Guest Post: It’s advocacy time again

Mar 27, 2015  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  1 comment

Vice Chair Steve BakerThis blog post was written by Board of Directors Vice Chair Dr. Stephen Baker.

Dr. Baker is a retired professor of political science from Jacksonville University and former Board Chair.

It’s that time of year: the flowers emerge from their winter hibernation and the Florida legislature comes back into session this month.  Limited to meeting only 60 days per year, those wishing to have an impact on what happens in the legislature regarding children’s issues must organize quickly.

Our elected representatives really want to do what’s best and welcome advice but one thing haunting them is their re-election.  Failing to win voter approval again means everything else they have worked for disappears. Understanding that pre-occupation helps explain why politicians act the way they do.  As such, the most effective advocacy is demonstrating how supporting your issues is not only good policy but will help them gain voter approval.

The main argument in appealing to elected officials for children’s issues is “Pay now or pay MORE later.”  This issue has two dimensions:  the ethical/social one involving moral responsibility and the economic one that shows how funding effective prevention programs today results in substantially fewer of the more costly remedial and custodial programs later.

The ethical/social dimension is relatively easy to understand and has a strong emotional appeal about improving the human condition (especially among those most in need).  Fractured lives and families diminish the entire community. This dimension should always be included in your advocacy but the most persuasive argument is the economic one.  Data illustrating the costs of prevention programs vs. the price of dealing with the consequences of not having those programs is essential.  Pre- and postnatal programs — particularly those dealing with high-risk groups — can be shown to be very cost-effective especially when including lost earning potential (and the associated increased revenues that will be generated).

A typical legislator’s reaction to proposals is to agree with the goals but suggest not all problems are most amenable to government solutions. This is often followed by anecdotes about individuals or private groups that dealt with similar problems and enables the politician to appear supportive but make no commitment (a normal tendency among those whose assistance is requested by many different and competing organizations).  One way of limiting this reaction is prefacing the discussion with something like “Surely not all problems are best dealt with by the government but one that IS involves . . .[insert your program here].”  This sounds like a gimmick but reduces that diversionary tactic.  Another qualifier is the inevitable discussion about the tax implication of your proposal. Again, the diversion can be minimized by prefacing your proposal with “We all want to see taxes reduced wherever possible but the costs of failing to deal with . . .”

In short, the best approach in dealing with elected officials is to look at the question from the perspective of a person about to face the electorate: this is democracy!

Know an amazing teen? The National Campaign is accepting applications for their Youth Leadership Team

Mar 4, 2015  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

YLT.Homepage.SlideshowThe National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy is currently in the process of recruiting a new class for our Youth Leadership Team. Apply online now until May 15th.

The selected teens will have the opportunity to get actively involved, both nationally and locally, in teen pregnancy prevention efforts. During their 18-month term, members participate in a variety of activities that both promote the National Campaign’s teen pregnancy prevention work and expand their own abilities.

The Campaign brings the teens to Washington three times during the term. The youth will have the opportunity to spend time with their elected officials on Capitol Hill, gain media skills, work on projects in their own communities and contribute to social media platforms.

Duval County Food Policy Council seeks participation in Food Assessment Survey

  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

shutterstock_124143796The Duval County Food Policy Council is looking for a diverse group of responses to the Food Assessment Survey. Input will help the Food Policy Council improve the community’s access to food and knowledge about nutrition.

The Food Policy Council is an initiative of the Florida Department of Health Duval County/Healthy Jacksonville that aims to promote healthy and wholesome food and strengthen and expand the regional farm and food economy. The Council includes three task forces: Institutional Food and School Nutrition; Urban Agriculture; and Food System Assessment.


Healthy Start partners with school district, foundations to promote early learning

Mar 3, 2015  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  1 comment

988891_925605424128051_2117614292118537984_nThousands of the highest-risk babies in the Duval County Healthy Start program will get a head start on learning as part of a new initiative, Happy Birthday, Graduate!

The early learning initiative aims to shrink the word, school readiness and educational attainment gaps in Jacksonville’s Health Zone 1 by providing families with materials to encourage early literacy and language, social and emotional motor development and  family engagement. Healthy Start care coordinators will distribute resource kits during home visits to 5,000 families.

Happy Birthday, Graduate! is funded by the Chartrand Family Fund at the Community Foundation for Jacksonville, with matches from the Duval County Public Schools (DCPS), Baptist Health, the Jaguars Foundation and Winn-Dixie. The resource packets include:

The initiative was announced on March 2 — the National Read Across America Day and the birthday of beloved children’s book author Dr. Seuss.

March for Babies 2015

Mar 2, 2015  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

IMG_5098Every day, thousands of babies are born too soon, too small and often very sick. Join the Healthy Start Coalition team as we walk in the 2015 First Coast March for Babies for stronger, healthier babies.

The three-mile walk will be held April 18 at 9 am at Everbank Field in Downtown Jacksonville.

Visit our team page to get involved – march with our team or donate to our page to make sure every baby has a healthy start!

The March of Dimes has supported many of the Coalition’s community-based programs including the Camellia project, funds the statewide 39 Weeks initiative, and provides other support and educational materials to the Coalition.