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Advocacy Plan
An advocacy plan  will serve as a guide for your action. Using the form below to write down your plan.  It will help ensure that you have considered all important aspects of your plan and have made the decisions necessary to begin your action. 
From The Ashes:
A Brain Injury Survivor's Guide

    There is nothing magical about the plan -- it is simply a problem solving tool -- but a very helpful one since you can use it as a road map to guide you through the rest of the advocacy process. In developing your plan you will describe 
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your starting point, your destination, and what you will do 
 to reach your destination. The plan will also include a tentative schedule giving you an idea of when you can expect to reach your goal.

     Elements of the Plan.  To start your advocacy plan, write out a short statement of the problem. Although this may seem repetitious if you have followed the problem definition recommendations discussed earlier in this chapter, writing a statement of the problem in your plan will help you focus your thinking and it will be a helpful reminder if you get stuck or sidetracked. 

     Next, decide what you would like to achieve as the ideal solution to your problem and write it down. The need for good record keeping takes on greater significance following brain injury. One of the greatest barriers to successful advocacy is being unclear about what you are trying to accomplish. Impairments caused by brain injuries compromise your ability to understand and be understood. If you are unsure of your goal, talk to friends, relatives, professional advocates and service providers to get ideas. Make notes of such discussion for later reference, a tape recorder is also handy during such discussions. 

    Be realistic about the options available to you. Your goals should be well considered and well researched. Such precautions will assure that your goals are reasonable and do-able. Remember, it is impossible to turn back the hands of time, what is done can not be undone. Consequently, your goals, while based on past actions, should be forward looking. 

     Although it is critical to decide on an ideal solution, it is important to realize you may not reach this goal. It may necessary to make some compromises. In other words, you may not get everything you ask for. To prepare yourself for that possibility, try to see the outcome of your efforts as continuum ranging from getting everything you want, various combinations of some of what you want, and including the possibility of getting nothing. 

Decide on some compromise solutions that are acceptable although not ideal. Later, if compromise is reached, you will still achieve an acceptable solution and the other party will probably feel that they have accomplished something by causing you to accept a solution that addresses their needs too. You probably will also be perceived more favorably if you show a willingness to work out a solution with the other party than if you insist on only one outcome. 

     The next step in developing your advocacy plan is to list all of the information you need to reach your desired outcome. Divide this list into two sections -- one labeled "Information I already have" and the other labeled "Information I need to obtain." 

    Review the notes you took and material you collected during the information gathering stage. List laws, rules, regulations, and policies that support your point of view and write down references or citations. In addition, list philosophical, ethical, moral, humanitarian, logical and political reasons for your desired changes. List any facts that need to be established (e.g., that a handicap does exist, that you have been abused or neglected). Add to your list any information that will help show that the change you desire is needed. 

    Try to put yourself in the other party's place and attempt to discover how the changes you want could benefit them, also. Think of as many reasons as you possibly can and then look back at your list, and decide which are most likely to be effective in influencing the other party. Discuss your ideas with friends and family, have them suggest ideas too. Mark the most effective arguments and plan to use these first, but save the others for possible use later. 

     Note all types of information you still need to get and allow opportunities to gather this information when developing your plan. 

     Next, think about the other party. What are their needs, their priorities? What arguments do you expect them to make? Write down these arguments on your plan and then think about what you will say or do in response to these arguments. Write down ideas on how you will respond. 

     Next, write down a step-by-step plan for how you will approach the other party and argue your point of view. This could involve a sequence of telephone calls, a letter and one or more informal meetings, with a follow-up letter summarizing agreements reached. The method you select will depend on your situation. 

     You will want to identify the name, telephone number and mailing address of the person you will be dealing with and perhaps some notes on where he or she fits into your life. Such a list might identify a: family member, loved one or friend; human service agency; medical and legal firm; your employer or school. When the problem involves business, career, or human services agencies: understanding the chain of command will help identify further steps you can take if a solution is not reached. When the problem involves family, friends and loved ones it becomes important to identify influential parties who could be enlisted as allies. 

     As you work out your step-by-step action plan, jot down the date you expect to take each step. These dates will be approximate since you cannot control the action of the other party but the dates will help you retain your sense of purpose and direction. Whenever you request something from the other party such as: a meeting; an appointment; a change in behavior; a status report on your case or your relationship; specify when you would like a response to your request. Two weeks is a reasonable time within which to expect a response to most requests. It is certainly sufficient time to expect an acknowledgment of your request including a commitment to respond by a specified alternate date. 

    Finally, think about what you will do if your plan is not successful. There are almost always further steps you can take to resolve your problem. Such a list might include dealing with others further up the chain of command, and asking for a formal hearing. When such strategies breakdown you might consider asking for outside help. Another option might include mobilizing and terminating the relationship. 

     Working out a detailed advocacy plan is a lot of work but it will help you be more effective and it will increase your confidence. You will develop your own short cuts and time savers as you gain experience. At the beginning, however, we do not recommend trying to proceed without a plan. 

Adapted with permission  from: "Don't Get Mad Get Powerful, A Manual for building Advocacy Skills," MI P&A 

Advocacy Planning Guide
The problem is:
The ideal solution is: 
An alternate acceptable solution is: 
Who has authority to make changes: 
Name: __________________________________ Title: ___________________________
Firm / Agency: _____________________________________________________________ 
Address: ______________________________________ E-mail: _____________________ 
Telephone:  ______________________________________    Fax:
Notes on the chain of command:

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