Citizen Action Kits

February 11, 1999

Karen Hirsch of the Campaign Steering Committee knows there's a lot that Massachusetts citizens can do for kids with little effort. Hirsch, who boasts over ten years of advertising experience, started volunteering with the campaign one day a week to write marketing letters and organize volunteers. She believes that materials like the Campaign's Citizen Action Kits successfully build an informed, organized and active citizen constituency for children in Massachusetts.

"Everybody has time to make a phone call, or go online or write a letter," Hirsch says. The Campaign distributes Citizen Action Kits—folders of information on particular topics, such as children's health care—to help ordinary citizens explore issues and action steps for Massachusetts. The Call to Action reads:

  1. Join the Campaign for Children and formally declare your commitment to action.
  2. Become familiar with the KIDS COUNT data and understand how children in your community and state are faring.
  3. Read prepared fact sheets and learn about the impact of federal and state policies and proposals on children.
  4. Join with local groups in your area concerned with children and family issues to promote the Children's Agenda.
  5. Agree to receive future briefings and action alerts so you can stay informed.
  6. Record the names, addresses, phone, fax and email numbers of your local, state and congressional representatives.
  7. Set aside at least one hour each month to communicate to these leaders your opinions about pressing children's issues highlighted in Campaign briefings and action alerts.
  8. Talk with your family, friends, and co-workers and with members of your church, temple or club about your concern for children and encourage them to join the Campaign.
  9. Plan a visit with your local Senator and Representative to let them know you want them to vote for policies that will support children and their families.
  10. Vote in upcoming national, state, and local elections and select candidates that will fight for children's rights and protections.

The Citizen Action Kit on children's health care also provides:

  • a schedule of nonpartisan lectures covering issues that face Massachusetts children and families, including child care and mental health services for children;
  • a State of the Child report that surveys the status of kids across the state including the number of children without health insurance and the teen birth rate;
  • an overview of computer resources for data on children's issues information; and
  • a report on family support systems that contrasts a new approach to child well-being with traditional office-based approaches.

The Action Kits link citizens directly to their legislators and encourage individuals to take the leap from learning to acting on behalf of kids. The issues can be overwhelming at first, but according to Hirsch one thing makes it easier: "Everybody has a personal story," she says, "and everyone has been affected by kids' issues."