At Children’s of Alabama, we are committed to advocating for children since they often cannot speak on their behalf in community, legal and governmental proceedings. Our Government Affairs and Community Relations team advocates for all children and serves as a voice that can influence public policy, implementation and outcomes.
Frequently Asked Questions About Advocacy
The following questions and answers about advocacy are based on materials provided by the Children’s Hospital Association. Special thanks to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for permission to reprint.
What is legislative advocacy?
Almost anything done to influence a legislator's position on legislation or public policy. Writing letters, making phone calls, visiting legislators and testifying before committees all come under the heading of legislative advocacy. A lot of advocacy is just a matter of individual, private citizens speaking out by writing, calling and meeting with their legislators and other public officials. It means literally "to plead the cause of another." Legislative advocacy just carries that "pleading" into the legislative or public policy arena and does it on behalf of people we may not know personally. It is a practical way for individuals to translate their concerns about children into policies and laws.
Why is legislative advocacy important to children and Children’s of Alabama?
Public policy is critical to children's health and the ability of Children’s of Alabama to serve them. Children have different health care needs than adults, they represent only a small fraction of the health care marketplace, and they are the poorest segment of the population. As a consequence, they don't have the economic clout to command attention sufficiently to ensure all their needs are met. That is why legislation establishing public policies on children's health is so important.
What is grassroots legislative advocacy?
Grassroots legislative advocacy encourages many individuals who share the same concerns to speak up about those concerns when they talk to legislators and elected officials. In the children's hospital community, it means bringing together many people who care about children and children's health and organizing them to communicate with elected officials in an effective and efficient way, such as letter writing, phone calls and personal visits.
Why is grassroots legislative advocacy important for children?
Legislators at both the state and federal levels rarely hear from their constituents about children’s issues. We can’t afford for issues that impact children to be decided by elected officials who are unfamiliar with children’s needs. From our participation in Family Advocacy Day at the national level as part of the Children’s Hospital Association to involvement in state and local policy councils and task forces, Children’s of Alabama encourages its patient families, employees and supporters to participate in the process.
Who are grassroots advocates?
Examples of people who have become grassroots advocates for children's hospitals are administrators, doctors and nurses, other health care professionals, trustees, volunteers, parents and hospital donors.
Why should you become a grassroots advocate for children?
In order to build a better future for our children, we need to actively participate in public policy debates and help shape decisions that will influence the future. Grassroots legislative advocacy is the bridge between imagining a better life for children and taking the concrete steps to make it a reality. Your participation as a grassroots children's advocate will ensure that all of our elected officials are hearing regularly from the "folks back home" about what is important for children.
Is it legal for me to be a legislative advocate?
Federal and state governments limit the amount of legislative advocacy in which nonprofit organizations may engage, but there are no such limits on private citizens who act on their own time. In fact, legislative advocacy by a private citizen is a constitutional right of every citizen, protected by our Bill of Rights just like freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The writers of our Constitution recognized that our democratic system works best when individual citizens are fully engaged, advocating their views on public policy to their legislators.