When most people think of how to advocate for children in Virginia’s foster care system, they think of the winter time, visiting the General Assembly during its busiest time, running from meeting to meeting. But what about the rest of the year, like this summer? You may be wondering if there’s a way you can advocate for change to the foster care system without making those trips to the General Assembly during session, and the answer is…YES!
For those of you who regularly participate in our advocacy day and meet with legislators during General Assembly session, there’s plenty more you can be doing in our “off-season.” And for those of you who have never explored engaging in advocacy work but are curious, there are some great ways to dabble and see if it’s right for you!
How to Advocate for Children in Virginia’s Foster Care System
Now is a great time to:
- Brainstorm! What obstacles have you encountered in your experience with the foster care system? What recommendations do you have to change within the foster care system? You, the individuals and families with lived experience, are the experts on these issues. The summer is a great opportunity to take some time to brainstorm what we could be working on together in the future. You can do this individually, as a family, or join together with other advocates and families to brainstorm as a group. Just make sure you take notes to remember all of these great ideas for future years as well!
- Finesse Your Message! Whether you’ve shared your story before or this is your first time, now is a great time to work on finessing your story. Take some time to sit down and really write out all of the points you want to make when you share your story. What’s your goal? What details do you need to share to accomplish your goal? What details would you like to share but aren’t necessarily critical to your goal? Narrow your message down to ensure it is short and to the point but also includes all of the information needed to accomplish your goal. Practice sharing your message with your family, close friends, or other confidants. While sharing your message may feel intimidating at first, the more you do it, the more natural and comfortable it will become and the more impactful it will be!
- Spread Awareness! You may be extremely passionate about the foster care system for one reason or another. Maybe you were in foster care yourself, maybe your children experienced foster care, or you have another loved one impacted by the foster care system. There is so much awareness to be spread in our communities, and you are the best messenger to spread that awareness! Talk with your friends, your church group, book club, or swim team friends about why we should all care about these issues as a community. Let them know how they can help solve the foster care crisis. The summer is a great time to plant seeds within your community to encourage others to join our advocacy work and improve the lives of children impacted by foster care throughout Virginia.
The Advocacy Team at CHSVA
Of course, you are not alone in doing any of these things this summer. CHSVA’s advocacy team is here to help guide you with any of these ideas.
Whether you’re interested in having a brainstorming session facilitated or want to help finessing your message, reach out to Cassie Baudean, Director of Policy & Strategic Operations, at email@example.com for help! We appreciate all you do to build our community and positively impact the lives of countless children and youth!