Engage Your Elected Officials
Meetings with Your Elected Officials
Making the trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with your elected officials isn’t always feasible. But all Members have “district work periods” when they meet with constituents in their home state or district. These “recess” periods can last days or weeks, but even when your Members aren’t back home, their district offices have full-time staff who work directly with the staff in D.C. The district staff serve as key advisors for elected officials and we encourage you to meet with them as well. All of these meetings provide an important venue to share your story.
Prepare for the Meeting
- Find your elected officials using ZERO TO THREE’s Find Your Elected Officials Tool.
- Schedule a meeting by phone or online. To determine when your Member will be home, review the House and Senate calendars. Note that they likely won’t be available for meetings around holidays. Make an appointment 2-4 weeks in advance as their district calendars will fill up quickly. If the Member is not available, don’t hesitate to meet with a staff member instead. Let them know up front what issues you’d like to discuss so they can pair you with the appropriate staffer.
- Use the Think Babies™ talking points as a guide for your conversation. It’s also important to do some background research on their existing policy positions regarding babies and families. There’s good information on a variety of related topics available on the ZERO TO THREE website:
- Bring copies of the Think Babies™ handout to leave with staff.
During the Meeting
- Introduce yourself and provide some background on where you live and work in the district.
- Focus on facts and what you want the Member of Congress to do, but don’t be afraid to include personal reasons for supporting an issue (i.e., “I work with a lot of families where both parents work and still can’t afford a quality child care program.”).
- Be considerate of their time. If you were allotted 20 minutes, practice ahead to make sure you can get your message across without running over.
- If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so, but offer to get an answer.
- Thank the Member and/or staff.
After the Visit
Write or call to thank the Member/legislator/staff for meeting with you. Let them know you’ll be in touch next time the issue comes up for discussion, and follow up regularly with updates. Don’t forget to provide your contact information and remind them about your areas of expertise – they may want to follow up with you down the road!