Why Engage Parents as Advocates?
Parents can and should be your CHAMPIONS! They can tell personal stories about how important ELO programs are to their children and family. Some parents can be the best advocates for your program because of their ability to speak passionately about the personal impact of your program on their children. Parents can also be excellent influencers, motivating others to support your program. These type of testimonials are a powerful and highly effective means of increasing public support and funding for afterschool.
K.I.S.S.(Keep It Short and Simple)
Most parents today have very little time and energy. When recruiting parents for help with advocacy initiatives, keep it short and simple.
- Respect parent’s schedules
- Make meetings short
- Maintain straight-forwards rules
- Provide talking points for parents to utilize in conveying their message
- Debrief with parents prior to and following an initiative
How can parents help advocate for your ELO program?
It’s important to let parents know that they don’t need to invest a lot of time or energy in order to be a strong voice for ELO programs. Here are some ideas to get parents started advocating right away for ELO programs in your community:
- Encourage parents to call or email your city council, mayor, or state representatives. Let local and state government leaders know that ELO programs are important. Provide parents with talking points to include in their conversation or written correspondence.
- Circulate a petition. Have fellow parents, friends, neighbors and other community members sign a petition showing their support for ELO programs.
- Host a community event at your afterschool program. Invite current and potential community partners to take part in a celebration/event in your ELO program. Provide an opportunity for parents to be able to speak at the event and visit with these community leaders. A “Lights On Afterschool” event is a great example, though these events can be smaller in nature and be just as effective.
- Organize a letter writing campaign. Encourage parents to write letters in support of ELO programs to local elected officials, such as the mayor and the city council.
- Set up a site visit for local elected leaders. Work with your ELO program leaders to plan an afternoon for local leaders to visit the program and see how ELO programs work. Invite a few parents to be a part of this visit and allow them to speak about the importance of the program to their family.
- Encourage parents to attend policymaker meetings. Provide parents with talking points to include in their testimony to school board, chamber of commerce, and city council meetings.