Advocacy Resources

Sending letters to your legislators

A personal letter is one of the most powerful tools you can use to advocate a policymaker. It needs to be your own story and your own viewpoint.
  • Write to your own legislators. They listen to the people who live and vote in their districts (their "constituents").
  • Be sure to include your full address so they can write back. You may also want to include your phone, email, or other contact information.
  • Date your letter.
  • Keep it short and simple. One page is best, two at most.
  • In the first paragraph, explain who you are (if you're writing as a concerned individual or writing on behalf of an organization) and why you are writing. If you are writing about a bill, include the bill name, subject, and bill number.
  • Explain your position. Use personal examples.
  • Be clear about what you want the legislator to do.
  • Ask for a response.
  • Write on only one issue at a time.
  • Make your tone positive.
  • Follow up (especially if they do what you ask), write again to say thanks.

Use this sample letter as a guideline for your own correspondence with elected officials.

A Sample Letter

(Date)
The Honorable (member’s name)
State House
200 West Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Dear Senator/Representative (member’s last name):

I am writing to ask for your support to increase funding for Direct Support Professionals to help reduce a major workforce crisis. Every day over 20,000 Direct Support Professionals perform important work that empowers people with disabilities to live a good life. We support clients in homes, community sites, and businesses, but are underpaid for the invaluable work we do that makes it possible for people with disabilities to live, learn, and earn in the community.

Stone Belt and all other disability service providers are crippled by workforce shortages. Low pay, due to lagging Medicaid reimbursements, creates challenges with recruiting and retaining adequate numbers of direct support staff. People with disabilities depend on us and their quality of life is negatively impacted by staffing shortages, high turnover, and burn-out.

For over 60 years, Stone Belt has provided opportunities and experiences in employment, lifelong learning, community living, and achieving positive emotional health to more than 1,300 people with developmental disabilities annually. Unfortunately, many of Stone Belt’s Direct Support Professionals struggle financially and depend on public assistance. Furthermore, there is tremendous stress to cover workforce shortages of up to 20%, which causes burn-out and a continual cycle of turnover.

Share personal stories about how you are making a difference.

  • What would a pay raise mean to you and your family?
  • What are your current challenges?
  • How does the workforce crisis affect you?

Thank you for taking the time to review my concerns about this important issue. I am counting on you to address the workforce crisis for services to people with developmental disabilities.

I am available to answer questions or provide testimony on this important issue.

Sincerely,

Your name
Address
Phone Number
Email Address

A man and woman are silhouetted at the bottom of the grand staircase at the Indiana State House.

Sending an email to your legislators

Sending an email to your legislator is another effective way to advocate. Just like a letter, an email needs to include your own story and viewpoint.
  • Start your email with "Dear Representative/Senator".
  • Make your email brief, friendly, and respectful.
  • State your issue and what you are asking clearly at the beginning.
  • Refer to a bill number when possible.
  • Make it clear you are a constituent.
  • Briefly explain your interest in the legislation; its effect on you, your family or other families in the district.
  • Ask the legislators for a response specifying his/her position and the reasoning.
  • Ensure that you "sign" the email with your name, address, and phone number.
  • If you are willing, share your email with The Arc. They can use your email to demonstrate to the legislators, and others, there is a public interest on specific issues.

Join Our Advocacy Team

If you want to make a difference in the lives of people with developmental disabilities by advocating for their rights at the local, state, and federal levels of government, join our advocacy mailing list for updates, news and calls to action.
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Stone Belt Arc is the local chapter of The Arc in Monroe County. The Arc is committed to all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities realizing their goals of living, learning, working and fully participating in the community. The combined strength of local Arcs, The Arc of Indiana and The Arc of the United States makes The Arc the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Learn more about The Arc by visiting www.arcind.org and www.thearc.org.

Copyright © Stone Belt Arc 2020. All Rights Reserved.

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