WHAT IS LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY?
Legislative advocacy refers to efforts to influence the introduction, enactment, or modification of legislation. The most common means of legislative advocacy is direct lobbying, which entails contacting a legislator, sharing your views on an issue, and asking him or her to vote a specific way on a bill.
WHY IS LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY SO IMPORTANT?
Because it works! We can make a powerful impact on the child protection system by speaking up for children at the Capitol as well as in the courts. Legislators are more likely to listen and take action on a bill if they hear from their constituents that it is important. Without the help of volunteers across Texas, our priority bills are less likely to be successful. Your voice matters!
WHY ARE CASA VOLUNTEERS SUCH EFFECTIVE LEGISLATIVE ADVOCATES?
For the same reasons that they are effective advocates in court! CASA volunteers are:
• Well trained to speak up for children professionally and persuasively.
• Motivated to serve the best interest of Texas’ most vulnerable children.
• Motivated by the best interests of children and don’t have financial incentives or other hidden agendas when they speak up for children.
• Community members, constituents and voters, which brings perspective and power to their advocacy.
• Knowledgeable about how the child protection system works (and doesn’t work) and can share personal case examples of each, which helps to put a face on the issues.
• Passionate about helping children. Their passion is contagious!
WHAT IS A LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY TEAM (LAT)?
A Legislative Advocacy Team (LAT) is a group of committed CASA volunteers who take their advocacy for children to the next level by using the experience and knowledge they have gained as volunteers to advocate for change in the child protection system. Each LAT has at least one chair: a volunteer who agrees to be the face of the LAT and the point of contact for the group. In addition to the chair, there is at least one CASA staffer who is responsible for supporting the team.
LATs enable volunteers to experience advocating for children on a larger scale. Knowing that you and other CASAs all over the state are working toward solutions to problems many of you encounter can bring another degree of satisfaction to your role as an advocate. You can be the voice to create change not only for the child(ren) for whom you advocate, but for every child in the child protection system!
There are many things that members of LATs can do, depending on their availability and comfort level. Some members feel comfortable writing letters to support changes to the system. Others might want to directly interact with legislators and their staff by meeting with them or inviting them to CASArelated events. CASA volunteers may testify before legislative committees, sharing a particular experience they have had in order to illustrate the relevancy of a bill. We encourage LATs to brainstorm activities quarterly, with Texas CASA’s assistance and support.
HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED?
The 85th Legislative Session begins in January so contact Nicole at 361.595.7233 today to learn more.
LAT training will be held in November 2016.