By Douglas Gould
President, Douglas Gould and Company
As state budget deficits and competition for resources mount, child advocacy groups and their funders across the country face immense challenges in mobilizing support to preserve funding for basic services and structures designed to improve the lives of disadvantaged children and youth. But even as they fight the good fight, recent research suggests that many of the messages they use and the litany of data reporting on seemingly intractable problems are hurting rather than helping their efforts.
For example, a message such as “Parents need to test their homes for lead paint” places responsibility solely on parents and makes the role of the community invisible. Our recent research shows this does not inspire support for public, systemic solutions. However, a message of “Because our community lacks adequate structures to detect and rid buildings of lead that can poison children, too many develop learning problems that hold them back” is an approach that builds individual awareness and collective responsibility.