Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Famlies Talking to Congress

Members of FV Indiana recently had the opportunity to visit our congressional delegation in Washington. We would like to share how important your input is to each of them. While families are welcomed to schedule visits if they are in Washington, there are also ways for you to connect with them while they are home in Indiana. All representatives regularly attend events within their districts and are happy to hear from you when they are home. You can connect with their home offices to find out when they will be available to meet you in Indiana. Email is another great way to connect. It is quick and easy to send an email, introducing yourself, sharing your story and putting a critical face to the federal legislation and funding that touches your child. An easy way to identify and connect with your Senators and Representative it through the Congressional directory.

How can your story make a difference?

It can help others understand what life is like for families who face special challenges

It can help public officials understand the situations families live in and the influences on families’ decisions and behaviors

Families can provide insights about how to work effectively with them as partners, and how to design educational programs, services, and public policies that will best meet their needs.

Policymakers base their decisions on information they have available to them. They can’t be well versed in every issue. Families have an important role in sharing information and first-hand experiences with policymakers to help them understand the reality and complexity of situations that families face.

How do you tell your story effectively?

Remember you are speaking because you are a parent. Your family experiences are valuable.

• Think about what you will say in your letter or meeting. Organize your ideas.

• Identify two or three main points you want the audience to learn.

• When you begin, briefly explain what your story will be about—
“I am going to share the special joys my children bring and what I want for their future, as well as the difficulties I have had trying to get support and services for my family.”

• If you feel comfortable, use examples of what actually happens inyour home, in your family, and at work. Situations or short stories help the audience remember these challenges are real for you and your family.

• Start with your present situation and then explain your experiences leading to this point.

• Use your own speaking style.

• Focus on the person to whom you are telling your story.

• Acknowledge your emotions. Telling your family story can be
emotional, so take deep breaths and set boundaries on what you
want to share.

• Briefly review what you said and what you want others to understand.

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