Building Bipartisan Support for Child Care: A Toolkit
A growing body of research shows that Americans recognize early childhood development as critical to the well-being of the nation. Across the country,
states in all shades of red, blue, and purple are stepping up to develop policies and invest in working families and young children.
When leaders come together across the aisle, they can sign into law welldesigned, meaningful, and sustainable changes that have real impacts on children and their families. To do this, leaders must recognize that although
there is widespread agreement on the importance of high-quality early childhood experiences, there will be different opinions about how to solve pressing issues. Coming to the table ready and willing to discuss these
differences is the key to transformative change.
The goal of this toolkit is to offer a wide array of resources to help you build bipartisan relationships and solutions to ensure all children have an equal opportunity to a quality educational foundation that will prepare them to grow, learn, and succeed. This toolkit and additional resources are available online at https://bipartisanpolicy.org/policy-area/early-childhood/.
Tips for Building a Bipartisan Coalition
Bipartisan partnerships are not built overnight. It takes time to establish trust and find common ground. Lasting bipartisan partnerships are rarely born out of a crisis. Instead, it is critical to build strong, trusting partnerships early to head off a crisis or to be better prepared to deal with one.
Words matter. Know your audience and the messages that might resonate with them. Avoid inflammatory buzzwords and jargon and establish shared definitions at the beginning. Don’t let miscommunications derail the conversation and hinder productivity.
Work with people who want to work together. Be open-minded when recruiting people to collaborate with, but keep in mind that not everyone will mix. Let invitees know who will be participating so they can make an informed decision about joining.
Meet people where they are. Participants will bring a range of knowledge about and experience with child care, but if someone is at the table, that person cares enough to show up. They might offer a new perspective or a point of view you haven’t yet considered.
Provide clear and useful background materials and space to ask questions and learn. Offer partners the opportunity to share relevant materials.
Be inclusive. And mean it. Make sure that people are there to speak and be heard, not just to check a box.
Be open and transparent about your goals. Be respectful and honest when disagreements arise and talk them through. Realize you might not always see eye to eye and might have to meet in the middle to move the conversation forward.
Follow up with next steps to keep momentum. Put them in writing to make sure everyone is on the same page.
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