Dear Joining Voices Members,
Every day, you do the critically important work of nurturing and educating our youngest children, all while running small businesses and caring for your own families. We see you and we celebrate you for all that you do. And, we want to make sure that our elected officials see you too. That’s why we created this toolkit–to support you in sharing your voice with the people who make decisions that impact you, your child care businesses, and the children and families you serve.
We know that your work is not easy, and that there are many challenges with the way early care and education is compensated and valued in our society. But we also know that you are the ones with the solutions. You know the types of resources and support that will allow you to thrive better than anyone, and you know the needs of the children and families who rely on your program. It’s time to make your voices heard.
Thank you for taking the time to let our elected officials know how important it is to invest in child care and the people who provide that care. We hope this toolkit gives you the tools you need to do that. Please reach out if there is additional support we can provide.
Jennifer, Laura, Jackie, Yenny and Mary Beth
Maryland General Assembly
What is the General Assembly?
The Maryland General Assembly is a legislative body of elected officials who make policy decisions at the state level. Like Congress, which consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives, Maryland’s General Assembly also has two parts: the Senate and the House of Delegates. There are 47 Senators and 141 Delegates in the General Assembly, and they meet every year for what’s known as a “regular session”–a period of 90 calendar days beginning in January during which State Senators and Delegates pass legislation and pass the state budget.
What role does the General Assembly play in the child care system?
The General Assembly has the power to make policy and funding decisions that impact the wellbeing of young children, their families, and their child care providers, including:
- The budget for the Maryland State Department of Education, including the Division of Early Childhood Development and Division of Special Education / Early Intervention Services
- Legislation that impacts the availability and quality of child care, education and related services
- Legislation that supports the economic wellbeing of families
- Legislation that impacts the health and safety of children and families
The General Assembly has a critically important role to play in supporting the success of the child care field in Maryland. Because the General Assembly has power over MSDE’s budget, they have an obligation to ensure that policies are serving the needs of children, families, and providers.
How do I contact my State Senator and State Delegates?
The first step is to determine who your State Senator and State Delegate(s) are (you will have one State Senator; you may have one or more State Delegates depending on the population of the district where you live). To do so, type in your address here; once the results populate, scroll down to the section titled “Maryland Legislative District.” You will see the name of your State Senator and State Delegate(s), and will be able to click on those names for more information. To easily send an email to one or more of your legislators, click the checkbox next to the names of the ones you would like to contact and select “Email” next to “Contact Checked Legislators.”
Email Template (General Assembly)
Email is a great way to contact your state legislators to let them know what is important to you. When you write an email to your elected officials, you want to be sure to do the following:
- Introduce yourself, including your name, role, child care program, and where you live
- Clearly state why you are contacting them and what you want them to do
- Share some brief background information that supports your ask (this can include a personal story, data, etc.)
- Reiterate what you want them to do (this is a great place to ask them to visit your child care program or set up a meeting)
- Thank them for their consideration and let them know how you would like to hear back
See below for an email template that you can use in your outreach to your state legislators. Please note that you will need to customize the portions highlighted in yellow to reflect your personal information and experiences. You should also feel free to add to or change parts of this message so that it feels right to you.
Dear (Senator/Delegate + last name of the elected official),
My name is (first and last name) and I am a family child care provider in your district. I own (name of your program), a small home-based child care business that supports my community by allowing parents to go to work knowing that their young children are safe and learning. I am also a member of Joining Voices, a group of child care advocates across Prince George’s County and Anne Arundel County. I am emailing today to ask you to (a quick summary of what you want them to do; for example, you might ask your state legislators to invest in the Child Care Scholarship program to ensure greater access for children and families, make needed modernizations to the program’s administration, and help providers get paid in a timely manner).
There are steps that the Maryland General Assembly can take to address these challenges.
I am confident that with your support, we can strengthen the child care system in our district, for the benefit of children, families, and child care providers. Please let me know how we can partner to address these challenges moving forward. I would be happy to schedule a time to meet to share more information. In addition, I invite you to visit my child care program to see my work in action and discuss additional opportunities to support child care. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
(First and last name)
(Email), (Phone Number)