About This Topic
Welcome to the lesson on legislative
advocacy. The purpose of this lesson is to provide you with the
knowledge and skills to advocate effectively for children
with special health care needs (CSHCN). We will begin with an overview
of what it means to advocate and discuss the various types of advocacy.
We will then narrow our focus to legislative
(policy) advocacy and address a number of approaches and techniques
for effective advocacy.
There are a variety of ways to be an advocate, although most groups
who advocate for children use volunteers and professionals to get their
message to legislators. Legislative leaders may not be familiar with
how children are faring in their states and may not be well-informed
about the policies and programs that work, or their impact on children.
Legislators need clear, accurate information regarding children's issues.
It is important to advocate for CSHCN
because they are a unique group of children. It is estimated that about
18% of children have special health care needs. This group of children
needs to be identified because they use more medical care and have highly
specialized needs. They need access to a variety of providers to meet
their needs. Care often should be coordinated across many systems such
as medical, school, social services, and across multiple sources of
funding. Families and professionals who work with this group of children
know best what does and does not work well for this population.
a broad range of activities in which most people can participate. There
are several different types of advocacy. Self-advocacy means speaking
up for yourself or your family. Case advocacy means helping someone
deal with a complex bureaucratic problem. Public advocacy simply is
community education. Administrative advocacy means responding to a
call for public comment when government proposes a change. Legislative
or policy advocacy is almost anything done to influence legislators,
including voting, writing letters, emailing, and calling legislators.
Many of these activities are things that people do everyday for themselves,
for their families, and for their friends. Advocacy simply
involves speaking up and taking advantage of opportunities.
If you have ever spoken up on behalf of yourself or someone you care
about, you have been an advocate. There is a mystique that surrounds
advocacy -- that you have to be an expert. This is not true. Advocacy
is like anything else; the more you do it, the easier it gets. Practice
What you will learn
By the end of this topic, you should:
- Recognize the importance of advocating for CSHCN.
- Explain legislative
advocacy and differentiate different types of advocacy.
To get the most out of this lesson
We recommend the following learning strategies:
- We suggest that you go to Learning Activity #1 and do the self-assessment
before you read the case study or listen to the lecture. This assessment
will set the stage for the rest of the lesson. You can consider these
questions as you read the case study, listen to the lecture and complete
the rest of the learning activities.