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New SPP Course Builds a Pipeline of Emerging Child Advocates

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Mall in spring

At a time when one in four children is affected by hunger, and with nearly half of SNAP funds going to children, kids across the country face a number of challenges. A new course at SPP is preparing students to make a difference in the lives of children as policymakers. 

“Our schools continue to struggle,” says Brandi Slaughter, associate clinical professor and program director of The Karabelle Pizzigati Fellows Initiative in Advocacy for Children, Youth and Families. “The quality of a child’s education often depends on the ZIP code they reside in.”

From the safety of their neighborhoods to their overall well-being, administrators, policymakers and funding entities make decisions that impact the quality of lives of children. These challenges require skilled advocates. 

“Yet kids don’t have high-priced lobbyists, like AARP or the NRA,” Slaughter explains. “They don’t have SuperPACs.”

The Children and Family Policy Impact class exposes students to the policies that impact children and their families and equips them with the skills they will need to advocate for kids and make meaningful policy change. 

“Our children deserve nothing less than advocates who are effective in working on their behalf,” Slaughter says.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Understand public policies impacting children, youth, and families;
  • Compose persuasive messages to communicate and advance policy positions to varied audiences through different mechanisms;
  • Demonstrate the ability to use different data resources to analyze policy and their impact on children and their families; and
  • Evaluate the stakeholders necessary to advance a policy position and develop tactics to mobilize stakeholders to advocate for a policy position.

A third of the class content will open students to the challenges that impact children and families and how policy choices and funding decisions impact children’s ability to thrive. The rest of the class will focus on developing core competencies: policy development and advocacy, strategic communications, equity, diversity and inclusion, and data analysis.

The course is held in partnership with The Annie E. Casey Foundation, which has worked with a network of state-based children’s advocacy groups over the years to enhance their capacity for advancing policy that ensures that all children, regardless of race, class, and country of origin, have economic security, supportive communities, and stable families. Due to the generosity of the foundation and its commitment to building a cadre of advocates for children, students will have access to Annie E. Casey’s Advocacy Learning Lab, an online resource to help support individuals and organizations that advance the needs of children, youth and families in the public policy arena. 

Deborah Stein, network director for the Partnership for America’s Children, which manages the Advocacy Learning Lab, said “We are delighted to have the Child And Family Policy Impact students use the Advocacy Learning Lab. Children need expert child advocates fighting for them at the federal, state, and local level. The resources in the Lab should help students learn both about the policies affecting children and how to build and implement advocacy campaigns to improve them.”

Students will demonstrate content mastery by focusing on one issue impacting children throughout the semester and crafting an advocacy plan which will include policy analysis, stakeholder analysis, communications planning, and the use of data.  

“Through this exposure, it is our hope that students will become passionate about advocacy for children, and they will have the skills necessary to make immediate contributions to the profession,” Slaughter said.

Learn more about The Karabelle Pizzigati Initiative in Advocacy for Children, Y…

For Media Inquiries:
Megan Campbell
Senior Director of Strategic Communications
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