August 2011 U.S. Poverty Laser Talk

Meet with Members of Congress During the August Recess

Our August 2011 U.S. Poverty Action focuses on setting up face-to-face meetings with members of Congress during the August recess. Below are some resources to help you prepare for those encounters.

Call Your Representative’s or Senator’s Scheduler to Set Up a Meeting

When contacting the scheduler to set up a meeting, have an idea of when your group is available to meet, how many will attend, and the subjects you want to discuss. Here is a sample request you can make when calling the scheduler:

Hi, my name is _________________, and I am a constituent of Rep./Sen. _________________ from _________________. I am also a volunteer with RESULTS, a grassroots group working to end hunger and poverty here and abroad. I know that Rep./Sen. _________________ values input from constituents on the issues that matter to us. With that in mind, our local RESULTS group would like to schedule meeting with Rep./Sen.______________ while he/she is home this month to discuss smart investments in early childhood development programs such as Head Start and child care assistance. There will be at least ____ of us at the meeting and these are the issues we would like to discuss. What times would he be available to meet? We have a flexible schedule and can meet at his/her convenience.

Learn more about scheduling a face-to-face meeting using our Face-to-Face Meeting Activist Milestone.

Ask a Question at a Town Hall Meeting

Town hall meetings can be an excellent opportunity to get members of Congress to publicly take a position on your issue. It is also a great way to educate the audience about your issue. Below is an example of a question you could ask during this month’s recess.

Head Start, Early Head Start and child care services are the kind of smart investments we should prioritize in a time of deficits because they enable low-income parents to access reliable child care while they work and provide at-risk children with the early learning experiences they need for success in school and life. Yet Head Start only serves half of eligible preschoolers, Early Head Start only 5 percent of eligible infants and toddlers, and child care subsidies only reach one out of seven low-income working families.

Early childhood services like Head Start and child care work. They not only benefit participating children and their families, but also society as a whole through reduced need for social services, better health outcomes, lower criminal justice costs, and better self-suffciency for families. Despite this impressive return on investment, these programs face serious cuts as part of the new deficit reduction law.

We need Congress to protect at-risk children and working families. Will you please speak with the House and Senate Labor-HHS subcommittee members and urge them to support an increase of $1.2 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and total allotment of $8.1 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start in FY 2012? These levels will sustain effective, high-quality services for at-risk, low-income children and their families across the nation.

Learn more about scheduling a face-to-face meeting using our Town Hall Activist Milestone.

What Is a Laser Talk?

A laser talk serves as a useful starting point for your advocacy work, whether as a talking points during a town hall meeting or as a primer for face-to-face meetings with candidates and elected officials. Follow up with more information and evidence supporting your points. And of course, adapt a laser talk to reflect your own experiences and why you care about the issue! For more on how to create your own laser talk, see the RESULTS Activist Toolkit: Create and Deliver Your EPIC Laser Talk and see our June 2011 U.S. Poverty Action for more background on these issues.