Tips for Preparing for Legislative Day

Meet with Your Members of Congress

We need your help to make sure that the Recovery Community Services program is continued. For the last few years, funding for the federal government's Recovery Community Services Program (RCSP) has been dwindling. At the same time, demand for the program continues to grow. There were over 200 applications for the most recent awards to only five grantees.

Over the years, funding has been reduced from $8 million/year to $5.23 million in FY 2010. President Obama's proposed FY 2012 budget calls for a meager $2.25 million in funding that would only allow for the continuation of existing grants. No new awards would be made.

Fortunately, the President's budget proposal is just that – a proposal. In these tight budgetary times, we have a strong case to make to Congress to fund the RCSP program at least at its current level -- $5.23 million.

The US Senate and House of Representatives will be in recess from March 21 - March 27, 2011. Most Members will be back home, where you can schedule meetings with them and their staff

Please see the attached information sheet to use in your advocacy for funding for the RCSP program. It describes the RCSP program; why it's important; and why resources should be made available to support recovery around the country.

We need your immediate help to make a personal contact with your US Senators and Representative to ask them to fund the RCSP program at $5.23 million in FY 2011 and FY 2012.

What You Can Do

Meet with your US Senators and Representative when they are home from March 21-27, 2011. Meeting with a member of Congress and/or their congressional staff is a very effective way to educate them about the Recovery Community Services Program. You can request a meeting at their home office or invite them to visit you over the next few weeks as well. Here are some tips on making your meeting a success.

  1. Request a Meeting
    • Find your Congressional District and contact information for your US Senators and Representative on the Faces & Voices web site by typing in your zip code where it says "Find Your Elected Officials".
    • Send a fax, email or call the scheduler to request a meeting.
    • Include all of the dates and times you would like to meet.
    • Offer to meet with staff if the member of Congress isn't available.
    • Make sure to include a phone number and/or email address where you can be reached.
    • Follow up with a phone call if you haven't heard back from the office. (If they're not available during the March Congressional recess, schedule a meeting with their staff members later on).
  2. Prepare for the Meeting
    • Decide who will attend and in advance, decide what each person's role will be.
    • Select a spokesperson. If everyone will have a role, select one person to move the meeting along in a timely manner.
    • Plan how you want to talk about the RCSP program, peer recovery support services and their importance to each elected official. Make it appealing to their particular interests by knowing their views and priorities before your meeting.
    • Be courteous, factual and honest.
  3. The Meeting
    • Be on time. Members and staff are busy and work on tight schedules. It's not uncommon for someone to be delayed or to have a meeting interrupted. If there are interruptions, be flexible. Sometimes you can continue your meeting with a staff person.
    • Establish a rapport and build a relationship. After introductions and handshakes, talk about things or relationships you might have in common. For instance, maybe you have a mutual friend, or perhaps you both went to the same elementary school. Thank your Senators or Representative for all that he or she does on Capitol Hill to represent your state or district.
    • State your purpose. For example, you might say, "Representative Jones, we're here to talk with you about the Recovery Community Services Program at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. We would like to have your support for funding the program in FY 2011 and FY 2012 at $5.23 million a year.
    • Make the issue real. Personalize why the RCSP program and peer recovery support services are important to his or her constituents. Offer your expertise.
      Paint the little picture, as well as the big picture. After you discuss how the issue has affected you or someone in the recovery community, provide statistics on how it affects people in the district, state, or country.
    • Make a clear request. Tell your member of Congress exactly what you would like him or her to do, and do not leave without learning whether or not you can count on their support. Don't forget to invite them to attend programs and events that you are hosting, including Recovery Month and Rally for Recovery! events in September.
  4. After the Meeting
    • Send a thank you note to everyone you met with and any materials that you promised. Keep in touch and keep them informed.

Thank you!