Engaging State Legislatures

About State Legislatures

State Legislatures are the governing body for the state and control state policy and funding. It is important to align policy, funding and other resources that go through state legislatures to afterschool and expanded learning priorities.

Key Information

Keep tabs on what is going on is other state legislatures, such as:

  • The Positive Youth Development Grant Program Act was passed by the Arkansas legislature in 2011 and signed into law. It builds off of the 2008 recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on Best Practices for After-School and Summer Programs by establishing a structure for a system of state-funded afterschool and summer programs.
  • In Illinois, the After-school Youth Development Program Act, SB 3543, was signed into law in July 2010 and creates a framework for coordinating and strengthening afterschool services in the state.
  • In Rhode Island, the General Assembly passed H5967, which created a Joint Legislative Taskforce on Summer Learning. The taskforce also explored several high-quality summer programs for all grade levels and made recommendations on ways to improve access to summer learning in the state. The taskforce reported its findings and recommendations in a report to the General Assembly in May 2010.

Strategies to Engage State Legislatures

  • Target meetings with legislators during slow legislative times.
  • Always consider what role a legislator can play (with the network or a network event) or if there is a piece of information that legislators and/or legislative staff should know.
  • Be prepared-do "homework" on the legislator before your meeting. Anticipate possible questions.
  • Printed information should be brief, easy to read and to the point. Put the most important information in the first paragraph and tie information to their district as much as possible.
  • Strike a balance between not enough information and them not knowing who you are.
  • Follow-up after meetings/events—including a thank you note.

General Publications

Expanded Learning Opportunities can provide parents with approachable entry points to schools and their child’s education.
This policy brief makes a case for why policymakers should support extend time efforts in schools.
An issue brief educating policymakers about the importance of afterschool programs to working families.

Network Publications

The Vermont Center for Afterschool Excellence compilation from 2009-2012 Lights! Camera! Learning! winning videos.
A policy brief based on research garnered from a public opinion survey of parents throughout Rhode Island to learn of their attitudes about afterschool.
Every child in New York State should have access to opportunities that promote their learning and healthy development in and out of school.


A list of six tips on how to reach out to elected officials.
A toolkit providing resources to organize an afterschool campaign for an election and to ensure that those running for elected office value afterschool programs.