Parent Advocacy Day teaches parents to speak up

CONCORD – “Deciding to be an active advocate for your child can be nerve-wracking,” said Julie Day, Strengthening Families Director at New Hampshire Children’s Trust, “but we want to show parents just how much their voices matter and how easy it can be.”

On Friday, Oct. 16, more than 40 parents came to the Legislative Office Building in Concord to learn how to speak up for their families and children at Parent Advocacy Day, a half-day event held by NH Children’s Trust in partnership with Every Child Matters in NH and NH AEYC.

The day was kicked off by Rep. Skip Berrien, who reassured participants that representatives and senators wanted to hear from their constituents.

“We have several hundred bills to vote on each session,” Berrien said. “Hearing your support or concerns about these bills helps each of the 400 representatives and 24 senators to decide how to act on these important issues affecting the future of your children, families and the State as a whole.”

The day continued with a lesson on presenting testimony to state officials by email, letter, phone or in person. Although the mock legislation was a light-hearted example about serving pizza in schools three days of the week, parents learned a lot from the lesson and took the exercise seriously.

“Knowing that I can contact my legislators and use my voice encourages me to be more of an activist,” one participant wrote.

NH Senator Dan Feltes held a mock hearing for participants on Medicaid expansion. Throughout the process, he stressed to the parents how important their individual stories and testimonies are to their elected officials.

“It’s not scary, we’re all people,” State Rep. Charles McMahon reminded parents during his mock hearing on EBT card legislation.

While grade-school children go on field trips to the Capitol Building, many parents aren’t given the opportunity to tour the Statehouse and learn what happens in the many meeting rooms. During Parent Advocacy Day, a majority of the participants were eager at the chance to take a tour.

NH Children’s Trust’s mission is to lead the drive to eliminate child abuse and neglect in our state. They believe all children can thrive in a safe, stable and nurturing community and family. 

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