Meeting with Your Legislator
Early Childhood Advocacy Toolkit
Elevate early learning & healthy development in the capital
Want to share your thoughts and recommendations on how Ohio can better serve our youngest, most at-risk kids? What better way than going directly to our elected officials who have the power and responsibility to create real improvements and sound investments in our early education and healthcare systems. Meeting with your legislator gives you the opportunity to share your passion for kids, the barriers you face to providing quality care, and the shared goals of early childhood professionals across the state. Use the step-by-step guide below to plan and prepare for a meeting with your legislator.
Preparing for a Your Meeting
1. Schedule a meeting with your legislator.
Once you have identified your legislator, you can simply call their office to schedule a meeting. When you call, be sure to have several date options and to schedule as far in as advance as possible. If your legislator is unavailable to meet, scheduling a meeting with one of their legislative aides can be equally as effective.
2. Gather a strong case for supporting investments in early learning.
Ohio faces many, varied challenges that legislators will be asked to address in the upcoming budget process. Be sure to prepare a clear argument for why investments in quality early learning are worth prioritizing. Include any specific challenges you have faced, as well as those facing our system as a whole. Need a place to start? Check out our resources.
3. Prepare a specific ask.
In addition to sharing why your legislator should invest in quality early education and healthcare programs, it is important to share how they can do so. Need help developing your "ask"? Contact us.
4. Identify roles and goals.
Now that you have prepared the messages you want to articulate, it's time to identify the roles each person will fill and your overarching goals for the meeting. If you're bringing colleagues, parents, or other community leaders with you, be sure to identify who will introduce the group, share your case for support, make the ask, etc. This will help ensure efficient and clear communication during your time with the legislator.
5. Prepare additional materials.
As you make final preparations for your meeting, consider bringing additional resources to leave behind with your legislator's office. Helpful resources can include an overview of your program, additional information about the case for investing in early learning (check out some of our resources here), and written versions of your policy or budget asks.
During the Meeting
1. Plan to arrive early
Give yourself ample time to travel to your meeting, find parking, and get to your legislator's office a few minutes before your meeting is scheduled. If you are meeting a member of the Ohio House of Representatives in their office, your meeting will be held at the Vern Riffe Center and if you are meeting a member of the Ohio Senate, it will be held at the Ohio Statehouse.
Parking in the Statehouse lot, which provides easy access to the Riffe Center and Statehouse, often fills up quickly. There are several other parking lots within walking distance you can also utilize if necessary.
You will have to go through a security checkpoint before entering both the Ohio Statehouse and the Riffe Center. More information about security protocols for each building can be found here: Ohio Statehouse Security | Riffe Center Security
2. Start with introductions.
It sounds simple, but adding context to your meeting by starting with clear introductions can add credibility to your case for support and ultimate ask. As you begin the meeting, have each participant share their name, role (e.g. teacher, parent, administrator, etc.), and that you live or work within their district. If you are representing an organization or program, it is also helpful to share how many children you serve and some information about the families with whom you work.
3. Remain focused on your goal.
Throughout the meeting, it is important that you remain focused on your goal--to make a strong case for supporting your policy and/or budget asks. Give yourself ample time to hit each of your key points, share your ask, and answer questions your legislator may have. Refrain from using industry jargon, focus on conveying those elements that will best support your ask, and ensure all participants have a clear understanding of their role.
4. Make your ask clear.
Your legislator will expect that you have budget or policy requests, so don't be shy in sharing your ask. Be clear and specific about the ways he or she can support improved access and quality in our early learning and health programs. Don't know what your "ask" should be? Contact us for more information.
5. Promise continued engagement.
As you wrap up your meeting, let your legislator know that you look forward to serving as a resource to them as they work with their colleagues to improve outcomes for kids and ensure long-term economic success for Ohio. Promise to follow up with any additional information they've requested and share that you plan to continue engaging throughout the budget process to advance quality early learning and healthy development for Ohio's most at-risk kids. Don't forget to take a picture with the legislator or legislative aide before leaving!
1. Share the meeting on social media.
Share pictures and details from your meeting on social media, in your newsletter, on your website, etc. When possible, tag your legislator in the posts and share pictures.
2. Send a thank you note and follow up information.
Always follow up with a hand-written note to your legislator thanking them for their time, provide any additional information you promised during the meeting, and remind them of the asks your shared.
Meeting Follow Up
Have additional questions about meeting with your legislator? Contact us.
You're on a roll... don't stop now. Check out some additional ways you can advocate for Ohio's youngest learners: