Does your early childhood collaboration take part in advocacy actions or campaigns to garner support and needed resources for children and their families? Effective advocacy helps to ensure organizational, community and larger system change and sustainability over time. While some advocacy may include lobbying, not every advocacy activity requires a person to lobby. There is a spectrum of advocacy efforts that can be engaged in by local collaborations that feed into and strengthen the collective voices raised on behalf of our youngest learners. Visit the “About Advocacy” page to learn more about advocacy and how your collaboration can get involved.
What is Advocacy?
When we speak up against (or in support of) an issue we identify to be of great importance, we are engaging in advocacy. The “About Advocacy” page provides good examples of what advocacy is and lists the essential ingredients needed for effective advocacy:
- Education: Understanding and communicating issues, impacts, and concerns.
- Leadership: People willing to take action and speak up about issues.
- Action/engagement: Creating change by organizing a group of people to make it happen.
We all engage in some form of advocacy, but how we advocate is dependent on the type of change we are trying to make. Take a look at this advocacy continuum. The examples provided show a range of activities that people might do to bring about change at the organizational, community or system level. Whether educating families on early childhood issues, hosting a community forum, or participating in Media advocacy – action is needed!
Building Strong Advocacy Networks
Establishing a strong advocacy network is vital to moving towards positive and sustainable community or system change. Advocacy networks help to build momentum around a common message. Networks vary in size, but create a greater richness and reach through the inclusion of diverse voices, resources and leaders. Ensuring network participants are informed and ready to take action on statewide strategies and policy opportunities helps to strengthen the early childhood system and improve outcomes for young children. For more information on advocacy networks, see Promising Practices In … Introduction to Advocacy Networks (September 2014). You can also view the most recent Illinois Early Childhood Collaboration Profiles (September 2015) to learn more about the advocacy work that some collaborations are already doing.
Join Illinois Action for Children’s statewide network of advocates and stay informed on issues impacting field of early care and education.
Visit the “Advocacy Tools” page for additional resources and tools to help your collaboration better advocate for children and families. Review tip sheets on speaking to legislators and the media. Learn about the difference between nonprofit “advocacy” versus “lobbying.”
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