Advocacy Deborah Adamczyk Dixon, M.A., C.C.C.-SLP ASHA Director of School Services
Learner Objectives • Identify key advocacy issues • Gain a working understanding of advocacy strategies, techniques and levels of influence • Explore ways to build effective cross stake holder interest in YOUR issue
What is Advocacy? • Advocacy is the pursuit of influencing outcomes — including public-policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions — that directly affect people’s current lives. (Cohen, 2001) • Advocacy can be seen as a deliberate process of speaking out on issues of concern in order to exert some influence on behalf of ideas or persons. • Cohen, D., R. de la Vega, G. Watson. 2001. Advocacy for social justice. Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press Inc.
Why Be Involved in Advocacy • Your right • Part of ASHA’s code of ethics • Empowers • Accomplishes goals • Opportunity to participate in government/local decision making process • Helps with understanding of the political/policy process • If you don’t advocate for yourself or your professional interest, who will? • Advocacy needs to be a part of your job description!
Why be involved in advocacy? Roles and Responsibilities of Speech-Language Pathologists in Schools –ASHA document • Advocacy— To assume productive roles, SLPs must advocate for appropriate programs and services for children and adolescents, including reasonable workloads, professional development opportunities and other program supports. Because some of the roles SLPs assume may be new or evolving and may not be clearly understood by others, SLPs have a responsibility to articulate their roles and responsibilities to teachers, other school professionals, administrators, support personnel, families, and the community. They also work to influence the development and interpretation of laws, regulations, and policies to promote best practice.
Potential Advocacy Targets • Workload • Salary Supplements • Budget changes • Higher salaries • Extra benefits • Certification and licensure • Improved work conditions • Access to training, materials etc • Better services for students
What are Your advocacy targets? • Find a partner and discuss your priority for your advocacy efforts • Share your comments with the group
Recruitment/retention • They can’t hire and keep enough SLPs in my district so I’m doing the work of……!!! • They don’t have the money to hire a school based audiologist!
What Shortage? Considerable shortage • Special education teachers (English and Bilingual) • Speech-language Pathologists and Audiologists • School Psychologists Some shortage • School nurses • Physical therapists • Occupational therapists Data Source: Educator Supply and Demand research, Relative Demand Comparisons 1996-2006, American Association for Employment in Education
What is the Problem? • Growing Demand • Lack of enough prepared professionals • Not enough funded positions • Insufficient funding for incentive programs • Personnel attrition in special education and related services in the first five years of employment • Personnel attrition due to retirement • Limited supply of qualified professionals willing to work in certain communities (rural, high poverty, high crime) or with specific populations (minorities, culturally and linguistically diverse, socially or economically disadvantaged) • More career choices for woman
Consider the Statistics Current ratio of audiologists to students 1: 71,555 • More than 7 times above the recommended ratio Shortage of school based SLPs • 55% reported more opening than job seekers in 2010 survey
Impact of Shortages ASHA Schools Survey (2010) • Increased caseloads (81%) • Decrease in opportunities to provide appropriate service delivery (52%) • Increased use of contracted services (49%) • Decrease in the quality of service (48%) • Decrease in job satisfaction (48%) • Less opportunity for networking and collaborating (37%)
What’s a nice Speech-language pathologist or audiologist to do?? ADVOCATE !
Not Just a Special Education/SLP Issue • 53% of students with disabilities (SWD) spend 40% or more of their day in a general education classroom • Each general ed. class has an average of 3.5 SwD • General ed teachers’ confidence in serving SwD is dependent on their relationships with special educators / SLPs • 37% of general ed. teachers report they receive little or no support for SwD Spense study 2001, OSEP,www.spense.org
Shifts in Thinking Over the last 40 years, how we address the needs of students has evolved… We have changed our thinking on how we teach and how children learn. These discoveries have resulted in changes in educational practices, policies and laws.
How many? What percentage of teachers have students with disabilities in their classrooms? 96%
Effective Advocacy By changing people’s INTEREST to their NEEDS You can increase VALUE
Effective Advocacy An effective advocate is a person or group of people who work effectively to bring about positive change. Grassroots advocacy is about getting results on issues of importance to the person or group
Determine Your Advocacy Objective • Determine your priorities • Survey members • Determine Priorities • Establish Working Group • Identify Chair • Include a variety of stakeholders • Set Goals
Establish an Action Plan • Develop State/Local Plan • Include important components • Set realistic timeline
Strategies • Identify commonalities • Link with like issues • Raising public awareness • Involve public • Highlight issues with human interest with human interest stories in the paper , radio and news • Information sharing • Briefs/ guides/ talking points
Recruit Advocates • Establish data base • Establish communication system to maintain contact with committee members and advocates • e-mail network • phone tree • action alerts • Updates • Blogs • twitter, Facebook,etc
Identify Decision Makers • Legislators, Department of Ed, union leaders, special education administrators, principal/school board • Match grassroots advocates (constituents) with key decision makers • Consumers/parent advocates
All Politics is Personal • Personal contacts work best • Generate a support group • Decision makers tend to pay more attention to larger groups , especially if the group represents a variety of constituencies • Individually composed letters get attention • Direct phone call suggesting specific action is powerful
Powerful Influences (Blackwell) • Face-to-face conversation • Original letters • Telephone calls • Articles in newspapers
Other Means of Communication • E-mail • Fax • Text • Legislative/rally day • Testimony • Public hearing • Hosting site visits • PAC activities • Facebook • Twitter
What do Legislators Listen To? • On some issues little impact can be made (ie. NCLB, abortion, gun control, etc) • Regulatory and technical issues that are less visible can more readily be a point of education for a legislator. • Give them the knowledge • Give them the reason to care about the issue
Focus on Critical Time Frames Develop strategies for four time frames: 1. From present to election day- support candidates who are likely to support your initiative and be visible with support 2. From election day until the start of legislative session –build relationships w/ newly elected ; identify key staff; 3. From start of session to end- communication strategy; key contacts 4. Long Term – nothing happens over night
Develop the Message and Talking Points • Accurate • Brief • Tell them something new • Personal story
The Message • Be able to convey your message in thirty seconds or less • If you can’t get their attention in 30 seconds, you haven’t focused your message • Humanize the message –paint a picture of who is impacted by the issue • Make the stories memorable and credible
Drafting the “Big” Message This is the overview of the message that gets enough people to engage in change • Moral- Is it right? Is it in public interest? Is it a good thing to do? • Practical- Will It work? How can you show it will work? • Political-Does it have widespread support? Who cares and how much do they care?
What Works and What Doesn’t Work? These have little impact: • Petitions • Mass mail. Email and telemarket These have stronger impact: • Personal , thoughtful communication • Letters/emails • Faxes • Phone calls
Deliver the Message • Make an appointment and be on time • Present message in a clear concise way and stick to it! • Use facts and data to support your position • Eliminate jargon • Share a personal story to hit home • If you are asked a question that you can’t answer, promise to get back and do!
Do’s and Don'ts During Visits • DO’S: • Be positive • Do ask for support and wait for a reply • Do write a thank you note • Do inform your committee of the results of the meeting • DON’T: • Don’t be confrontational • Don’t get off message • Don’t use jargon • Don’t overstay your welcome
Sustain the Effort • Keep members of the group informed • Set realistic goals/timelines • Celebrate accomplishments Recognize efforts • State convention • Web site • Newsletter • ASHA Leader
Self Advocacy Self advocacy is taking responsibility to influence the decisions that affect the profession as well as specific individual concerns that may be present in one’s work environment.
Components of Self Advocacy • Identify the issue • Identify what is important about the issue • Identify who needs to be involved • Establish networks • Develop effective problem solving strategies for all concerned parties • Identify workable solutions
Effective Meeting Strategies • Give a clear description of the problem and its impact on client progress or staff productivity , using data to support your argument • Frame the issue as a joint search for a mutually acceptable solution • Identify shared interests as well as differing perspectives
Meeting Strategies • Discuss problems and concerns openly and respectfully • Use active listening • Separate people from problems- attack the problem not the people • Provide at least several solutions with a clear rationale on how each could be accomplished • Take notes • Follow up with memo, phone call etc
Engaging the Teacher’s Union • Form local SLP and audiologist subcommittee • Propose contract language • Find a seat at the table • Get involved in the bargaining team • Prepare a variety of options • Build support for the proposal
Case Study # 1 Marissa is an SLP in a small district in a collective bargaining state. When she was hired in August, she was told her caseload would consist of 25 students in a preschool special education program and “a few” of the K-3 students in the school. By November, she had a caseload of 54 and was just told she will now have to provide services in another building due to an unexpected resignation. At the same time, the local union is boasting about their success in lowering class size in elementary classrooms.
Case Study #2 • Jack is an experienced SLP in a small city. Recently he was told the district is adopting a new process for referrals. He will now have to work with students in the general education setting, implementing several pre-referral strategies before recommending an evaluation. • He is concerned because • Each intervention plan must have full documentation and data collection for a six week period • He has no open time on the schedule for this RTI work • He feels unprepared to do gen ed strategies • He will have to “make the case” to the RTI team before being allowed to do a full assessment
What is the issue? • Who would care? • Who needs to be involved? • How will you influence key policy makers? • What resources do you need? • What are your expected outcomes?
Most of all • Be flexible and engaged • Continue to learn • Enjoy your career • Make advocacy a life style! • Have a sense of humor!!
Your ASHA GRPP Liaison Susan Adams, JD Director, State Legislative & Regulatory Advocacy Government Relations & Public Policy American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Direct Line: 301-296-5665
Advocacy Resources • ASHA’s Advocacy resources http://www.asha.org/advocacy/ • ASHA’s grass roots advocacy resources http://www.asha.org/advocacy/grassroots/ • ASHA’s local advocacy resources http://www.asha.org/advocacy/state/LocalAdvocacy.htm • School funding advocacy http://www.asha.org/advocacy/schoolfundadv/default • School Advocacy resources http://www.asha.org/slp/schools/resources/
Advocacy Resources • Workload resources http://www.asha.org/slp/schools/resources/schools_resources_caseload.htm • Advocating for salary supplements http://www.asha.org/publications/leader/archives/2006/060905/060905b1.htm • State, National Efforts Address Personnel Shortages http://www.asha.org/publications/leader/archives/2008/080325/080325d.htm