Teaching-Family advocacy & marketing toolkit


EDUCATE

+ Presentations

Using a Program Model for High Level Administrative Performance

The Teaching-Family Association’s proposal, “Using a Program Model for High Level Administrative Performance,” was approved by the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators to present at NAPCWA’s annual meeting on June 5-7, 2015 in Washington, DC. The meeting focused on the complexities of managing for results and sustaining systems reforms, giving TFA an excellent opportunity to describe the Model’s excellence in these areas to this influential group.

This presentation is geared towards the audience – reimbursement authorities – and discusses the Model from their point of view – understanding how the Teaching-Family Model can ensure the structures and support of continuous quality improvement systems and trauma-informed care.

The presentation’s argument creates two “problems” – how do you create the flexibility and quality assurance structures necessary to be a trauma-informed organization, and how do you overcome resistance or foster a professional culture geared towards assessment and continuous quality improvement? With the Teaching-Family Model, of course!

Flexible, Replicable Systems for Quality Care

This presentation, developed with Tennessee Family Solutions, is the latest update of the basic Teaching-Family Model presentation. It explains all of the Model’s elements, systems and goals. While TFS is mentioned in a number of places, many pieces of this presentation stand alone, and the entire presentation can be adapted and repurposed for your goals.

Evidence Supporting the Teaching-Family Model

This 2013 presentation is the latest that details specific Model-related research and studies. The presentation summarizes the results of 6 outcomes-related studies from 1982-2005 at length. It is a good reference point for the Teaching-Family Model’s evidence base, but it should be adapted and edited for live presentation to an audience.

+ Illustrative Infographics, Graphics, & Videos

Juvenile Justice Cost-Benefit Analysis This infographic is a simple math summary of WSIPP cost-benefit analysis of Teaching-Family Model group homes in the context of Juvenile Justice. We also prepared a blog detailing the cost-benefit analysis and related evidence for the Model.

Download the graphic to use in your own context, or share the blog post.

Smarter Parenting Videos Smarter Parenting, an online initiative from Utah Youth Village, explains the origins of the Teaching-Family Model in this video. The video content they are creating on their website, WWW.SMARTERPARENTING.COM, are illustrative and instructive of the Model’s elements & teaching interactions.

Boys Town Online Quality Care Initiative An online initiative from Boys Town details how Teaching-Family Model agencies offer high quality residential care with infographics, reports, video testimonials, and more.

See Quality Care and Quality Care - Teaching Family Model on the Boys Town website.

+ Take Action

Collaborating

The most important thing you can do to make sure your voice is heard is to collaborate, and the Teaching-Family Association is an excellent resource for you to do exactly that.

The Teaching-Family Association is a collective organization and as such, relies on members communicating their findings and experiences with each other in order to promote the Model and for all to improve. We are all fighting for the same thing – a Model we believe in – and if we come together, we can achieve much more than we can individually.

This is especially true for any legislative or lobbying effort. In order for congressmen to know how big the community of people advocating any issue is, those people must come together in a united front. Getting others in the field, employees, and different associations to all lobby for one issue increases the chances of being taken seriously.

There is a huge difference between one person trying to influence legislation and a large collaboration taking action. Each person or association represents votes for the congressman or senator, so if many stand behind one issue, they will take a better look at it. The more personal and heartfelt stories, the better.

Additionally, with collaboration comes a more well-rounded view of the issue. If a large variety of people share the same concern, they can talk about their motivation, leading to a wider understanding of the issue for everyone involved. This also allows the entire group to better anticipate responses and provide support.

Make sure you reach out to others who share your concerns, as this is the best way to get your point across. Reaching out to other Teaching-Family Association leaders is one way to do this. At a local level, you should reach out to other interested parties and cultivate relationships.

There truly is strength in numbers!

Engaging Senators & Legislators

John Dougherty of Virginia Home for Boys & Girls is a passionate & active advocate for his agency, who exhausts all avenues (and politicians!) to be heard. John helped us put together this practical advice for communicating with legislators and political influencers – especially Senators. Thank you, John!

Find a relationship through their staff.

Senators and legislators are very busy people, so try to get in touch with their office and work your way up to the Senator or legislator him/herself. Often, legislators’ offices will have a designated outward-facing constituent engagement person placed in jurisdiction. You should start by getting in touch with them, or a Chief of Staff, or even a local staff person.

Don’t be ignored.

Keep pressing the issue and contacting the office until you get what you’re after. Go through all the methods you can: mail, email, phone calls, social media, etc.

For Senators who are particularly hard to reach, look at who is funding them.

Any connections you can make to those supporting the Senator fiscally will make you more of a priority. You can also go through personal connections if you know anyone who knows the Senator.

Make it clear that your issue impacts their constituency.

Senators are more likely to take an interest if you can show them that your issue directly affects their lives as well as those who they represent. (This is a key part of how to draft a letter to a representative.)

Make it clear you are discussing a child welfare issue.

Most Senators have policy specialists who will be particularly interested in what you have to say if it can complement their legislation.

Do your homework.

Reference specific legislation as much as you can and make it clear that you are passionate enough about the issue to have done extensive research.

DISSEMINATE

+ Getting in The Local Media

Decision makers at all levels read local press to stay in touch with voters’ interests. Local media can be a great tool for advocacy, as well as marketing, so you need to know how to develop relationships with local media professionals.

At a local level, appearing regularly in the media expands the profile, clout, and influence of your organization for both marketing and advocacy purposes. At an Association level – a rising tide of media coverage lifts all agencies!

Teaching-Family Model agencies produce amazing stories every day, and those newsworthy or human interest stories are particularly valuable to the press. Also, remember, you are an expert in your field – and your expert opinion is valuable as well.

Getting Started & Building Relationships

Who is likely to cover stories about your organization? Who has covered stories on your organization in the past? What kinds of media outlets cover the kinds of news stories that come out of your agency?

Even if you already have relationships with journalists who have covered you in the past, consider casting a wider net to build relationships with different kinds of media outlets.

  • Identify all possible outlets for your stories.
    • No outlet is too small! Free publications, for example, can be more widely read than national papers. Maybe you have a relationship with a radio news producer, but what about a local podcaster?
    • Get to know which local media are likely to cover you by keeping up with the different outlets and the kinds of stories they produce.
  • Build relationships with journalists and producers.
    • Learn the names of reporters who cover similar stories to yours and get to know them.
    • Great human interest or newsworthy stories are valuable to journalists, so you can approach them with something to offer!
    • Remember deadlines for local press and contact news outlets in advance. Contacts in the local media will appreciate you being sensitive to their busy schedules.
    • Be available. Those busy schedules and media deadlines mean you need to be available for comment.
    • Follow-up and thank your reporter for the coverage. It’s simple positive feedback, and you want to keep all these relationships for the future!

What kinds of stories can you offer, and what makes a story newsworthy?

A news story answers the “so what” question and is important to people outside your organization. A human interest feature is a personal story to which readers can relate. Your agency likely has both types of stories to offer on a regular basis – and ideally, one story could be covered from both angles!

  • Make sure your story has a narrative, not just numbers and facts. Readers need to be engaged and feel genuinely interested in your story – there has to be a human element!
  • Keep in mind that the media environment is constantly changing. Your content may be best suited for a different type of exposure than you had in mind. Work with a variety of local media outlets to get your point across in the best way!

Newsworthy Examples from TFA Agencies

Human Interest

When Virginia Home for Boys and Girls recruited a new Teaching Parent couple from out-of-state, they were featured on the local CBS news segment, “Heroes Among Us.” Particularly interesting & appealing points, here? The Kuipers were recruited from far away – it’s in the headline, and it’s an appealing one: “Why this couple moved to Richmond to care for 7 boys they don’t know” – AND they planned to raise their own child in the home.

In the segment, Virginia Home for Boys and Girls was also profiled, not just the couple – because, well, why would a couple move all that way to your local agency? There must be something special about the organization, too! News

Certain facts & figures DO hit headlines, like how much money your fundraiser raised. Local fundraising events have plenty of local appeal, and even your attendees like to hear how much money they helped to raise in the news the next day! Here’s an example of coverage you can plan for well in advance!

News

Certain facts & figures DO hit headlines, like how much money your fundraiser raised. Local fundraising events have plenty of local appeal, and even your attendees like to hear how much money they helped to raise in the news the next day! Here’s an example of coverage you can plan for well in advance!

Press Releases

Hope Center for Children was featured in the news after TFA’s 2014 Annual Conference due to Sandy Norris being recognized as a TFA Distinguished Practitioner.

Association-level news related to your agency can be newsworthy in the local media. Awards and accreditation from the international Teaching-Family Association, for example, both carry weight – your agency and your personnel are being recognized as some of the best in the world! And when it’s news out of TFA – we can help you put together a press release for distribution.


Beyond news stories, there are a other ways to be included in local media and expand your agency’s profile. Event listings, for example, that are used to announce upcoming events of interest to the public should include your agency’s events!

You should also consider writing a letter to the editor responding to related news, or a commentary piece.


Expert Opinion

Remember, you are an expert in your field! That means, you and your staff could also be interviewed for stories not directly related to your agency. Writing a local commentary piece and building relationships with local media could result in you being called on regularly for comment on related issues, which builds your agency’s profile.

Several employees at Kenosha Human Development Services, for example, were interviewed last year in a story related to a rising tide of heroin overdoses.

+ Social Sharing

We’ve heard from several agencies that their investments in social media just haven’t paid off, but you don’t need a full-time social media strategy to leverage the organic reach of social media for advocacy, especially if you are pursuing traditional media and leveraging other sources of content.

We have reason to believe that (1) building on traditional media, social media can improve the reach of your advocacy efforts without a large time commitment, and (2) advocacy efforts perform particularly well on social media compared to brand-building or fund-raising efforts.

If you haven’t already you should read our tips for getting in the local media. These ideas will build on what we’ve already outlined there.


The Buzzword: “Social Advocacy”

Social media has tremendous potential as a platform for advocacy, and while your agency’s advocacy strategy might not result in the next big trending hashtag on Twitter or become the next “Ice Bucket Challenge,” we’ll bet that advocacy related posts and content will go further in terms of “reach,” (more people will see it,) than calls for volunteers or donations, or regular brand-building content.

You already have passionate supporters – your employees and your volunteers, for example – who wouldn’t do what they do if they didn’t care about your cause. That means they’re likely passionate enough to follow you on social media and share compelling stories and meaningful advocacy there.

Compelling Stories

If you are trying to harness passion for your cause on social media, you don’t necessarily need a constant social media presence, you just need content that your supporters will want to share, and to time that content meaningfully.

If you have the resources to create your own content, social media experts say you need to think like a journalist – that means making it newsworthy, locally appealing, or taking a new, appealing angle on a story. Making a difference in someone’s life is always appealing, but what’s different about this particular case? What’s particularly new and appealing about this story?

If you don’t have the time or money to invest in content creation, you can leverage traditional media by getting in the local media and sharing those stories. You’re providing value to the local media, as they have less and less resources to source content, and you get value from a third party source creating credible, compelling content about your efforts.

Benefits of Integrating Traditional Media & Social Media

We know traditional media works to reach people and generate interest, and starting your social strategy in traditional media makes it both less of an investment and more justifiable, as social media simply augments your overall PR or advocacy strategy.

But there’s also a reason you want to be on social media – again, that doesn’t mean you need a constant and expensive social media presence, but you’ll want to be active around when traditional media is released, and that can be planned.

Why? Traditional media informs and drives social media – people see or hear traditional media, and they go online to find out more, or to discuss what they heard. You can get out ahead of this with shareable content – and the people finding it are already primed to engage and share.

In addition, bloggers are often informed by traditional media, and you can keep up with and share their responses or pieces related to your story.

Meaningful Advocacy

Making social media content in to “meaningful advocacy” could be as simple as adding an advocacy-related call to action, like “Show your support by sharing this!” Often, adding a simple call to action like “Share this story” expands the reach of posts.

changeorgBut you can also take an advocacy effort directly to social media, or augment it, using an online petition.

Local, state, and federal legislators take note of sentiment on social media as a way of judging support for legislation or the concerns of their constituents. And signatures, even digital ones, are still meaningful.

Petitions are also highly likely to be shared and generate more “social advocates” for your cause or effort.

More Shareable Content

The Teaching-Family Association will strive to make it easier and less expensive for you to take advantage of social media by creating content here on teaching-family.org to support your PR and advocacy efforts, such as the resources in the EDUCATE section of this toolkit, or regular updates on our blog

+ Draft and Sample Letters to Representatives

The Outline

SUBJECT: [Particular Piece of Legislation or Legislative Issue]

Dear Senator or Representative [Last Name],

  • Explain the who or what.
  • Explain why your voice matters.
  • Create context for your position or explain the background of the issue.
  • Articulate support for the congressman or senator’s position. Link with your work and why your support is important.
  • YOUR ISSUE (the heart of the letter).
  • Action & Solution.
  • Reinforce solution & why it will work.
  • Thank you, and support.

Ideally, you can accomplish this in one page with short paragraphs. The letter should not be more than two pages.


This page will be updated with draft letters for the latest issues pertinent to the Teaching-Family Association. The letters can provide examples for other legislative issues, or act as drafts to be filled in and sent as is.

Download Here

TAKE ACTION

+ Collaborating

The most important thing you can do to make sure your voice is heard is to collaborate, and the Teaching-Family Association is an excellent resource for you to do exactly that.

The Teaching-Family Association is a collective organization and as such, relies on members communicating their findings and experiences with each other in order to promote the Model and for all to improve. We are all fighting for the same thing – a Model we believe in – and if we come together, we can achieve much more than we can individually.

This is especially true for any legislative or lobbying effort. In order for congressmen to know how big the community of people advocating any issue is, those people must come together in a united front. Getting others in the field, employees, and different associations to all lobby for one issue increases the chances of being taken seriously.

There is a huge difference between one person trying to influence legislation and a large collaboration taking action. Each person or association represents votes for the congressman or senator, so if many stand behind one issue, they will take a better look at it. The more personal and heartfelt stories, the better.

Additionally, with collaboration comes a more well-rounded view of the issue. If a large variety of people share the same concern, they can talk about their motivation, leading to a wider understanding of the issue for everyone involved. This also allows the entire group to better anticipate responses and provide support.

Make sure you reach out to others who share your concerns, as this is the best way to get your point across. Reaching out to other Teaching-Family Association leaders is one way to do this. At a local level, you should reach out to other interested parties and cultivate relationships.

There truly is strength in numbers!

+ Engaging Senators & Legislators

John Dougherty of Virginia Home for Boys & Girls is a passionate & active advocate for his agency, who exhausts all avenues (and politicians!) to be heard. John helped us put together this practical advice for communicating with legislators and political influencers – especially Senators. Thank you, John!

Find a relationship through their staff.

Senators and legislators are very busy people, so try to get in touch with their office and work your way up to the Senator or legislator him/herself. Often, legislators’ offices will have a designated outward-facing constituent engagement person placed in jurisdiction. You should start by getting in touch with them, or a Chief of Staff, or even a local staff person.

Don’t be ignored.

Keep pressing the issue and contacting the office until you get what you’re after. Go through all the methods you can: mail, email, phone calls, social media, etc.

For Senators who are particularly hard to reach, look at who is funding them.

Any connections you can make to those supporting the Senator fiscally will make you more of a priority. You can also go through personal connections if you know anyone who knows the Senator.

Make it clear that your issue impacts their constituency.

Senators are more likely to take an interest if you can show them that your issue directly affects their lives as well as those who they represent.

Make it clear you are discussing a child welfare issue.

Most Senators have policy specialists who will be particularly interested in what you have to say if it can complement their legislation.

Do your homework.

Reference specific legislation as much as you can and make it clear that you are passionate enough about the issue to have done extensive research.

+ Organizing Site Visits

Once you’ve built relationships with the local media or your political representatives, the greatest “weapon” in your advocacy toolkit is the site visit.

On our advocacy task force, it has been the clarion call of Vice President of National Advocacy and Public Policy at Boys Town, Jerry Davis, that Teaching-Family Association agencies should bring political influencers to their sites.

Why? Especially with group care, negative pre-conceptions are widespread and difficult to overcome with the simple rhetoric that Teaching-Family Model care is family-style.

Specific details about the living situation – often Teaching Parents live with their clients, or the groups are generally no more than six children – can go a long way to pique someone’s interest, but time and time again we’ve learned it’s something outsiders have to see to believe.

More generally, outsiders often don’t understand the power of positive reinforcement and the Model’s teaching interactions. You’ve got to see it to believe it!

Site visits can do more than get your point across – they can create powerful advocates for your agency. Eric Bjorklund of Utah Youth Village was able to develop relationships with policy leaders under Orrin Hatch (Utah Senator) by simply bringing some of his Utah staff to see the site. After seeing it, those staff members pushed the issue up the ladder.

And while high profile politicians are often too busy for site visits, it’s important to remember that these kinds of field trips could be mutually beneficial to your agency and their own campaign or media goals. If you’ve already developed relationships with local media and built up your agency’s profile among the politician’s constituency, you have value to offer.