Familiarizing yourself with available resources will help you become a successful advocate for child issues. In the following sections, you can find contact information for local and national legislative representatives and local media, as well as “how-to” sections on writing effective op-ed pieces and letters, giving public testimony, and interacting with the media.
|Find Your Representatives||Contacting your representatives allows you to take an active part in the production of child policy. Click the links below to find your federal and state representatives and their contact information. You can also search by state or by a legislator’s last name. You will have the most leverage with the legislator or congressperson representing your local voting district, as your vote contributes to whether or not he/she stays in office.|
|Writing Letters to Your Representatives||Contacting your representatives allows you to take an active part in the production of child policy. Letters should address a single topic and be kept to a page or less (about three paragraphs). In the first paragraph, introduce yourself and state why you are writing. If you are writing about a specific piece of legislation, include the name and number of the legislation. In the second paragraph, detail your point more fully and include any supporting evidence or examples you have. Finish the letter by stating what action you want taken and thanking your representative for his/her time and consideration.While paper letters may be sent in the mail, your correspondence will reach your representative quicker and more efficiently if it is sent electronically, as security measures have slowed the postal process. Make sure to include your contact information with the letter, even if it is sent in email form.These tips were compiled from the following sources:
Communicating with Congress (emailing and calling)
Members of the CWRU community may access additional guidance on protocol and procedures related to interactions withpublic officials through the CWRU Office of Government Relations.
|How to Write an Op-Ed Piece||Op-eds are short opinion pieces written for local or national publications. Writing an op-ed piece is an excellent way to present your views on child-related issues to a wider audience. Here are a few tips on how to write a convincing op-ed piece:
1. Op-ed pieces should be submitted to a publication that will reach the desired audience, be it a community newsletter, a local newspaper, or a national news syndicate. Direct your argument toward your target audience, and write in a style that will resonate with these readers.
2. Make one point only. State this point at the beginning of your piece, support it with up-to-date statistics, anecdotes, or other forms of evidence, and then close by stating your point again and proposing a route of action. Don’t waver on your position.
3. Make your writing clear, concise, persuasive, and engaging. Avoid clichés.
4. Don’t assume that your readers are already versed in your topic. Provide explanations and background information where necessary and avoid jargon.
5. Follow the submission requirements for the publication to which you are submitting your op-ed. These requirements – including word counts, formatting, and submission deadlines – can usually be found on the publication’s website. Submit your op-ed piece with a cover letter including all contact information, any bio material that you want printed along with your name, and a statement on why your topic is timely and relevant.
These tips were compiled from the following sources:
|How to Give Testimony||You can provide testimony for legislation concerning children at the federal and state government levels.
State Level Legislative Hearings (Ohio specific):
Testifying at a legislative hearing is an effective form of communicating your concerns regarding legislation that affects you. Many of Ohio’s newspapers print weekly schedules of legislative committee hearings. If you wish to attend a committee hearing or to testify, information may be obtained by calling the committee chairman’s office, your representative’s office, or the appropriate Legislative Information Hotline number. Before the hearing, you must fill out a witness slip indicating your desire to testify. You need not appear in order to testify, as written testimony is welcome. However, your presence will add emphasis to your position. Before testifying, try to anticipate any questions you might be asked, and practice your responses so that you’ll be prepared. Remember that your testimony will be short, approximately 3 minutes. Begin your statement by giving your name and who you are affiliated with (if anyone), as well as any credentials that may qualify you as an expert on the legislation being proposed. State your position for/against the proposed legislation, identifying the legislation by both name and number. Summarize your position then explain it in more detail. When finished, thank the committee for allowing you to speak. Be sure to prepare written testimony and make enough copies for all committee members.
Federal Level Legislative Hearings:
At the federal level, you must be invited to give testimony. Prospective witnesses are typically interviewed prior to the hearing and then issued a formal invitation by the committee or legislative body. This invitation should include the rules of the specific hearing in which you will be testifying, including any time restrictions. Written testimony must be submitted in advance, and is then given orally during the hearing. Opening statements are given by the committee, with witness testimony proceeding next. Witnesses give a brief summary of their written testimony and then are asked questions by the committee to expand upon what was already stated and to clarify points which are unclear. After the hearing concludes, it is possible that you will receive further questions in writing to which you would need to respond.
Members of the CWRU community may access additional guidance on protocol and procedures related to interactions with public officials through the CWRU Office of Government Relations.
|Working With the Media||If you are contacted by the media for information on your child-related work, keep the following in mind: They are looking for accessible information. Your responses should therefore be crafted in a way that captures the essence of your work while making sense to the general public.They may just be looking for a sound bite. Begin by giving a concise, thirty-second response that summarizes they key points of your work. You can then elaborate if further questions are asked.|