The Massachusetts Survey Says . . .

February 11, 1999

The Massachusetts Campaign for Children is part of the growing group of statewide campaigns for children to recognize that survey research has a profound impact on public policy. The Campaign will release the results of a poll of over 400 Massachusetts residents of over 60 questions related to children in June 1998.

Barry Hock, who has advised and managed numerous political and issues campaigns, believes that the opinion poll and subsequent polling activities will give the campaign a major boost in terms of respectability and media attention. The poll, designed with professional pollsters, will be used to back the Campaign's agenda. For example, results will show what percentage of Massachusetts residents think that government should guarantee child care for all low-income families in which someone is working. "We need to get into people's heads," Bernier says, "and find out what issues are driving them, what they're willing to stand up and fight for, and where they're willing to put their money."

One set of questions on the poll deals with awareness and perceptions of child advocacy organizations. Hock calls it "market research for child advocacy." It's part of a more business-oriented approach that the Campaign is utilizing to communicate its message. Says Hock, "We can learn something from the media advocacy efforts of others."

One goal of the Campaign is to build its capacity to do polling on a regular basis. Says Bernier, "We are seeking a grant to help us to develop software and a prototype on how to do statewide survey research on children's issues." The Campaign plans to develop the organizational capacity to be able to conduct regular statewide survey research on children's issues. They will share their products and technical assistance with other children's organizations who will then them to build their own internal capacities.

Bernier recalls many organizations of which the public is unaware, struggling to work for children and families. "They might have questions they would like to raise with the public, but don't have the ability to do survey research," Bernier says. Organizations could pay a small fee to add specific questions to periodic Campaign surveys. It's another example of the Campaign's work to bring groups together to strengthen messages about children's issues.