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The Idea Patch

Working Individually and Collectively
to Move the National Children’s Agenda Forward

Ideas generated by participants of the
National Children’s Alliance Regional Forums, Spring 2000
Idea patch graphic

Communication

Develop & Disseminate National Children’s Agenda (NCA) information to various audiences throughout the country.

  • Take information from the Regional Forum discussions back to respective constituents and organizations, inform them of the "window of opportunity", and ask them to work collectively to speak to government, and to personal and professional contacts about the importance of the NCA. Encourage them, in turn, to speak to community leaders and politicians.
  • Develop a website with interactive capacity to allow the posting and sharing of information, and promote its access and usage.
  • Develop and/or share print materials, such as: press releases, newsletter inserts, and articles for association newsletters; produce facts sheets about the NCA in a range of languages. Use a multi-faceted approach, such as petitions, letter campaigns, e-mail, networking and list-serves to target parents, businesses, and organizations. Email and list serves help maintain group contact.
  • Develop key and consistent messages and information and common issues that can be used at all levels for use as speaking notes for various audiences, such as politicians, bureaucrats, funders such as the United Way, and voluntary sector groups and associations. Agree as a collective about our key messages (refer to the original NCA document).

  • Develop and/or share media and public relation tools: designate a ‘bank’ of people to take the story and run with it on talk shows (like Cross Country Check-up). Maintain regular contact with the print, radio and TV media on children and family issues and services.
  • Plan events, such as meetings, a forum or conference, or tie into those already in the planning to speak about the NCA. Plan a youth forum, followed by a forum with all organizations including government and stakeholders invited.
  • Collect and disseminate grass root client experiences of what has worked and what hasn’t worked. Publicize good, and bad stories so that NCA is always in the news.
  • The National Children’s Alliance (The Alliance) could mentor provincial/territorial alliances. The website could provide some material.
  • Have local groups write a position statement and release it at intervals to key audiences.
  • Send reports to respective provincial/territorial governments.
  • Conduct additional workshops and opportunities for networking (as funding permits).
  • Provide a list of Forum attendees, complete with address, phone numbers, and e-mails to all Forum participants.

 

Advocacy & Government Relations

Work together to convey to governments why it is urgent that they come to an agreement in the upcoming months, and why children and youth must be placed high on the agenda.

  • Urge respective national or parent organizations and affiliates to support this initiative.
  • Draft a letter to respective premiers to open up/renew discussions on the NCA with the federal government.
  • Recruit celebrity advocates.

  • Lobby MPs and MPPs at the constituency level to ask for clarification and follow-up on the Alliance consultation paper.
  • Invite to the table: Aboriginal agencies; academics; professional bodies; labour; include the voices of parents; children and youth; the private sector; and parks and recreation to increase the voices speaking out on the issues.
  • Keep provincial/territorial opposition parties in the information loop.
  • Meet with strategic members of Parliament, officials from respective and related children and family ministries.
  • Utilize letter campaigns because they do work: Draft letters/postcards to MPs (Health, Education, Human Resources and Employment, Justice), signed by children and parents, staff and boards, Alliance members and their respective networks.
  • Talk about the issues of children, and respective provincial/territorial activities as components of a National Children’s Agenda.
  • Continue to press the provincial/territorial governments about the National Children’s Agenda through regular day-to-day work and channels.
  • Link with other national organizations in their lobbying efforts.
  • Encourage the children, youth and families we work with to get involved.
  • Schedule neighbourhood, community and "kitchen table" meetings.
  • Develop public lobbying activities around provincial/territorial events, such as the National Child Poverty Conference, and National Child’s Day.
  • Develop an effective lobbying mechanism that consists of input from interested parties, groups, and stakeholders.
  • The Alliance could develop a kit for communities on "Advocacy"
  • Develop provincial/territorial high profile community leaders to help move the NCA forward.
  • Expand the network of support for agreement on the NCA and early childhood development issues.
  • Use community events such as MLA picnics to make more people aware and spread the word.
  • Identify the key players to get involved to support the effort: government; the business community; parents; and the community as a whole, and begin to involve them in the effort.
  • Set up meetings with related Ministries: Health, Social Services, Education, Attorney General, Community & Cultural Affairs, premiers, related federal MPs of all political parties to push the NCA.

Public Education & Awareness

Raise the level of public awareness about the National Children’s Agenda, by engaging the media and putting a "human face" on the issues.

  • Consider what can be done within, between, and among existing organizations such as participants of the Regional Forums, and Regional Health Authorities.
  • Animate the provincial/territorial counterparts of the members of the Alliance.
  • Expand existing alliances/coalitions. Expand to include other organizations that have an interest but are not represented on the Alliance. Establish a provincial/territorial Children's Alliance (or facsimile) in each province and territory.
  • Hold facilitated meetings – mini-forums – and include consumers and other organizations.
  • The Alliance could develop a public awareness strategy targeted to the media and contract a PR consultant to implement it. Ideas could include:

    • contacting all members of the Alliance to spearhead a provincial/territorial letter-writing campaign of school children and parents;
    • plan a march;
    • drafting children and youth testimonials to decision-and policy makers and delivering them through the media to increase public awareness and support; .
    • a public mobilization component: develop a million name petition campaign for early childhood development services. Target events such as World Women’s March; Week of the Child, and Week of the Family.

  • Strike an action committee to determine the best approach to getting the message to government. Use the material from the revised edition of the National Children’s Alliance report to educate and raise community awareness.

Participate With the Voluntary Sector

Develop new partnerships and linkages with organizations and groups at all levels of the voluntary sector.

  • Develop new partnerships with: Boards of Trade, Kiwanis/Rotary Clubs, faith groups, labour, parent councils, early years groups, and youth groups, child care providers.
  • Conduct "one off" meetings for planning future meetings and actions. Develop plans through the participation of community stakeholder meetings, to include: representatives of the Alliance, business, corporations, labour, and VIP’s.
  • Use existing provincial/territorial alliances, such as education, to expand and include other sectors, such as: recreation, childcare, health.
  • Get the word out! Approach voluntary organizations to disseminate information out to our networks and members. Provide key community representatives with key messages to disseminate to their networks and spread the word. There is power in numbers.
  • Work on common goals with front-line workers, provide team building and communication skills.

Policy Development

  • Hold a provincial/territorial forum with policy makers and service providers, at which youth and families speak to their needs and successes. It must be positioned as a joint effort. Federal, provincial and territorial politicians and bureaucrats NEED to attend, and media must be invited.
  • Promote the creative thinking of experts such as Dr. John Abbott and Dr. Fraser Mustard showing the basic principles underlying the education of all children, the determinants of health of children, and the critical link between family well being and the healthy development of the child.
  • Keep elected representatives aware of new developments and research findings in the area of children’s services.

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