Welcome to another Tuesday To-Do list! This is my weekly feature where I highlight legislative and political issues concerning our families and ask (beg, really) you all to take some action with me. There is strength in numbers! Believe me, at the Capitols, both state and national, we are outnumbered–we have to do a better job of being heard.
Still…I took a break from politics and issues for the holidays…and I’m still not fully back in the swing of things. My own email box is stacked full of important stuff to read and I haven’t read it yet. So this week’s post is just all about staying informed. Because, one thing I’ve learned when I am talking to other families…so many parents ask me, “How do you know all this?”
It’s not hard, it’s just a matter of staying informed. The information is out there and in many cases you can have that information emailed directly to you, regularly!
The other day I updated a post called “10 Websites you should be following if you have a child with special needs.” That post is a good place to start to make sure that you are following the websites that are most valuable to you. A while back I did a post about Google Products that can help you manage your child with special needs. In that post I tell you how to set up Google Alerts. So those are tips #1 and #2 to staying informed.
1. Follow special needs and disability websites that are relevant to you, your family, your community and your child’s disability.
2. Set up Google Alerts (instructions in that other link) so you get relevant information emailed to you.
3. Sign up for Legislative Alerts
This is pretty easy to do. You should sign up for local, state and national. Even if your child is not enrolled in your district of residence, it’s important to know what’s going on.
Sign up for PA Legislative Alerts– This one is pretty self explanatory.
Learn to use GovTrack. GovTrack is supposed to be a non-partisan website for tracking the activity of Congress. From there, you can see the different committees and find some to follow. For example, I follow the Appropriations Committees because they decide where the money goes. I also follow the HELP committee because that affects education and special education and I follow the Ag committees that are involved with SNAP because that is important to me.
Many non-profits such as the Arc and the NCLD also have advocacy departments and send out legislative alerts. So, going back to my suggestion of following websites and agencies that are important to your family….it all goes in a big circle. Follow them all and you will know when important legislation is pending and when to contact your legislators.
Also visit Contacting the Congress and follow your House rep and two Senators.
Once you find your legislators, sign up for their email and possibly follow them on Facebook and Twitter. This is the best list of Senators’ Twitter handles that I’ve found. You can also find the House list here, as well as another Senate list. Don’t forget to follow your Governor too!
Whew! That’s a lot of information, but start slowly, follow and read what interests you and branch out from there.