As discussed above, it is important to incorporate value focus and specific information in the power messages you deliver to stakeholders. Further, the power messages need to be tailored to the priorities and interests of the specific stakeholders. Below is a power message delivered to a legislative committee of the Ohio Legislature. As you will see, it is shaped to the particular political stakeholders, invites their interest and support, and suggests how they can benefit from providing that support. Of course, the elements of the message are woven by implication into the message but are nonetheless present. Furthermore, those elements are factually correct and emphasize the central role of the political stakeholders in achieving the outcomes.
“I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you today about the protection of abused, neglected, and dependent children in Ohio. You will be hearing from several people who will be sharing their insights and experiences with you from their first-hand perspectives. They will bring to you today’s most important message: Ohio’s Childrens Safety Net is working.
As an introduction to the presentations, let me take a few minutes to highlight some things we have done in Lorain County to assure that our children receive the quality care they deserve, the quality care the people of Lorain County expect for their children.
We have adopted a simple standard for all of our work: do the right things right, the first time, on time, every time, one child at a time. With this expectation clearly in mind, we have adopted a similarly simple formula to be sure that we meet our standard. We call it PRIDE.
P = Professionalism: The application of state-of-the-art knowledge and skills in all of our work.
R = Responsibility: Understanding that we are personally responsible for the safety and well being of each of our children.
I = Initiative: Doing what needs done, when it needs done.
D = Directedness: Focusing all activities and resources on increasing safety and permanence for each child.
E = Effectiveness: Doing what needs done, evaluating what has been done, and doing it better the next time.
To meet the “Do the right things right” standard and to assure that PRIDE characterizes everything we do, we have taken several steps to support our philosophy. Let me just mention a few of them.
· We have implemented Ohio’s new risk assessment process.
· We have increased the percentage of agency social services staff with master’s degrees in social work to 70% and have 23 caseworkers in graduate school today, at agency expense.
· We have established partnerships with the courts, public and private child-serving agencies, law enforcement, the schools, county government, churches, the business community, and others who understand that it really does take the whole community to protect our children.
· We have increased the number of foster and adoptive homes available to our children by over 50%, with more foster homes than foster children, unrelated children not being placed in the same foster home, and 24-hour mental health services available for every foster family.
· We have increased the availability of kinship care homes for our children.
· We have reduced caseloads and increased in-home services for our families, while reducing the rate of new reports of abuse and neglect with families who have had past contact with the agency.
· We have decreased the number of children coming into care, the number in long-term foster care, and the number waiting for permanent homes.
As an agency, we can only take a small part of the credit for our success. The Lorain County community has stepped up and accepted responsibility for its children. We have benefited from the Kellogg Families for Kids Initiative in northeastern Ohio. We have had the opportunity to participate in AdoptOhio, ProtectOhio, and the Family Stability program. We have had the advantage of the new child protection, adoption, kinship care, and Children First legislation. We have had national support from the Child Welfare League and the Casey Foundation. We have had the support and expertise of other children services agencies throughout the state. We have had your support when we get it right and the benefit of your criticism when we do not. Our success has most certainly been a team effort and we sincerely value being on your team.
As proud as we in Lorain County are of our successes, the more important news today is that our accomplishments are not unique. They simply reflect business-as-usual throughout Ohio’s child protection network.
Our collective success is certainly linked to the thoughtful support you have given to strengthening the child protection network through your legislative actions. Our future success is similarly linked to your current efforts to improve outcomes for children and families. Ohio’s children are much better off today and will be still better off tomorrow because of your sustained hard work and dedication.
Our success is equally linked to the constructive criticism you appropriately bring to the process. You remind us that we will not be fully successful until every child is safe and has a permanent family. We are here today to share our success with you. While we do that, though, we also promise you and Ohio’s children that we will not call it “A job well-done” until we truly are doing the right things right, the first time, on time, every time, one child at a time. To that end, we join with you in a shared commitment to continuous improvement, a shared commitment to excellence for all of Ohio’s children.”