A meaningful trip

Each year, a delegation of patient families and employees from Children’s Hospital Boston travels to Washington, DC to participate in Family Advocacy Day.  This event, sponsored by the National Association of Children’s Hospitals, offers an opportunity for our patients and their families to talk directly to their elected officials about the important role that Children’s plays in their own care.

A little Capitol Hill 101:  The U.S. Congress is made up of 535 individuals from all across the country.  100 of these individuals are U.S. Senators – two from each state (2×50=100).  The other 435 are Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and represent districts in their state made up of around 700,000 people.  The number of individuals sent to the U.S. House from each state depends on the state’s population.  The state of California, with its large population, has 53 Members representing districts in the U.S. House of Representatives, while the state of Vermont has only one!  So, each person in the Unites States votes for and is represented by three people in the U.S. Congress: two Senators and one House Member.

While we are in DC, each of the families representing Children’s Hospital Boston will attend meetings in the offices of their three elected officials. In addition to our own delegation, there will be families representing more than 25 other children’s hospitals from around the country on Capitol Hill the same day!  It will be very busy and exciting – and Members of Congress will be hearing a great deal about what is important for children and children’s health care from the real experts: patients and their families.

Before I worked on the government relations team here at Children’s Hospital Boston, I spent six years working on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.  In my job on Capitol Hill, I handled health care policy for a Member of the House of Representatives who represented the state of Rhode Island.  I probably sat through thousands of meetings in my role as a Capitol Hill staffer! The ones I remember the most clearly were with children who came to DC to advocate for themselves and others facing similar issues.  Whether they were there to talk about research on a particular condition or to ask for the Congressman’s support of laws that would allow them access to better health care – we always listened and we always tried our best to respond to their needs.  Seeing children and their families come to DC to advocate for better public policy is re-energizing and it makes a great statement about the democratic process, in which every person has a voice.  So, I know can tell you with certainty that Family Advocacy Day is meaningful – not only for the families who participate, but for the elected officials and staff that they reach.

– Amy DeLong

One Response

  1. this is great information Amy! I miss you guys and trust you are having every success ducking the opposing fields!

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