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Unbalanced Scales of Justice

Policy and Advocacy

United as a powerful voice in early intervention and early childhood special education (EI/ECSE), members of the Division of Early Childhood (DEC), offer expertise, experience, and passion through their policy and advocacy work. Together with multiple partners, DEC motivates stakeholders to take action and pave the way for improved funding, accessibility, and implementation of EI/ECSE services. Additionally, all advocacy efforts are aligned with DEC's Mission and Ends

DEC provides members with numerous opportunities for advocacy and political involvement, such as grassroots organizing, networking, and action-taking on issues through the Children’s Action Network and leadership opportunities at the DEC Subdivision level. From CEC's Legislative Action Center to the weekly Policy Insider Blog, members can access tools to understand policy efforts, connect with policymakers, and energize advocacy efforts. 


DEC Policy and Advocacy Structure

Roles and responsibilities of the:

  1. Executive Policy and Advocacy Committee

  2. Policy and Advocacy Council

  3. Advocacy Team

  4. Policy Writing Team

  5. Grassroots Advocacy

  6. Children's Action Network (CAN)

  7. Capitol Team

DEC Activities:

  • Review documents, define the issues, determine options, and identify questions to solicit input for policy recommendations and positions

  • Consider and analyze input across stakeholder groups on policy topics

  • Respond to U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services requests for comment to prioritized annual policy goals

  • Provide membership with resources and information on various issues and policies

  • Work with the Children’s Action Network to support advocacy efforts that are aligned with the committee's annual goals and objectives

Advocacy Resources

The following resources offer information and tools to advocate for issues that matter most to families and professionals in the field. 


The Children's Action Network (CAN)

One of the most powerful tools DEC members have is the ability to use our collective voice to advocate for young children with disabilities and their families. The Children’s Action Network is a communication network that works toward positive governmental changes at the local, state, and federal levels. The CAN network is a grassroots advocacy network that engages DEC members in policy and advocacy efforts through each DEC state Subdivision. The purpose of CAN is to motivate members, colleagues, and communities to take action on issues important to the field.

DEC Policy and Advocacy Outlets 

DEC collaborates with other organizations that support young children, their families, and the professionals who work with them. Download the list of organizations with website and social media links to help increase awareness of policy efforts and enhance advocacy efforts. Members who are interested in receiving regular updates directly from the DEC partners can read their websites, subscribe to newsletters, or follow their social media outlets.  The contacts listed are a sampling of organizations that provide updates on a wide range of local, national, and international policy and advocacy issues. Many of these organizations also offer state and/or local affiliations that offer even more chances to engage in awareness and advocacy efforts.​

A Calendar for Advocacy: When to Talk to Your Legislator and What to Talk About  

These are general rules for state legislatures to support your advocacy.​

Advocacy Resources

Do's and Don'ts

What do professionals need to do to keep themselves safe while advocating? Early childhood providers who work in public school or government funded programs are able to advocate as community members and stakeholders in public education. However, they must be aware of the legal and ethical obligations that they should adhere to. Access the document here. 

How to Advocate in Your State 

Learn about why advocacy is important, what advocacy can look like, and how to communicate your message. Access the document here.

Legislative Process 

Learn about the legislative process from measure to law. Access the document here.

Taking Action Through Speaking to Your Legislators 

As professionals in our field we can impact the decision-making process in many ways. Knowing how to approach and communicate with your local, state and federal legislators is one very important step. Access the document here. 

Three Steps to Build and Maintain Relationships with Your Elected Officials 

To impact and advance special and gifted education and early intervention policy it is important to understand the legislative process and establish relationships with your elected officials and their staff! Developing relationships with policymakers will yield positive outcomes in your advocacy and networking efforts.

Resources developed by the Policy and Advocacy Unit of CEC​

CEC's Legislative Action Center: A service that allows you to send an e-mail directly to your member of Congress, find out the latest legislative happenings, or find members of the media in your local area. DEC encourages our members, parents, and those who work with young children with exceptionalities and their families in the United States to use the Legislative Action Center.  Yours is an important voice in our efforts to support policies and practices that promote positive outcomes for young children and their families.


Federal Laws, Legislation, and Spending


Information on the Federal Agencies, Committees, Laws, Register and Budget

Policy and Advocacy Committee

The Policy and Advocacy Committee assists DEC by providing members with a variety of resources to enable them to advocate in their states. The committee is also involved in many of initiatives associated with DEC priorities. 

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