com/cek/dbq/officials/ to enter your zip code to find access your Congressional delegation and their contact information.
Step 2: Scheduling and Attending a Meeting (No matter what kind of meeting it is)
A site visit to your school, classroom or program is a great way for your members of Congress to see the results of their legislation, to see the great work that you are doing and what is happening in their state and district. But it also gives them a chance to see the children and youth, the families and the professionals that could benefit from more funds, allocated by Congress. It is more emotionally resonant for your members of Congress to have faces and names, to put with the dollar amounts that come around during the appropriations process every year.
Scheduling a meeting with your members of Congress is a great way to build your relationship with them. It help them put a face to your name and your issues, and makes you a more memorable resource for them on issues related to children and youth with exceptionalities, their families, and the professionals who work with them.
Here are some tips and tricks to scheduling a meeting:
- Try to arrange a meeting with your member of Congress to invite them to an event or your school/program. Meeting you and having a name and a face to tie to the event can help. If you can’t, and you can only submit the invitation through email or postal service, be sure to follow up with a phone call.
- Tie your invitation to an event or something that has been in the news recently.
- Check the schedule to see whether your members of Congress are at home or in Washington, D.C.
- Be persistent!
- Prepare ahead of time – read over materials, current news, and the position of your member of Congress on your issues.
- Always be professional and courteous. This includes dressing professionally, maintaining a courteous demeanor, and being on time.
- No matter what, follow up! Thank your member of Congress for the meeting, and keep the line of communication open.
Step 3: Meeting with Your Members of Congress: What to Discuss??
CEC is working on may legislative initiatives, including federal budget cuts and investments in education; new assessment and accountability systems, new teacher evaluation systems; expansion of early learning initiatives; school safe and mental health in schools – to name a few. Check out the CEC Policy and Advocacy website: http://www.cec.sped.org/Policy‐and‐Advocacy