Thursday, November 20, 2008

Changing Public Policy Where You Live

CHADD recently collaborated with sister family advocacy organizations demonstrating that you, working with others, can change government policy where you live.

During the past eleven months CHADD has participated in a state public policy advocacy project in collaboration with the National Health Council (NHC). CHADD Pennsylvania, a collection of unpaid volunteers who initially met in January 2008 and officially organized in June 2008, was able to secure the introduction of legislation in both the Pennsylvania state senate and state assembly to allow part-time college students with disabilities to continue health insurance coverage under their parents' policies. Click here for details on the Pennsylvania legislation.

A 2007 National Health Council survey found that only one percent of those affected by chronic illnesses and disabilities are advocates on behalf of "patient advocacy organizations." An objective of NHC and CHADD is to increase citizen participation in governmental issues.

CHADD is one of fifty voluntary health agencies/patient advocacy organizations that belong to the National Health Council. "Voluntary" health agencies are those governed by non-compensated volunteer boards of directors. "Patient" advocacy organizations are those who advocate for a single illness, disability, and disorder. CHADD was one of four VHAs selected to receive staff technical assistance to influence state or local legislation. The other three were Alopecia Areata Foundation, Epilepsy Foundation, and Huntington's Disease Society.

The key to success in state and local public policy advocacy depends on four tasks:
1. Break Down the Walls - Involve consumers and families in advocacy work; Create a work group.
2. Identify an Objective and Secure Resources - Organize and target resources to the objective.
3. Maximize "Inclusion" - Make noise - Develop strategies and tactics.
4. Stay Focused - Stay on message - Implement your targeted objective.

Click here to read the entire NHC report, Grow Your Grassroots and Better Influence Public Policy: Strategic Advocacy Plan and Case Studies From the National Health Council.

Keep at it.