Visiting Capitol Hill – FAQ
Q: What do the little lobbyists Do on capitol hill?
A. There are three main types of occasions: office visits, rallies, and press events.
Office visits are an opportunity to meet with staffers and sometimes the legislators themselves. We take this opportunity to share our stories, discuss pertinent legislation, and build relationships. By telling legislators our stories we’re able to give them a window into our lives, helping them see why and how they can advocate with us to support all kids with complex medical needs and disabilities. Our goal is to recruit partners from both sides of the aisle to help us protect our children.
Rallies are mostly held outdoors, usually on the steps of the Capitol building or nearby. (Be mindful of the weather and dress accordingly.) There are often a number of legislators present who remark on current issues. Sometimes, leaders of organizations and members of the public, including Little Lobbyists, are
invited to speak. There are cameras around; so make sure you are okay with being photographed before you attend. Rallies may be live streamed via social media, and we encourage you to share Little Lobbyists’ participation on your own social media channels.
At a press conference, a member of Congress gives remarks before a room full of cameras and reporters to help get a message to the public. Frequently, a Little Lobbyist is asked to share prepared remarks and and tell our story. (We do not expect anyone unprepared to speak.) Children are invited; but they must be able to remain quiet and still, or you will need to remove them from the area. These events are typically formal; business attire and manners are required. These events are photographed, video recorded, and live streamed so make sure you are okay with being photographed before you attend. Again, we encourage you to share Little Lobbyists’ participation on your own social media channels. Help us get the word out!
Q: How should I get ready for my visit?
A. Please read and make sure you are comfortable with our guidelines. It’s also helpful to familiarize yourself with current issues and policies impacting our children. Spend some time reviewing recent Little Lobbyists social media to find helpful articles and infographics. It can be hard to know what to say “on the spot,” so take a few minutes to think about your story and what you want people to know about your child and your family.
Q: Should I bring my kid(s) with me?
A. Yes, especially your child with complex medical needs — they’re at the center of our mission and we believe it’s vital for legislators to meet our kids! Older kids often find their visit a great learning experience. For small children, or kids needing a lot of attention, we recommend a 1:1 parent/child ratio. It can be difficult to focus on them and the work at hand at the same time. Please be aware that if a child is unruly (it happens to all of us!) we expect their parent to take them to an area where they can take a break. If your child - or yourself - is sick (even just a cold), please do not bring them.
Q.What should I and/or my child wear?
A. For adults, business attire. Capitol Hill is a place of business, and we are there to do the serious work of advocacy. You will be walking a lot, so comfortable shoes are strongly recommended. Children should also look their best to meet their legislators. They should be comfortable, but neat in appearance. When possible, avoid very casual streetwear (like jeans or sweats).
Q. How will we communicate and stay connected that day?
A. Before your visit we send out an email with all pertinent details. We will also create a Facebook Messenger group chat to stay connected and communicate instantly on the “day of.” Be sure to have your notifications turned on so you will be aware of any changes in plans, where to meet, etc.
Q. how will i get there?
A. Public Transportation: Union Station has Metro, MARC and Amtrak stops, and is a short walk to the Capitol and House and Senate offices. If you are driving, The Hall of States building garage (24 E St NW, Wash., DC 20001) is closest to the Senate side of the Capitol. You can reserve space early with “Parking Panda” at $21.95/day There’s also abundant parking at Union Station for $20/day.
Q. Are the entrances accessible? My child uses medical equipment; will I be able to get through security?
A. Every building has an accessible entrance, but not all entrances are accessible. For more information about accessibility and the location of accessible entrances, click here. At all entrances there are security guards, x-ray, and metal detectors, it’s similar to going through airport security. Please be patient and polite and follow all directions from the guards. You can bring everything that is a medical necessity, just let the security guards know. You will be asked to remove all items from your stroller/wheelchair as you pass through security. Note that all signs are prohibited.
Q. Is there somewhere to eat?
A. Dirksen Senate Office Building has a large, reasonably-priced cafeteria. Union Station has a variety of restaurants and fast dining options as well. There are also many vending machines throughout.
Q. Are there places I can take my child if i need to attend to their medical or personal care needs?
A. There are Health Rooms in all 6 Congressional Office Buildings. The Health Room in the Hart Senate office building is the largest suite best suited to our children’s needs. Please note that you must have all your own supplies and equipment, and that staff must keep a log of who receives treatment, so you’ll need to give them your name and phone number.
Q. Can I take pictures?
A. In some areas (like hallways) photos are fine. But in other areas (Senate dining rooms and offices) they are not permitted. When in doubt, just ask!