By Marie Huey, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator
Calling elected officials is a great way to communicate with them. Effective, yet time-efficient, a phone call allows you to connect for any number of reasons.
If you already know what you want to say, the steps are easy.
1. Find out who your elected officials are.
2. State who you are and why you are calling.
Make sure to mention you live in the official’s district. They prioritize constituents.
If nobody answers, leave a message. Include your phone number if you’d like a call back.
3. That’s it! You did it!
If you’re looking to take the next step as an advocate and call your legislator, here are some ideas and scripts to help you get started.
If you don’t already know who your elected officials are, use this great resource to look them up and document their contact information. That way, you’ll be all set when you’re ready to call.
Here some ideas about when to reach out:
Whether you’re new to the area or just wanting to be more engaged in policymaking, simply introducing yourself is a great way to start. You can also ask to set up a meeting to learn more about their work and talk about your passions.
My name is ______. I’m a licensed family child care in your district. I’m working to become more engaged in our community and wanted to reach out to offer myself as a resource on child care policies. I’m also interested in setting up a meeting to get to know you and share about myself. I’d like to find ways we can work together.
Share your position on a current issue.
If a legislative proposal comes up and you’d like to weigh in, a phone call is a great way to do so. You can write down a few notes about why you support or oppose the measure. Staff who answer calls often tally people’s support and opposition to bills and then let their boss know what they are hearing. To be especially effective, register your opinion and encourage your neighbors and friends to do so as well. Make sure you note that you are a constituent. Here’s an example for a made up bill that would increase access for early learning programs
My name is ____ and I’m a constituent. I’m calling today in support of HF7. As a child care center director for 20 years, I know how valuable it is for children to have access to quality early education experiences. This bill would allow more children to access those experiences, which would help our community and others throughout the state. Please vote yet on HF7. Thank you.
Set up a time to meet.
Maybe you’d like to learn more about your elected official. Maybe you’d like to talk in-depth about a topic that matters to you. A phone call to set up a meeting is a great way to initiate either of those. Emailing to set up a meeting can be effective, but a phone call can be faster. An in-person meeting is a great way to build a relationship with your legislator, which will likely make your advocacy more effective. Generally a staff member will answer the phone, not the elected official. Be courteous to the staff member as you work with them to find a time to meet. They set up these meetings often, and you should feel very welcome to schedule a time. Remember, you elected the official to work for you! Here’s what you might say:
My name is ____, and I live in (elected official’s name)’s district. I’d like to set up a time to talk with them about early childhood education.
Ask a question.
Your elected official is there as a resource to you. To stay up to date on what they are working on, follow them on social media and/or sign up for their email updates. If you have questions about a proposal and how it might affect you, it’s also a great idea to call and ask. Staff may be able to answer the question for you, or someone will get back to you.
I’m ____, a constituent of (elected official). I heard that there is a proposal to change requirements about eligibility for Early Learning Scholarships. Could you please tell me more about that, including what (elected official’s) stance is?
If you’re looking for more ideas or guidance about how to call elected officials, here are some additional resources:
The Ounce Early Childhood Advocacy Toolkit includes phone scripts on page 21.
Zero to Three’s Think Babies campaign has tips on calling your United States Members of Congress. They also offer ideas about key messages to share.