Framing in the Field: How to Build Support for Funding Children's Programs

How can child advocates communicate a strong message to legislators to avoid the upcoming budget sequestration cuts to children’s programs?

At a recent joint conference in D.C. sponsored by Kids Count and Voices for America’s Children, the FrameWorks Institute presented a hands-on workshop to help child advocates in this endeavor.

The majority of the advocates in attendance were members of non-profit organizations who work to ensure that all of America’s children are healthy and educated. As such, these advocates need to be able to effectively communicate the importance of children’s programs to decision makers so that these policies remain a top priority for government funding.

To help these and other child advocates, we draw upon communication insights from our latest toolkit that integrates messaging on budgets and education. This toolkit includes our research and recommendations for telling a core story that enables the public and lawmakers to understand why investing in children’s programs is a smart move for our country.

We provide a basic outline of this story below:

1. Why Care About Funding Children’s Programs?

Prevention Values:

“We need to take steps today to prevent the problems that we know will affect the long-term prosperity of our state and country. This means investing our resources today in children’s programs to enable children to grow into a strong generation of achievers.”

Prosperity and Ingenuity Values:

In order to keep America prosperous now and in the future, we need to remember that child development is the foundation for our economic development. Together, we have the ingenuity and resources to implement innovative policies to help today’s children contribute to a prosperous society tomorrow.”

2. How Does Public Funding for Children’s Programs Benefit Society?

Forward Exchange Metaphor:

“A good public budget is one that plans for the future by accounting for the needs of children today. As citizens, we pay taxes forward, not for the immediate exchange of public goods, but so we can have the prosperous and healthy society we need in the future.

It is our responsibility to make sure children’s programs figure high on our budget priority. These programs are an investment in our country’s economic development. They are the most important way we can ensure that our all children develop the skills they need to become future productive citizens in our communities.”

 3. How Do Early Childhood Developments Programs Benefit Children and Society?

“Brain science has shown development during the early years of life affect the architecture of the maturing brain. The quality of brain architecture establishes either a sturdy or a fragile foundation for all of the development and behavior that follows—and getting things right the first time is easier than trying to fix them later when the child is older or an adult. To do so, we need to ensure that adequate funding for early childhood development programming and resources is available today to help prevent problems from developing down the road.”

4. How Do Specific Children’s Programs Benefit Society? After including the above values and metaphors in your story, discuss specific children’s programs as solutions. Those programs may include:

Children’s Health Programs                                                      Child Protective Services

Children’s Education Programs                                                Child Care Programs

Children’s Nutrition Programs                                                  Child Tax Credit

How are you using the core story on funding children’s programs in your organization? Let us know and we will feature your organization in an upcoming post!



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