Levels of Government
Government in the United State is separated into three levels: federal, state and local.
In general, the federal government is tasked with dealing with issues that impact the entire country such as national security and the social security program.
State governments are tasked with dealing with issues that impact the citizens of that state. For example, Louisiana is responsible for providing basic services to its citizens such as state highways.
Local governments (town/city/parish) are responsible for dealing with issues that impact the citizens of that municipality. For example, local school boards manage the schools in your area and each parish has a health unit responsible for providing immunizations.
Branches of Government
Each level of government is divided into three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial.
The Executive Branch is responsible for implementing laws and policies. For example, state law calls for a statewide, comprehensive, coordinated, multidisciplinary interagency system that provides early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. The Department of Health, a department within the executive branch, implements this law by operating the EarlySteps program which provides these early intervention services.
The Legislative Branch is responsible for making laws, allocating funding, and overseeing programs implemented by the Executive Branch. Annually, the General Appropriation Bill (House Bill 1) is filed. Through House Bill 1, the legislature allocates funding for state programs like the New Opportunities Waiver and the Flexible Family Fund. When House Bill 1 is passed by both legislative chambers (House of Representatives and Senate) and signed by the governor, it becomes law. Another example is during the 2013 legislative session, Senate Bill 127 was filed and calls for allowing students with disabilities who are not pursuing a regular diploma to not be administered the American College Test (ACT). The bill passed and is now law.
The Judicial Branch is responsible for interpreting the constitution and laws, and resolving legal conflicts. A recent example is the court case to determine the constitutionality of allowing children to attend private schools with publicly-funded scholarships.
Although, the majority of advocacy takes places with the legislative branch, it is important for you to know you can influence all levels and branches of government through advocacy.