Frame your conversations in the context of the value -- or importance -- of what you do for your community and people. Talk about this value often and with conviction, so that the public and elected officials understand the necessity of quality, person-centered services for Minnesotans with disabilities. Remember: The goal of grassroots advocacy is to put a human face on the issue.
Four things to remember when talking to your legislator:
1. Always begin with: “I am your constituent … ”
2. Be authentic; speak from the heart.
3. Offer to be a resource on disability issues. In addition, please contact ARRM if your legislator has further questions that you aren’t able to address (like policy issues).
4. Thank your legislator for their time.
Messages for CEOs, executive directors, and managers
Talk about how the continuing cost of turnover negatively impacts the resources that can be spent on care.
Explain how maintaining consistent, qualified staff has a positive impact on your business - and the people you serve.
Describe how private providers have seen a growing gap between the salary they are able to pay employees and the salary that state employees receive for doing the same work. It is not only a matter of fairness, but it hinders the ability for private providers to effectively compete.
THE ASK: "Over the past few years, providers have been a part of the solution to resolving state budget problems. However, high turnover rates have made it difficult for providers to maintain the consistent, qualified staff needed to continue to provide high-quality services to people with disabilities in Minnesota. This year, please pass a wage increase for Direct Support Professionals who provide people with disabilities the high standard of care they deserve."
Tell your story. Explain how your current salary has impacted your life.
Talk about the rising costs of health care coverage. Describe additional jobs or work you perform to meet basic needs.
Describe turnover within your agency and how it impacts you. Are you forced to pick up extra tasks to fill in the gaps?
Explain how you see turnover affecting those that you serve on a daily basis.
THE ASK: "The 5% increase last year was a step in the right direction, and it made difference. Even with the 2014 rate increase, the increased healthcare costs and inflation have made it difficult for me to make ends meet. Many caregivers work multiple jobs. Others have left the field to pursue higher-paying jobs. As a result, frequent staff changes negatively affect the people with disabilities they support who depend on consistency. Please pass a 5% rate increase so that caregivers receive fair wages and so that the people they support receive the high level of care they deserve."
Talk about your family member(s) and the life they are able to lead because of the services they receive. (Use ARRM's grassroots tool for families to help you organize and illustrate your key points.)
Discuss the impact of constantly changing staff on the lives of your family member(s).
THE ASK: "High staff turnover has a negative impact on my loved one. Please pass a 5% rate increase to help private providers maintain consistent qualified staff so that the people with disabilities they serve receive the high level of care they deserve."
Talk about the job you hold or the volunteer work you do in the community.
THE ASK: Describe how the agency that serves you and the supports you receive positively impact your life. Explain how staff coming in and going out of your life impacts you. Talk about how services allow you to be more independent or reach your personal goals.