Advocates Use Results-based Leadership Skills to Improve Policy for Kids

Posted February 4, 2016, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

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The sec­ond class of the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute for State-based Advo­cates (LISA) end­ed this week. The con­tri­bu­tions from 14 lead­ers attend­ing from KIDS COUNT orga­ni­za­tions led to more ear­ly learn­ing and child-care options, free break­fast and lunch for kids and enhanced job prospects for par­ents across 13 states. The insti­tute, launched in 2012, grew out of a part­ner­ship between the Foundation’s KIDS COUNT state-based net­work and its lead­er­ship devel­op­ment staff, with the goal of strength­en­ing out­comes and the bench of results-based advo­cates for chil­dren. The insti­tute equipped the advo­cates to influ­ence pol­i­cy reform deci­sions and advo­ca­cy agen­das by lever­ag­ing data, part­ner­ships, per­son­al pow­er and author­i­ty — build­ing both advo­ca­cy skills and results-based lead­er­ship skills — to help more chil­dren and families. 

At the end of the day, achiev­ing bet­ter and equi­table out­comes for chil­dren will require clos­ing gaps and attend­ing to dis­par­i­ties,” said Ash­ley B. Stew­art, a senior asso­ciate at the Foun­da­tion and one of the design­ers of the pro­gram. I am most proud of the courage of these lead­ers in going back to their orga­ni­za­tions and enlist­ing their boards and exec­u­tive direc­tors to be more dis­ci­plined about results and race equi­ty in their work.”

Here are just a few of the ways that the pol­i­cy and advo­ca­cy efforts of LISA lead­ers made improve­ments for chil­dren and fam­i­lies in their states dur­ing the course of the program:

  • $205 mil­lion in annu­al child sup­port pay­ments were pre­served for 183,000 Ida­ho children.
  • State leg­is­la­tion increased pre-kinder­garten fund­ing by $3 mil­lion for 19,000 Arkansas children.
  • New require­ments improved account­abil­i­ty for devel­op­men­tal screen­ings in California’s health care sys­tems to sup­port healthy devel­op­ment for 1.5 mil­lion infants and toddlers.
  • $3 mil­lion was allo­cat­ed to cre­ate six new pilot pro­grams in Con­necti­cut to give par­ents and chil­dren access to work­force devel­op­ment and education.

Stew­art says LISA lead­ers have learned that their work doesn’t end after a desired pol­i­cy is enact­ed. Get­ting a pol­i­cy win for kids and fam­i­lies is only half the bat­tle,” he says. The oth­er half is ensur­ing that the pol­i­cy is imple­ment­ed with fideli­ty. These folks are attend­ing to both sides.”

Par­tic­i­pant Laila A. Bell, direc­tor of research and data at NC Child in Raleigh, N.C., said the pro­gram has influ­enced the way her orga­ni­za­tion goes about its work. The results-based frame­work helped us learn how to put results at the cen­ter of what we do and helped us see what obsta­cles get in the way so we can elim­i­nate them,” she said. We’ve tak­en the tools I’ve learned here and real­ly applied them in our orga­ni­za­tion, not only inter­nal­ly but with our partners.”

Learn more about the Foundation’s approach to results-based lead­er­ship devel­op­ment 

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