When children can’t advocate for themselves, they need people like you to speak up. That’s what it means to be an advocate—you help ensure that the children in Indiana have a voice, and that their needs are being met. Whether you’re speaking to your local community, state-level elected officials, or federal policy makers, your voice makes a difference.
Why should you be an advocate?
The most obvious reason to be a child and family advocate is that you care. You care about Hoosier children and want them to be safe, healthy and happy. It follows that you want to help ensure that local, state and federal policy-makers adopt, implement and maintain important policies and programs that support children and families. In order to ensure that these policies and programs are maintained, it is critical to have a sustained, vocal and noticeable presence at all levels of policy-making. You can be part of that presence; and therefore, you can be part of the effort to protect our nation’s children and families.
What can you do as an advocate?
Register to vote: This allows you to identify yourself as a constituent when you talk with your legislator. This means that you are a registered voter in that legislator’s district.
- Become involved in the issues: Attend public forums and debates to learn about issues and where candidates stand on those issues.
- Get to know your elected officials: Educate yourself about your elected officials; their committee involvement, voting records, priorities and interests. Read local publications, watch news programs and stay informed.
- Contact your legislators: Write, call or schedule meetings with legislators to express your views on legislation. Sum up your points clearly and concisely. Bring written materials to leave with your legislator with more detailed information about the issue. If you don’t know the answer to a question that you are asked, offer to follow up and provide the requested information—and always keep your word.
- Remember to say “thank you”: Follow up with your legislators to express thanks when they have supported legislation that impacts prevention of child maltreatment, even if the bill did not pass. Let them know that you appreciate their efforts. Also, remember to express appreciation to a legislator who is open to meeting with you so you can offer any support or concerns you may have about a proposed bill. Even if the legislator doesn’t support your viewpoint, always follow up with a formal thank you. This gesture also provides an opportunity to mention points that you may have forgotten or to include follow-up material.
- Identify fellow advocates and partners: Form a coalition along with other organizations that share common goals which can increase your overall power and influence.
- Keep PCAI involved: Send copies of correspondence to PCAI and let us work with you to address issues that you believe are important to prevention of abuse and neglect.
Find Your Elected Officials
One of the best ways to advocate on behalf of our children is to reach out directly to your elected officials. First, find their contact information:
If you’re able to reach your official, identify yourself. Ask if this time is convenient to discuss legislative issues. State your reason for calling. If you are calling about a particular bill, refer to it by number. Briefly explain the intent of the bill. State your position. Support your position with factual information. If possible, tell your legislator how the bill or issue will affect you and others in your district. Keep your call as brief as possible while allowing enough time to present and support your position in a coherent, logical manner. Thank your elected official for his/her time.
If you can’t reach your official, be sure to leave a message. It should be brief and include the number of the bill, your name, address, and telephone number.