How do I advocate

January 2017

To:  Individuals, families, guardians and other DDS Stakeholders

From:  DDS Legislative Affairs

Re:  Advocacy – What is it?

Advocacy is a way for individuals eligible for or receiving funding or services from the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), their families and guardians, and other DDS stakeholders to have a voice in the agency’s budget, programs, supports and services. Your voice is an important tool in determining the direction state government and the agency may take on various issues.

How can your voice be heard? There are a number of ways for individuals and families to advocate. The first is by offering “citizen input” at any of the following regularly scheduled meetings: DDS’s Regional Advisory Councils; the Council on Developmental Services; the Camp Harkness Advisory Committee; the Southbury Training School Board of Trustees and Home and School Association as well as many other boards associated with DDS qualified providers. ; For additional information, including meeting dates and times, visit the DDS website at; www.ct.gov/dds.

Another way to advocate is through the state's General Assembly starting by contacting your state representative or state senator. You can identify who your elected officials are by visiting the website https://votesmart.org/ and entering your zip code at the top of the webpage (a nine-digit zip code works best). The blue pages of your telephone directory also list state legislators.

A useful resource for learning about state government and how it operates is the General Assembly's website; www.cga.ct.gov.  You can learn how a bill becomes a law in Connecticut, track legislation, contact a legislator, determine a legislator’s committee assignments and find details about public hearings and committee meetings.

Finally, remember the most persuasive and effective advocate is one who conveys his or her message in an honest, accurate and prepared way. Who better than you, a family member or guardian of an individual with intellectual disability to advocate? The DDS Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner and Regional Directors and your state legislators appreciate hearing directly from you regarding those state programs that are working well and those that you feel may need to be changed.