It is important to keep in mind the “chain of command” in any organization you approach in your role of advocate. Always begin at the lowest level and proceed, step-by-step through each layer. You will have less control over the situation as you work your way up the hierarchy. Contact and speak with people who are working with or are in direct contact with your child. It is important to document and keep copies of everything you send and receive. This will provide a paper trail of documents that can ensure you and others that necessary steps have been taken.
If issues cannot be resolved at the local level, proceeding to the next level on the chain of command is appropriate. This may be the manager or individual in charge, the person at the head of the company, the board, or the department, or the director of the area you are addressing. Choosing who to communicate with at the different levels will vary depending on the concern you have and service or company you are dealing with. When in doubt, ask a trusted advisor to help you sort through the appropriate people and levels as you move along.
Remember, the secret to advocacy is persistence.
Once you are in contact with the appropriate individuals who will address your concerns, a plan to resolve the problem will have to be completed. The following is a five-step process you can follow to help solve problems in a collaborative manner:
1. Define the problem.
- Everyone involved must agree upon the seriousness of the problem in order for it to be properly addressed.
2. Identify the causes of the problem.
- Everyone involved should have a consensus on the causes of the problem being addressed. Doing this will help identify strategies and ways to solve the issue.
3. Generate and consider alternative way to solve the problem.
- During this point, one of the greatest barriers is the resistance from team members to change that may be necessary to resolve the problem. Work together with others on the team to explore options to solve the problem.
4. Decide on and implement strategies.
- When on this step, attempt to form decisions by consensus from all members that are involved.
5. Monitor for success.
- Continue to evaluate the strategies that were implemented and any changes that were made.