When it comes to communication and engagement, every issue has its own unique set of opportunities and obstacles.
Advocates often emphasize the dire nature of problems facing children, and believe that turning up the dial in communicating the urgency of the issue will move people to action. Solutions, if they appear at all, are relegated to the end of the story. But this approach often backfires. People become overwhelmed and feel powerless to act. Or, when it comes to children and youth, they default to a view in which parents are ultimately responsible, and systemic solutions are off the radar screen.
The research finds that solutions-oriented stories, when done right, lift public desire for collective action, and increase support for an active government role in a range of children’s policies, including those targeted to at-risk children. Effective Solutions Storytelling must include several elements, including a clear illustration of how children’s outcomes are connected to community outcomes, and a concrete sense of how/why a given intervention succeeds.
For over a decade, the Topos founders have been extremely active in the intersection between public policy and the development of infants, children and youth. Clients have included the Frameworks Institute, Kids Count, Stop Child Abuse Now, The Scientific Council for the Developing Child, the Child Advocacy 360 Foundation, the Community Service Society of New York, Voices for Alabama’s Children and others.