Letting Writing

Content Provided by: Helen Rader and Jenifer Simpson

One of the best tools an advocate can use is a strongly worded letter. You don’t need to be an accomplished author to write an effective letter. At the top of the letter you should reference the subject, e.g., “Re: Occupational Therapist Still Not Hired,” or “Re: Second Request For Payment of Physical Therapy Sessions.” In the body of your letter be as objective as possible. State the facts. Then address the steps that you have taken to resolve the issue, e.g. “I spoke with Janice on Thursday, January 4th and she told me that the policy of your office…” Conclude by outlining the actions that you’d like to see as a result of your letter.

To give your letter real muscle, there’s a simple technique called “cc” or “carbon copy.” All e-mail programs have a cc function built in, but you can use it in a physical letter as well. It means that you’re sending a duplicate copy of this letter to another person. At the end of the letter you make note of this cc to let the recipient know that you took this action. It’s often a good idea to cc your letter to the recipient’s boss or the agency head that administers a program. Using two or more cc’s can be useful: you can cc an advocacy organization such as the national UCP office or affiliate, a parent training center, your state legislators or U.S. Senator or Representative.

Don’t worry about whether or not your Congressperson cares or not. They do. This is one “cc” that will do more good in the long run than any other. The people who amend, authorize the funding or change the laws of the land need information from you. If there is no law or regulation, they can make new ones. Your voice is very important. They need you to keep them informed.

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