Building Advocates in Montana

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Last week, Nick Vucic, Government Affairs Associate, and Sara Miller, Communications and Public Affairs Specialist, flew across the country for a trip to Helena, Montana for a two-day on-site advocacy training.    collage 1 (1)

The training began with some ice breakers and an overview of advocacy vs. lobbying followed up with a couple of hours of updates from the federal level. The team talked about CCDBG, the Proposed Rule from HHS, the Government Shutdown, Sequester, and more. After many questions and answers, the room moved into breakout groups to discuss goals and barriers the state of Montana is facing in the early childhood community.

Each group then presented their goals and barriers and the group ended the day playing a rousing version of Advocacy Jeopardy.

The following morning, the training started earlier than planned and with coffee in hand, for another day of learning about advocacy.

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Sara led everyone through the Child Care Aware® of America website pointing out resources and ways that the organization is here to help members in the states and parent engagement, which was a great way to transition into a discussion about social media.

We discussed FacebookTwitterPinterest, and how to make all forms of social media help advocacy efforts. There were a few questions and then we moved into the final portion of the day: takeaways and next steps.

We were excited to see that many advocates in Montana were excited to learn about all of the great movement going on at the federal level and to gain more knowledge about making social media work for them.

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Click here to read about our advocacy trips to New Jersey, Florida and Delaware.

Florida On-Site Advocacy

Earlier this week, members of the Child Care Aware® of America Policy Team jumped ontampa a plane and went to Tampa for a one-day on-site Advocacy Training. They worked closely with the Children’s Forum in Tallahassee to put together a jam-packed agenda for each of the 60 attendees at the training.

The morning started off bright and early with an ice-breaker session where each attendee went around stating their name, organization and the name and location of their elementary school. Everyone in the room was quickly flooded with memories of early learning and the opportunity to better the quality of early education for today’s children.

Following the first session, the team jumped into the meaty information. There was a brief lay of the land presented by Phyllis Kalifeh of the Children’s Forum and Ted Granger from United Way. This was followed up by a presentation and conversation related to advocacy versus lobbying. Great discussion was had about where the line is drawn and how far organizations can go on the advocacy front.

At 10am, Shannon Rudisill, Director, Office of Child Care called into the training and gave a real-time overview of the new HHS Proposed Rule. We then discussed the new CCDBG bill, the President’s Early Learning Agenda and how Florida can weigh in on each of these opportunities.

The morning session wrapped up with a breakout where each team of 6-8 discussed current challenges, what they would do if they had a magic wand and what the reality looks like in the state of Florida.

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After the breakout groups posted their ideas on the wall, the team began working on state advocacy over lunch. While enjoying salads, each attendee learned about parent and child care provider engagement and how to build a state advocacy day in the state of Florida. The discussion then jumped into how crucial social media is in today’s advocacy world, inspiring many attendees to jump on Facebook and Twitter to learn more.

The day then wrapped up with a final breakout and team presentation of each group’s roadmap for the future. Each attendee then went around the room sharing takeaways, bright ideas, next steps and new information learned from peers. One idea learned during the session was to always bring someone to a training with you as you never know who will attend and become an early childhood advocate. One attendee even brought the mayor’s wife!

Overall, the day was full of information, resource sharing and network building. Everyone left the training with a renewed passion, ready to improve the quality of child care in the state of Florida.

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Photo courtesy of The Children’s Forum

Read about our on-site training in Delaware here.