Nicklaus Children's commitment to being 'where the children are' means providing more than just top-rate medical care to our patients. Nicklaus Children's Hospital actively advocates on behalf of children and pediatric healthcare throughout the region, state and country. We also encourage participation by both our patients and their families in our Teen Council and Family Advisory Council as we work towards making every stay at Nicklaus Children's Hospital as pleasant as possible. Through summer camps, support groups, and fun activities supported by Radio Lollipop, Nicklaus Children's Hospital helps children cope with their condition and their time in the hospital.
Our Role: An Advocate for Children's Health
The mission of the Public Policy and External Affairs Department is to enhance child health advocacy at Nicklaus Children's Hospital. This office collaborates its efforts with our friends and colleagues in the community to reach out to local, state and federal officials in order to educate and create awareness on the need for, and importance of quality healthcare for children.
Our department is also responsible for:
- Serving as a resource on legislative and regulatory issues that affect children's health
- Representing Nicklaus Children's Hospital and staff in organizations that support the health and well-being of children
- Coordinating grassroots advocacy efforts within the hospital community
- Working with other organizations to support the health and well-being of children
Tell Congress To Support Childhood Cancer And Pass The STAR Act
The Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act would advance pediatric cancer research, increase transparency and expertise for pediatric cancer research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), ensure pharmaceutical companies have publicly accessible compassionate use policies, and expand research into the long-term side effects due to childhood cancer and its treatments.
Send a letter to your Congress representative
Nicklaus Children's Hospital, maintains strong working relationships with elected officials representing children throughout South Florida. Our Advocacy Team is actively engaged in keeping our elected representatives informed and aware of issues affecting our children.
United States Senate
- The Honorable Bill Nelson
United States Senate
716 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510
- The Honorable Senator Marco Rubio
United States Senate
840A Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510
To find your elected officials write in your zip code below or, for a complete list of senators in other states, click here.
United States House of Representatives
The Honorable Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
US House of Representatives
2206 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0918
For names and addresses of U.S. Representatives, visit the US House of Representatives website.
- U.S. Capitol Switchboard: You can also contact elected officials by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
- Florida House of Representatives: Michael Bileca
- Florida Senator: Miguel Diaz de la Portilla
- Miami-Dade County Mayor: Carlos Alvarez
- Miami-Dade County Commissioner: Rebeca Sosa
To obtain the name and contact information of your Florida State Legislators click here.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following questions and answers are based on materials provided by the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI).
Who are children's advocates?
Anyone who has ever spoken on behalf of a child. It's that simple.
What is legislative advocacy?
Almost anything done to influence a legislator's position on legislation or public policy. Writing letters, making phone calls, visiting legislators and testifying before committees all come under the heading of legislative advocacy. A lot of advocacy is just a matter of individual, private citizens speaking out by writing, calling and meeting with their legislators and other public officials. It means literally "to plead the cause of another." Legislative advocacy just carries that "pleading" into the legislative or public policy arena and does it on behalf of people we may not know personally. It is a practical way for individuals to translate their concerns about children into policies and laws.
Why is legislative advocacy important to children and Nicklaus Children's Hospital?
Public policy is critical to children's health and the ability of Nicklaus Children's Hospital to serve them. Children have different health care needs than adults, they represent only a small fraction of the health care marketplace, and they are the poorest segment of the population. As a consequence, they don't have the economic clout to command attention sufficiently to ensure all their needs are met. That is why legislation establishing public policies on children's health is so important. Government programs already pay for the health care of more than a quarter of all children and an even larger percentage of children with special health care needs. Government programs also pay for, on average, nearly half of the patient care provided by children's hospitals.
What is grassroots legislative advocacy?
Grassroots legislative advocacy encourages many individuals who share the same concerns to speak up about those concerns when they talk to legislators and elected officials. In the children's hospital community, it means bringing together many people who care about children and children's health and organizing them to communicate with elected officials in an effective and efficient way, such as letter writing, phone calls and personal visits.
Why is grassroots legislative advocacy important for children?
In a 1995 report issued by the State Legislative Leaders Foundation, hundreds of state legislators from across the country were asked about the effectiveness of children's advocates. This study and others show that legislators rarely hear from their constituents about children's issues. We can't afford for issues that impact children to be decided by elected officials who are unfamiliar with children's needs.
Who are grassroots advocates?
Examples of people who have become grassroots advocates for children's hospitals are administrators, doctors and nurses, other health care professionals, trustees, volunteers, parents and hospital donors.
Why should you become a grassroots advocate for children?
In order to build a better future for our children, we need to actively participate in public policy debates and help shape decisions that will influence the future. Grassroots legislative advocacy is the bridge between imagining a better life for children and taking the concrete steps to make it a reality. Your participation as a grassroots children's advocate will ensure that all of our elected officials are hearing regularly from the "folks back home" about what is important for children.
Is it legal for me to be a legislative advocate?
Federal and state governments limit the amount of legislative advocacy in which nonprofit organizations may engage, but there are no such limits on private citizens who act on their own time. In fact, legislative advocacy by a private citizen is a constitutional right of every citizen, protected by our Bill of Rights just like freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The writers of our Constitution recognized that our democratic system works best when individual citizens are fully engaged, advocating their views on public policy to their legislators.
We invite you to visit the following sites for more information about becoming an effective advocate on children's health and safety issues:
Links available in this page are not necessarily endorsed, reviewed, or sponsored by Nicklaus Children's Hospital. By clicking on any of the links, you will be leaving Nicklaus Children's Website.
Advocacy Message Tips
As an advocate for children's health and safety, you will be in contact with elected officials on the local, state and federal level. It is important to be able to communicate effectively with your legislative leaders. Here are some tips for delivering your advocacy message.
Download our Easy Advocacy Toolkit for more information (PDF format)
Tips for Effective Letters, Faxes and Emails
- Write to the legislators who represent your district.
- Fax or email your letter if the time frame for action is short.
- Limit your letter to one or two pages.
- Clearly state your position on a particular issue.
- Give your credentials when appropriate.
- Ask the legislator to take a particular action.
- Request a letter stating the legislator's position on the issue.
- Express your appreciation for past or future support.
- Send a copy of your letter to Public Policy & External AffairsDepartment, Nicklaus Children's Hospital, 3100 SW 62 Avenue, Miami, FL 33155-3009.
Tips for Making Effective Phone Calls
When time is short, a personal phone call may be the most effective method to communicate your views.
- If you don't know the legislator, ask to speak with the assistant who handles health issues.
- If you can't reach a legislative assistant, leave a concise message.
- Once you reach the legislator or assistant, focus on a single issue.
- Have talking points - or your own notes - in front of you when you call to stay focused on the message you want to deliver.
- Mention the local impact of the issue on the legislator's constituents.
- Clearly state the action you wish the legislator to take on the issue.
- Limit your call to no more than three or four minutes.
- Leave your name and telephone number in case a staff member has any further questions.
- Send a thank-you note.
- Keep a record of the conversation. If you spoke to an assistant, write down that person's name, so you can ask for him/her next time.
- Inform the Public Policy & External Affairs Department of your conversation via letter, fax or email.