Advocacy Toolkit 

Below is a collection of courses and resources from EveryChild California, On the Capitol Doorstep, and other stakeholders invested in advocating for publicly funded early learning and care programs across California.

Understanding the California State Budget Process

Through the following resources, understand how California's Budget Cycle Works. Learn how you can make a difference by sharing your stories with key legislators and the Administration. You are the expert in your field, and they appreciate hearing about how the budget impacts you, your programs, and the families you serve. The first step is understanding how the budget process works and key deadlines.

The State Budget Process Explained

The California Budget and Policy Center, a research and analysis nonprofit advancing public policies that expand opportunities and promote well-being for all Californians, published the following webinar to help understand the process.

The State Budget Visualized 

On the Capitol Doorstep has published the following chart that will help you understand the process. Download the chart here.

A Guide to the State Budget Process

The following report contains valuable information, including terminology to be aware of, how the voting process works, and much more. Download the report here.

Current Budget Proposals 

Current and past California-approved and proposed budgets can be found here.

California's Budget Process - Detailed 

The CA Department of Finance has a site dedicated to explaining the process California uses to enact its budget. You can find that site here.

Citizen's Guide to Participating in the Budget 

Learn how your voice can be heard in the budget process by reading the following publication from the California State Senate.

Understanding the California Legislative Process

Through the following resources, understand how California's Legislative Cycle Works.

The Legislative Process Explained

Initiate Justice, a nonprofit association out of Los Angeles, published the following webinar that describes the legislative process.

The State Legislative Process Visualized 

If you are a visual learner, use the California Legislative Information website's chart to help you understand the legislation process. Along with a chart, it includes an in-depth breakdown of the legislative process going into detail of every step a bill takes before becoming a law or being vetoed.  Download the chart here.

Effective advocacy is all about relationships. 

Elected Officials. Building relationships with your elected officials and continuing to grow those relationships is vital to your success as an advocate.

Staff. Equally important is developing a relationship with legislative staff, at the Capitol and in their local district offices. With term limits, many staff members will be around long after the legislators’ terms expire.

Cultivating Champions. By building your relationships, you cultivate elected champions for our issues and become a trusted source of information for them.

Why Legislators listen to you

You are their constituent. 

You provide good, reliable information. They are not the experts in this area - you are. You are a trusted source, based on your professional background, community status or personal knowledge.

The following guide contains valuable information on how a citizen of California can take part in the legislative process, including: 

      • Establishing a relationship with a legislator's office staff

      • Proposing solutions to problems

      • Know the opposing side of an issue

      • Be willing to negotiate

      • Writing letters to legislators

      • Visiting legislators

      • Committee Hearings 

      • and much more

 Download the guide here.



  • Do not campaign for or against any candidate using your EveryChild California, ECE Voices title. These restrictions apply to candidates running for school boards, city councils, and other nonpartisan offices. 
  • Do not use your EveryChild California, ECE Voices network title to endorse a candidate, even just for identification purposes, in any print, electronic or website candidate literature, or interview or letter to the editor.
  • Do not invite just one candidate to speak. If you invite candidates to speak, invite all other candidates. This avoids the reality or appearance of bias or support for an individual candidate.


Ballot initiatives and legislation

  • Do advocate for or against legislation, ballot initiatives, and bonds.

Please click here for a visual of the rules. 

Making Your Voice Heard in the State California Legislature
Find your elected officials and their contact information by clicking here.

This guide by Rob Bonta covers topics such as how to read a bill and how to effectively communicate with legislators including: 

  • Sample letter guidelines
  • How to prepare for an in-person meeting with a legislator
  • How to testify at a hearing to show support or opposition for a bill
  • How to keep up with legislation
  • How to read an Assembly bill


  • Emailing your elected officials is a quick and easy way to voice your concerns about an issue in your community. 

  • The email address for your State Senator or Assembly member is: or


Call your elected representative’s district or Capitol office and request to speak with the legislator or an aide who works on children’s issues. Be prepared to:

  • State your name and identify your facility or organization.
  • Tell them you are a constituent living in their district.
  • Identify the bill number or the issue, and explain your position on the issue.
  • Ask how the legislator expects to vote. 
  • Ask if the legislator would like any information from you on the bill or issue.
  • Urge the legislator to vote for your position.
  • Thank the legislator or aid for their time on the call.

Write a Letter 

Current and past legislation can be found here. Under Bill Information type in the bill number starting with AB or SB to locate information about the bill, including when it was introduced, amendments, committee location, and hearing dates.

To access the legislation that EveryChild California follows, click here for the most up-to-date Legislative Grid.

Use our News and Alerts page to stay up to date on the current information affecting the ECE field. 

Request to meet with your representative. Don't know who they are? Click here to find out.

How to start:

  • Call or email your elected representative, requesting to meet. For visiting a state representative, log on to your legislator’s website. On their “Contact Me” pages, some legislators specify how they prefer to receive appointment requests. 
  • Constituent. Tell them you are a constituent
  • Reason. Include the reason for your visit, including any specific issue or legislation
  • Date/Time. Suggest specific dates and times. 
  • Contact. Send your request to the attention of the Scheduler or Secretary. 
  • Confirm. Call or email scheduler to confirm the appointment before the date.

Where to meet:

  • At their offices
    • You can request to visit a state legislator at their Sacramento Capitol office or near you, in their district office. 
    • When visiting the district office, ask to meet with the District Director.
  • At your facility
    • Consider inviting the elected representative and their staff to visit your facility. These meetings are especially meaningful because your representatives gets to see what you do first-hand and can see what your needs are. 

Prepare for your meeting:

  • Know your representative
    • Research the representative to know their interests and priorities, so you can tailor your message to the things that are important to them.
    • Study their website and sign up for email newsletters
    • ECE connections. Is the legislator a member of a key committee for ECE issues? Is the legislator a current or past sponsor of EveryChild CA bills?
  • Talking points. Prepare your talking points. Avoid jargon or acronyms. 
  • Group tips. If you are going as a group, decide who will cover which points. Select a lead, someone who will keep the group on point and watch the time. 
  • How many. Decide who will attend the meeting. Bringing more than four or five people can be hard to manage. Try to bring people representing different ECE concerns groups.

During the meeting:

  • Be prompt and patient. Elected officials run on very tight schedules. It’s best to show up 10 to 15 minutes early. Be ready to be patient. It is not uncommon for them to be late or to have your meeting interrupted with other business.
  • Bring to the meeting Bring your business card and information about your program (how many children you serve, what you do, etc.). Give them a hard copy of information on your issues, such as a bill summary, data supporting your ask, letters of support. It's good to use brightly colored paper because they receive so much information from multiple people and groups, it's good to stand out.
  • Delivering your message Make eye contact with the representative and their staff. Be warm and friendly, smiling often. Stay calm and collected. Speak slowly and clearly so the representative can hear you. Don’t rush. It’s good to take pauses.
  • Introductions At the beginning of the meeting, introduce everyone briefly, with name, title and facility. Thank the representative or staffer for meeting with you.
  • Talking about your issue
    • Assume your representative or staff knows nothing about the issue. Discuss things in an easy to understand manner. Avoid using abbreviations or jargon.
    • Cover the most important topics first. 
    • Relate your issue to the legislator’s interests and priorities.
  • Tell a story. Put a human face on the issue, by telling a story or bringing a parent with you.
  • Stay on Track. Your legislator may want to engage in small talk. Politely steer the conversation back to the main issues. 
  • I Don’t Know Saying “I don’t know” if you do not know the answer to a question is much better than providing information that may be wrong. It’s fine to tell your legislator you will get that information for them later. This is extremely important, because you want to be trustworthy.
  • Your Ask. Be very clear what you would like your legislator to do.
  • Questions Allow time for your legislator and staff to ask questions.
  • Close the meeting by thanking your legislator and their staff for their time. Affirm you will get back to them with any promised information. Ask where to send that information.

After the meeting

  • Compare notes. Right after the meeting, compare notes with everyone in your group to agree on what the representative committed to do and the follow up information you agreed to send.
  • Thank you note. Within one to two days of the visit, send a thank you letter or thank you email. State the main issues discussed and your ask. Forward any additional information you promised to supply. 
  • Stay in touch. Try to keep in regular contact with your legislator. Follow them on social media, share news, your upcoming events, and attend their local events.

Good luck and have fun!

There are a multiude of ways to advocate for policy and budget issues. EveryChild California's ECE Voices will help you determine the best method to use for the issues that are important to your regions. The following is a listing of different ways to advocate, for more information ask your ECE Voices Lead Advocate or reach out to EveryChild California at As a Community Advocate you can ask to cover these topics in more depth at the regional meetings. 

We want to thank PVCA, a fund of Tides Foundation, for their support.