Policymakers are people just like you and me. The only difference is that they have the ultimate task of casting a vote on important decisions. But really, their job is to weigh in on important issues and represent the people in their communities when doing so. It is our job to tell them what we think, and what is important. Until two weeks ago, I had never met face to face with an elected official.
Children’s Advocacy Day at the capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky was the forum. Three staff from 4C planned to attend the day’s events. It would have been easy to attend the exciting rally, listen to Kentucky’s Governor Beshear’s inspiring words about progress on children’s issues, and then head home. This didn’t seem like enough when I envisioned the day. Why not try and set some meetings with the senators and representatives from our region? After a helpful briefing from a policy expert at the United Way, I picked up the phone and started calling legislative aides. They answered the phone. They scheduled appointments for us to meet with the officials. It was just that easy.
We prepared by putting together some quick facts about important issues related to child care and children in Kentucky. Did you know that there are 290,407 children under the age of five in Kentucky? Wow.
We met for 15 minutes each with Senator John Schnickel, Senator Katie Kratz Stein and Representative Sal Santoro. We gave information about the realities of child care as a critical support for working parents and told stories about the hard work that child care providers do to provide care and learning opportunities for children. They listened and asked questions. When we asked if they would like to tour some child care centers when they return to their districts, they said yes.
Phew, advocacy isn’t that hard after all.
But it’s not over. In fact, it’s just beginning. Our goal at 4C is to be advocate on important issues for children, families and child care. We plan to build on these meetings with legislators and form relationships so that our issues are heard. Would you like to be an advocate, too? It’s as simple as making contact and telling your story.