In any society, governments pass laws, make policies, and allocate resources. For us this occurs at multiple levels: federal, state, and local governance. Public policy can be generally defined as a system of laws, regulatory measures, courses of action, and funding priorities concerning a given topic publicized by a governmental entity or its representatives.
Individuals and groups often attempt to shape public policy through education, advocacy, or mobilization of interest groups. While shaping public policy is obviously different in America than in other countries, it is reasonable to assume that the process always involves efforts by competing interest groups to influence policy makers in their favor.
A major aspect of public policy is law. In a general sense, the law includes specific legislation and more broadly defined provisions of constitutional or international law. Legislation often determines the amount of funding allocated to a particular interest so it is not surprising that public policy debates occur over proposed legislation and funding.
Along these lines, advocacy can be defined as attempting to influence public policy through education, lobbying, or political pressure. Advocacy groups often attempt to educate the general public as well as public policy makers about the nature of problems, what legislation is needed to address problems, and the funding required to provide services or conduct research. It is clear that public policy priorities are influenced by advocacy. Sound research, data and practice can be used to educate the public as well as policy makers, thereby positioning for more responsive public policy and legislation.
For our part, the Hope Starts Here (HSH) office is strategically defining annual policy agendas filtered from the HSH Framework 26 policy priorities. Each year with the stewardship board, the Office will assess remaining need, progress for children and families and the current political climate to better determine which policies need to be elevated, and even adopted to respond to issues at hand like COVID-19 and its impact on childcare, health and more. Policy efforts underway and those to be developed are plotting a policy roadmap that ultimately leads us to achieving a responsive, coordinated, and sustainable early childhood system for young children and families in Detroit.
While the HSH team in 2020 participated in a number of activities as highlighted below, the impact of these efforts is far greater if combined with the advocacy of community members and fellow early childhood advocates. For this reason, we also call YOU to action along-side us. We very often hear “a picture is worth a thousand words.” The truth is that our voices can paint and create unimaginable experiences that no picture can show. “The tongue can paint what the eyes can’t see.” – Chinese Proverb
HSH Team and Stewardship Board Activities in 2020
- Attended the National Association for the Education of Young Children conference
- Meetings on Capitol Hill to provide further awareness regarding child care: what is needed to better sustain the workforce and best support children and families in Detroit and in Michigan
- Meetings with incumbent and newly seated legislators (12) to educate and elevate HSH policy priorities while building relationships
- Provided testimony during two committee meetings on hot-topic legislation such as changes to adult-child ratios
- Participation in and alignment with Michigan’s Pritzker Prenatal-Three (PN3) grant activity development, and the implementation of the Preschool Development Grant (PDG)
- Developed sign-on letters advocating for targeted approaches in support of providers and families
- Leading into the November election, held an impactful virtual policy summit with over 200 attendees