The Included. Supported. Empowered. campaign is designed to be a repository for stories from the field that demonstrate the impact of the supports and services providers deliver to their communities, day in and day out. From the stories we actively pursue to show the world the value ANCOR’s community brings to the stories we find in the news that beautifully capture what true community integration looks like, we want you to draw from this growing bank of resources as you conduct outreach to policymakers, philanthropic organizations and more.
Still navigating Tool 3 (Identifying & Developing Your Story) and not quite ready to tell your own story? No problem! Follow these step-by-step instructions for how to leverage the dozens of stories you’re already equipped to share.
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Now that you’ve found great stories and videos, what’s next?
In a very general sense, you’ll be best served if you can identify a specific audience for your outreach, craft a specific ask to make of that audience, and use the story or video to reinforce the need for your audience to take the action you’ve asked of them.
To understand how this works in practice, imagine that advocates in your state are seeking to increase DSP wages by urging support for a bill in the state legislature that would mandate an increase in the state’s Medicaid reimbursement rates. One easy and meaningful way to encourage your elected official(s) to support the rate increase initiative would be to send them a letter or email that:
To reinforce the messages in the email described above, you could include links to stories and videos that you identified on the Included. Supported. Empowered. website. For example, to drive home your messages about the challenges you currently face, you could link to this in-depth story about the DSP workforce crisis from Delaware Online. Then, to reinforce the message about your ability to serve more people in the community, you could link to the video of Peter’s story, which paints a vivid picture of the success that’s possible when people with I/DD have the supports they need to live, work and participate in community life.
The remainder of this section outlines additional guidance for the types of audiences you may consider reaching out to, as well as the key messages you might consider sending in conjunction with stories and videos from Included. Supported. Empowered.
Identifying Your Audience
While we envision the Included. Supported. Empowered. campaign to be a resource that fuels your advocacy, simply telling you to reach out to “policymakers” is a broad proposition. Moreover, the stories, tools and resources made available through the campaign have broader application than the policymaker community. Therefore, you may want to consider the following groups of people as potential audiences to which you can reach out with stories and videos from the campaign.
As you likely surmised, the above list is not a comprehensive list of the people whose influence is critical to your ability to successfully include, support and empower people with I/DD in the community. Rather, this list reflects some of the stakeholder groups that can be helpful in creating a more inclusive community, and who can be persuaded to deepen their engagement in your work and with the Included. Supported. Empowered. campaign with the help of some of the campaign’s stories and videos.
* Note: Although local policymakers do not set policies related to I/DD supports and services, they are often key to influencing lawmakers at the state and federal levels. Moreover, local policies can often have an impact on state and federal policies, and vice versa. For example, adjustments to reimbursement rates at the state level may interfere with minimum wage laws established at the municipal level.
Actions to Encourage
While the previous subsection identifies eight broad audiences you may want to consider engaging in the Included. Supported. Empowered. campaign, the table below offers ideas for the actions you might consider asking those audiences to take.
Urge the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to establish a Standard Occupational Classification recognizing Direct Support Professionals as an official occupation.
Ask members of your state’s congressional delegation to support key policy priorities (learn more by visiting the ANCOR Amplifier.
Encourage your state legislator to vote in favor of a bill that would increase the state’s Medicaid reimbursement rates.
Invite the state secretary of health and human services to visit your agency during DSP Recognition Week.
Request that your county commissioner write a letter to the state’s Medicaid director explaining how proposed rate cuts would conflict with the county’s efforts to expand economic opportunity through its minimum wage increases.
Ask your mayor’s office to issue a proclamation establishing a citywide DSP Recognition Week in your community.
Offer potential high-net-worth donors free “VIP admission” to community events hosted by your agency, such as a gallery opening that features the work of individuals with I/DD.
Write a letter to the CEO of a local corporation practicing inclusive hiring that urges deeper commitment to people with I/DD as a natural extension of their ongoing leadership in the community.
Host a career fair and invite volunteers to participate, and then match volunteers with individuals you serve to provide coaching on apply and interviewing for jobs, building a résumé and other professional development activities.
Invite high school students seeking to fulfill their community service requirements to shadow a DSP for a day and learn more about the challenging and rewarding aspects of this potential career path.
Encourage parents of children and teens with I/DD to write and share their stories with blogs, magazines and other publications that cover topics like parenting, Autism and neurodiversity.
Urge family members of people with I/DD to participate in a rally at the statehouse to advance a particular policy, and facilitate their participation by offering transportation, child care, etc.
Ask individuals with success stories to speak at a community outreach event hosted by your agency.
Encourage individuals you support to answer questions and have their photo taken for a story writeup that could be published in your monthly newsletter, on the Included. Supported. Empowered. Facebook page, etc.
of the press**
Write a letter to the editor of your local paper explaining the DSP workforce crisis and articulating the need for additional investments in people who make community inclusion possible.
Submit a fundraising event or other community outreach event to be included in the community calendar section of your local news station’s website.
** For more ideas and information about engaging members of the press, see Tool 7 (Engaging the Media).