Now that you know who your legislators are, let’s talk about the best way to contact them. As a constituent, you carry a lot of power with your elected officials – remember, they work on your behalf. Simply visit our Legislative Action Center at www.capwiz.com/nach. There you’ll find pre-written letters to your legislators you can personalize with your thoughts on why quality health care for all kids is so important. Many congressional staffers say a personalized letter carries more weight since it illustrates that the constituent took the time to tell his or her story.
While our pre-written letters will cover most of the basics, here are some more tips on writing to legislators:
- Begin by introducing yourself as a constituent. Many legislators won’t accept letters or emails from folks outside their district.
- Make the ask. Within the first paragraph, specify what action you want taken and, if possible, refer to bills by name or number.
- Briefly explain the issue you are referencing – this is your chance to educate legislators on how the policy will affect you.
- Make it personal. Briefly share your story about how your legislator’s actions will directly impact you, your community, your job, and your family.
- Ask for your legislator’s view on the issue. If they agree with your opinion, you can hold them accountable if they don’t vote your way.
- Include your name, home address, email address and phone number. It is important to include your home address so you can be identified as a constituent.
- Include a link to your CarePage or blog if you have one.
- Keep the length of your email to three or four paragraphs, and less than 500 words.
When to Write
There is no wrong time to communicate your concerns to your legislator, but there are key times in the legislative process where legislators may be most receptive to your point of view (these are indicated by TAKE ACTION on the chart).
- After a bill is introduced and assigned a number it is sent to the appropriate committee. This is a great opportunity to educate your elected official on the impact that the new legislation may have on children’s health. Committees are always seeking input from the public, and sending an email can provide just the right amount of detail and personal touch.
- Just before a committee takes action or votes is another ideal time to reach out to your legislators with a clear request to vote for or against proposed legislation.
- When a legislator acts favorably on your request, follow up with a thank you note regardless of whether or not the end result of the vote is consistent with your position. The thank you note strengthens the constituent/legislator relationship and helps reinforce that constituents pay attention and are engaged in the entire legislative process.
- Congress still accepts snail mail, and many legislators say they appreciate hand-written letters. But keep in mind that because of security restrictions it can take more than three weeks for your letter to arrive.