A special power
Petitions, letter writing, demonstrations, and other kinds of advocacy are all important. The special power of the telephone and the Internet is in responding quickly to national initiatives before votes are taken.
Advocacy over the phone
The information on Advocacy over the phone was developed by Helen Blank of the Children's Defense Fund. While it specifically references contacts to federal officials, the same information is useful when communicating with your state or local officials.
Having an administration that supports children's issues means positive change is sure to come, right? Only if it hears from you!
A Possible Scenario - The President of the United States has just announced a bold initiative for children: access to high-quality care for every child, and additional resources to bolster elementary schools. The next morning the White House phones begin to ring. Is it the ground swell of support the President expected? On the contrary, most callers argue that money for childcare and early education is not a top priority. The President is surprised. Weren't these important issues to families? When the final tally is taken, calls against the proposals far outnumber those that support it. He begins to reconsider whether America really wants increased investment in children.
Could this happen? Indeed it could. Many people who care about children assume that policy-makers support investing in children, or that if they don't, their minds cannot be changed. Either way, child-care providers, teachers, and parents do not usually call the White House to express their opinions about proposed initiatives, or to ask their Congressional representatives to support a particular bill. Yet a simple phone call can make a big difference.
A success story - In 1990, Congress enacted comprehensive childcare legislation. This victory for children did not come easily. For three years, child-care providers and other concerned citizens kept pressure on legislators in many ways: by writing letters to the editors of newspapers, by raising the issue at town meetings, and by distributing postcards to senators and representatives. At several critical points, they tied up the telephone lines of the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader. Through their actions, citizens made it clear to Congress and the White House that it would not be acceptable to adjourn in 1990 without first enacting this child care legislation into law. The Child Care and Development Block Grant is the result. Important as it is,it is only a beginning.
Success may be a phone call away. If our nation is to ensure strong policies for all children, we must make sure our elected officials know that this is important to us. The telephone is a fast, easy, and efficient way to help shape national policy for children. Here are some points to remember:
When calling the White House
When calling Congress
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