Human Services

Arc Guide to Advocacy Services

What is advocacy?

  • Actions that speak in favor of, argue for, recommend, support or defend
  • Process to change “what is” into a “what should be”
  • Dialogue to discuss issues/concerns
  • Proposed solution(s) through an inclusive and engaging process

In all advocacy situations, it is important to:

  • Know what is wanted and how it will help
  • Be prepared
    • Be specific about what is wanted
    • Make notes before a meeting to remember what to talk about, what to say, and possible solutions. Notes can also help you stay on track.
  • Know the laws, rules and policies about a specific service or program
  • Document, document, document
    • Save all important papers. It may be beneficial to staple the envelope onto documents so you can determine when they were mailed or note “date received” on the document
    • Keep notes during phone conversations and meetings
    • Use email cautiously. While email can be useful documentation, messages can be misunderstood and can be forwarded to others.
  • At the beginning of the meeting, be sure everyone introduces themselves and states their role
  • Ask questions and listen to the answers. Ask for clarification when necessary and repeat to check for understanding
  • Use “I” statements whenever possible. “You” statements are easily interpreted as blaming
  • Remember everyone involved may believe they are acting in the best interests of the person with a disability. Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
  • Propose solutions to identified problems/issues
    • Focus on strengths, concerns and priorities
    • Identify your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) and WATNA (Worst Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement)
    • If you disagree, clearly state why, what you disagree with, and if possible, propose a solution or alternative

The Arc Minnesota recommends NOT:

  • Feeling obligated to sign and approve documents at the meeting. You need time to process and review the document before signing.
  • Signing blank or partially completed forms
  • In some situations, it will be important for an Arc Minnesota advocate to attend a meeting with you.

The Arc Greater Minnesota advocates:

  • Use a person-centered process and philosophy to coach and empower individuals
  • Maintain a comprehensive understanding of pertinent laws, rules, policies, governing systems and due process rights
  • Help parents and individuals with IDD clearly identify issues and options within a given system. Knowledge gained through this process is utilized to make decisions, create and implement a plan of action
  • Empower parents and individuals with IDD to advocate for themselves
  • Assist parents and individuals with IDD to prepare for and participate in meetings
  • Respect choices made by individuals with IDD, their parents, guardians and family members



For further information or advocacy services, contact The Arc Minnesota at 952-920-0855 or toll-free at 833.450.1494 or visit (Please note: This document is not legal advice, and should not be construed as such. Thus, no information herein should replace the sound advice of an attorney.)

All rights reserved (c) 2019 The Arc Minnesota