Student Advocacy Day: Practice Roleplay Scenarios
Scenario 1: Non Committal Legislator vs. Advocates "Off Message"
Advocate #1: Good morning Senator Smith. We're here to discuss caseload/workload issues for our members throughout the state. As you know, SLP/A serve children and adults with speech, language, and hearing disorders. We see children in our schools with articulation and language problems as well as voice, fluency, literacy, and hearing problems. Some of our school-based members see as many as 80-100 children per week! We think that this is far too many! In fact,...
Legislator: (interrupts) My grandson had speech therapy as a small boy and is now a fine young lawyer. I think your services are very beneficial.
Advocate #2: We do provide a valuable service. In addition, to our work with children, we are expected to do assessments in a variety of areas ranging from swallowing evaluations to central auditory processing assessments. We are expected to write reports, attend meetings, plan activities, and meet with parents and other educators.
Advocate #3: Senator, I have a personal example of a family that directly benefited from my services that I would like to share with you...(Share personal story.)
Legislator: (Stand up) I'm afraid that I have another meeting to attend, but I want to thank you all for taking the time to meet and share your concerns with me.
Advocates: Thank you for your time, Senator. We hope that you will support our bill to implement a caseload/workload model when it comes before the legislature. We will leave some materials for you with your staff. Thanks again.
(Both parties shake hands and depart.)
What do we need to do differently?
- Stay on message/explain caseload/workload model
- Make a specific request of your representative (sponsorship, vote)
- Eliminate jargon
Scenario 2: Hostile Legislator vs. Advocates "On Message"
Advocate #1: Good morning Senator Smith. Thank you for taking the time to meet with us. We're here representing the _____ of SLP/A who practice in our state, ____% of whom work in the public schools. As you know, speech-language pathologists and audiologists provide treatment to children in our schools who have speech, language, and hearing disorders. We would like to discuss with you our effort to implement a caseload/workload model for public school providers and why that is important to our states' children.
- To comply with IDEA, direct intervention, and other total workload activities required and performed by SLPs must be considered when determining caseload size.
- An average of 52 federal, state, and/or local forms and 10 additional meetings are added to the workload of a school SLP when one student is added to the caseload.
- Caseloads in our schools range from 30–100 with the majority of our members reporting caseloads of 80+!
Hostile Legislator: (interrupts) That doesn't seem that difficult to manage.We all have to juggle many responsibilities doing our jobs.
Advocate #1: I think, Senator Smith, then it is our job to demonstrate for you how manageable caseloads benefit the most important members of our state, it's children, and our future leaders. Manageable caseloads achieve three important goals. First, it allows the SLP to provide appropriate services for children on his/her caseload. It allows audiologists time to plan and monitor classroom amplification programs, for example. Under federal law, an individualized program must be developed for each child receiving services. Providing timely and appropriate services for a child may reduce the amount of therapy that child requires, and ultimately save the school money. Second, it allows us to spend more time collaborating and planning with parents and teachers to help children progress faster. Third, it allows us to spend time in the classroom which helps children achieve academic success and benefits teachers, as well.
Advocate #2: I'd like to share a story with you about a child on my caseload from your district who required an intensive program. With the time I had due to a manageable caseload, I was able to work collaboratively with his teachers, parents, and other service providers to help this child achieve his potential. (Share personal story.)
Senator, this would not have been possible without the time it takes to individualize his program, meet and develop a carryover program with his parents, and the time to work closely with his teachers and provide direct instruction and support in the classroom.
Hostile Legislator: I'm beginning to understand the need, but won't it necessitate hiring more staff and that will be too expensive.
Advocate #3: It is true that in some circumstances more staff might need to be hired, however:
- Providing adequate staff with manageable caseloads will allow children to progress faster and thus allow us to serve more children for shorter periods of time.
- Parents will be more satisfied with our work and we will have time to engage them in their child's education. Most importantly, our children, the states' most valuable resource, will receive the amount and frequency of service that they need to overcome their disability and become responsible, productive adults.
- Reducing caseloads to manageable levels will help us attract and retain more qualified professionals.
Hostile Legislator: Still, reducing caseloads will cost more money and the state is experiencing a budget shortfall this year.
Message 1: Additional funds are available, Senator. Money from IDEA and the use of Medicaid dollars which SLP/A generate, can also be used to support a caseload reduction effort.
Message 2: There is never an ideal time to request additional funding, however the _______(funds) requested is a small price to pay for our children's future.
Hostile Legislator: You have presented a convincing argument. I feel I have a better understanding of the needs of our children and the members of your profession who serve them
Advocate #3: Then Senator Smith, can we count on you to co-sponsor our caseload/workload bill?
Hostile Legislator: You have convinced me. You have my support.
Advocate #1: We will leave a packet of information on our caseload/workload effort with your staff. If you have any questions please feel free to contact any one of us listed on the packet. We would also like to invite you to visit our schools anytime it is convenient and see our programs at work.
Advocates: Thank you again for your time today. We appreciate your support.
(Both parties shake hands and depart.)
How was this message better?
- Stayed on message
- Responded to argument with data (funding sources)
- Remained firm yet positive