Congressional Visit How-To
Several times a year, the U.S. House and Senate adjourn so that members can make themselves available back home in your state or district. These create a great opportunity to gather some friends and set up an appointment to meet with your lawmakers while they are in the area.
Here is just how you can get that done.
1. Set up the meeting. You may want to gather friends and neighbors to go with you, since having a small crowd is a show of strength. Don’t let your friends’ unavailability stop you, however. A visit by one or two is much better than no visit at all.
Once you’ve identified who’s going with you, call the local office you want to visit. Tell them when you would like to come and see if they have a 15-20 minute time slot available. If they don’t, be as flexible as you can in scheduling a different time.
2. Prepare. Decide what talking points you want to make, and figure out who in your group will do the best job of making those points. Try to keep your talking points to 2-3 items.
You can download our Why We Need the Amendment PDF here: parentalrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Why-We-Need-the-PRA-2023.pdf
3. Show up. Gather your group somewhere other than the lawmaker’s office, so that you can arrive on site as one cohesive group. Arrive a few minutes early (between 3 and 10), and be prepared to wait patiently. Try to dress nicely, and do not let your group be unruly. (Taking children along is a great idea, but you need to make sure they will not be a distraction. Otherwise, it is better to leave them with a sitter.)
4. Make your presentation. You will want to have your points prepared, but also be ready to dialog. A helpful resource is our survey from 2022 showing bi-partisan and overwhelming support for parental rights.
If your lawmaker or his staff have questions, answer those you can. If you don’t know an answer, be honest. Tell them, “I don’t know the answer to that, but I would be happy to find out and get back to you.” We will gladly provide the answers you need, and you will have set up a follow-up opportunity to build rapport with that office.
5. Follow up. When you get home (before you have time to forget), write a thank you note and mail it to the office. Thank your lawmaker for taking time to hear your concerns. You might also mention by name helpful staffers you met along the way. Was the receptionist especially hospitable? Or a staff liaison? You might mention her or him by name. They will hear about that, and you will likely win a friend in that office.
Please keep in mind that encountering an unmoving Congressman or Senator is not failure on your part. You only fail by not making the visit at all. If you need to report that you “got nowhere,” we understand. It is still helpful for us to know where we stand.