Giving Compass' Take:

• Ounce of Prevention Fund provides detailed instructions for and examples of different forms of advocacy that individuals can use to advance early childhood initiatives. 

• Which of these approaches would you support? Who can help you advance your advocacy efforts for early childhood education and care?

• Learn about a center tracking policies that impact early childhood education

Advocacy is building support for an issue among audiences such as the general public, elected officials, the media, and key opinion leaders. Activities such as educating audiences about a topic, sharing illustrative stories, or working on a solution to a problem are considered advocacy. Individual citizens can always contact their elected officials as constituents. State and federal governments do not regulate the public at large from participating in advocacy or lobbying activities. Remember to use your personal e-mail and telephone when contacting policymakers.

The goal of early childhood advocacy is to improve the lives of children and families by influencing legislators’ and policymakers’ opinions and activities. To carry out their responsibilities, public officials require and welcome the advice that well-informed people (like you) provide.

Types of Advocacy

Case Advocacy: Intervening to address an individual child or family’s problem. By being aware of and documenting service-delivery problems, providers can share important information and collect examples that help identify policy issues.

Administrative Advocacy: Creating new policies, revising guidelines, and resolving program problems through activities directed at administrative and governmental agencies with authority and discretion to change rules and regulations. Many decisions are made informally, so interacting with the managing entity—rather than working through the legislature— can be the most effective way to make a positive change.

Legislative Advocacy: Working with elected officials to educate them about policies or programs and to inform them of the impact of the program in their home district. Advocates can educate decision-makers and suggest policies that would benefit their community. Legislative advocacy activities can also include lobbying on specific bills or requested funding levels.

Media Advocacy: Using media to increase public awareness and influence broader public debate about early childhood issues. Keeping your issue in the news creates public recognition and support, thereby increasing its practical and political importance.