On January 3, 2019, the 116th Congress was sworn in. As new members take to the halls on Capitol Hill, Jumpstart’s Policy & Government Relations (PGR) department is gearing up for an exciting year advocating for policies that support you and the children and communities you serve. In the Member Newsletter last fall, the PGR department highlighted the why behind our work, now we will begin to explain the how.
Setting Policy Priorities
What is up first on our docket? Setting policy priorities. The PGR department already has a head start there thanks to the work completed in years prior. The primary policies the department advocates for include:
- Accessible, high-quality early education
- A professional, stable, and well-compensated early education workforce
- Affordable higher education that incorporates valuable workforce training opportunities
- A commitment to national service
For a deeper dive into Jumpstart’s policy priorities, read: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Through Kindergarten Preparedness: Jumpstart’s Policy Principles
Getting the Lay of the Land
What’s next? Analyzing the new Congress and state governments; essentially re-learning the who’s who for the new session. Who is in leadership? Who is assigned to which committees? Who is representing each district where Jumpstart children live? Who will be the policy champions for Jumpstart priorities?
After gaining a strong understanding of the lay of the land, the PGR department will deepen and build relationships with elected officials and their staff to learn where our priorities may align with their own. The department will also work to educate them on the important work YOU are doing every day in their hometowns.
The Building Blocks of Advocacy
Building and maintaining strong relationships with the individuals who decide which policies are enacted and which are not is the cornerstone to effective advocacy. Elevating Jumpstart’s expertise in early learning in the eyes of policy holders is key. After 25 years in the field, we know early education, but it is incumbent upon the PGR department to ensure that our local, state, and federal policymakers know it too.
We building these relationships with legislators and their staff in a myriad of ways, including in-person meetings, emails, and phone calls, by coauthoring newspaper opinion pieces, testifying before Congress, inviting Congress members to attend Jumpstart sessions, and more. Perhaps you will have a chance to meet an elected official visiting your Jumpstart classroom this spring!
However, it is important to remember that we are only able to do what we do because of what YOU do, and this extends beyond the hours you spend in the classroom. Stay tuned for the next newsletter outlining how the work you do today is vital to our work, as well as how to remain engaged after your service concludes.