Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship in Early Childhood FAQ

General Questions about the Post-doctoral State Fellowship Program

Q: Who should apply for an SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship?
Q: What makes for a strong post-doctoral candidate for the SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship?
Q: Is this fellowship program designed for early-career fellows?
Q: What is the duration of the SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship?
Q: Where are the fellowships located?
Q: What will the focus of the fellowship placements be?
Q: Who funds the SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship?
Q: How is the salary of a fellow decided?
Q: Is there an allocation to pay for a move?
Q: What is the relationship between the SRCD State Policy Fellowship Program and the longstanding SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship Program?
Q: Can a post-doctoral candidate apply for both the SRCD Federal and State Policy Fellowship Programs?
Q: Can a current or former SRCD Federal Policy Fellow be a candidate for the SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship?
Q: Does this program involve learning advocacy?
Q: Is there any flexibility with the dates of the fellowship?
Q: Will it be possible for SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellows to continue work on research projects during the fellowship year?
Q: Will there be any reporting requirements to SRCD?
Q: What kinds of support will the SRCD office provide?
Q: What should applicants do if they have further questions?

Application Requirements

Q: What is the deadline for letters of intent for the SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowships?
Q: Can the application involve a post-doctoral scholar who is not a U.S. citizen?
Q: Must a candidate for the SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship be an SRCD member?
Q: Can the person interested in serving as the academic mentor for an SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellow be someone other than the post-doctoral candidate’s academic advisor within the post-doctoral program?
Q: What kind of support will the academic mentor be expected to provide to the fellow?
Q: What role is the state placement supervisor expected to play in the fellowship?
Q: What level of degree is needed for those applying to be fellows in the SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship?
Q: Can applications involve a post-doctoral scholar who will complete the doctorate after the application deadline but before the fellowship year starts?
Q: Can I reapply for an SRCD State Policy Fellowship?

The Application Process

Q: What does a complete letter of intent need to include?
Q: How should the letter of intent be submitted?
Q: What will a complete online application include?
Q: When will the faculty member/senior researcher and candidate for the fellowship be notified as to whether they are invited to submit a full application?
Q: Will there be an interview?


General Questions about the Post-doctoral State Fellowship Program

Q: Who should apply for an SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship?

Letters of intent are invited jointly from (1) a post-doctoral scholar whose background is in early childhood research, and (2) a faculty member or researcher from a research organization who is interested in serving as the academic mentor for a fellow. Post-doctoral candidates with expertise in the research on family engagement, early math skills, and/or the development of dual language learners in early childhood will be prioritized, but placement activities may focus on early childhood policy more broadly. Post-doctoral candidates must have received a doctorate-level degree (e.g., Ph.D., Ed.D., M.D.) by August 31st, 2019 (i.e., prior to starting the fellowship) and no more than two years before the start of the fellowship. Those interested in serving as academic mentors will be asked to indicate how their research interests align with the goals of the fellowship; how they propose to provide guidance for the fellow during the fellowship; how they are currently working—or would be interested in working—with a U.S. state executive branch agency focusing on early childhood policies; and the types of work potentially available for a fellow with a placement in the agency.

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Q: What makes for a strong post-doctoral candidate for the SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship?

SRCD fellows serve as ambassadors for developmental science. Therefore, scholarship involving research in the areas noted above is the most important qualification for the fellowship. Additionally, the fellow's interests, career goals, and interpersonal and communication skills are important considerations.

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Q: Is this fellowship program designed for early-career fellows?

Yes. Candidates for the SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship must have received their doctorates no more than two years prior to the start of the fellowship. However, mid-career and distinguished scholars are welcome to apply for the ongoing SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship Program.

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Q: What is the duration of the SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship?

The SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship is a 12-month immersion experience beginning on September 1st and ending on August 31st. Post-doctoral fellows must sign an agreement acknowledging this year-long commitment.

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Q: Where are the fellowships located?

The SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship involves a full-time placement in a U.S. state executive branch agency focusing on early childhood. Placements can be in any state. Funding to relocate is not provided through this program.

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Q: What will the focus of the fellowship placements be?

Placements must be in state executive branch agencies that focus on early childhood policies and programs. The fellows will shape the particular projects they work on during the placement along with those overseeing their work at the placement. Academic mentors should serve as a resource to the fellow during the year as well.

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Q: Who funds the SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship?

The SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship is funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation.

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Q: How is the salary of a fellow decided?

Stipends for fellows will be parallel to the federal government pay-scale, taking into consideration previous experience and salary. Stipend (and benefit) levels reflect the fact that the fellowship offers substantial educational value over employment, so may or may not be competitive with those for employment. Please note that fellows may not negotiate stipends and benefits directly with agencies or placements. Fellows will receive a stipend aligned with the federal GS Grade 12, Step 1 level. We will update the stipend level according to the most recent government information on GS levels. In 2018 this was $81,548. SRCD will provide fellows with an allowance to purchase health insurance if needed. Fellows will also receive $2,800 for professional development expenses such as travel to research meetings. Please note that academic mentors will receive an honorarium of $5,000 for the year in recognition of the guidance they provide to the fellow.

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Q: Is there an allocation to pay for a move?

SRCD is assuming that fellows will be in state executive branch offices near their home universities. No moving allowance is included.

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Q: What is the relationship between the SRCD State Policy Fellowship Program and the longstanding SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship Program?

SRCD is continuing its strong commitment to the SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship Program. SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellows will have multiple opportunities to meet with the SRCD Federal Policy Fellows who have placements in federal executive branch agencies or in Congress.

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Q: Can a post-doctoral candidate apply for both the SRCD Federal and State Policy Fellowship Programs?

Yes. However, applicants should provide a strong statement of interest specific to each program and follow the specific guidelines for each fellowship application process.

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Q: Can a current or former SRCD Federal Policy Fellow be a candidate for the SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship?

Yes, as long as he or she fulfills all of the requirements and the timelines align.

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Q: Does this program involve learning advocacy?

No. The intent of this program is to learn how to bridge research and policy. It involves learning at the placement about the research questions the state agency needs addressed and attempting to address them through empirical research. It also involves learning how best to communicate research to state policymakers. If learning and participating in advocacy is a major goal, this program is not a good fit.

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Q: Is there any flexibility with the dates of the fellowship?

No. A commitment to participating for the full 12-months (beginning in early September 2019 and ending in late August 2020) is critical.

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Q: Will it be possible for SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellows to continue work on research projects during the fellowship year?

Similar to programs like the Fulbright Scholars Program, the SRCD State Policy Fellowships are immersion experiences, and fellows are unlikely to have time during the workday for their own projects. Fellows sometimes find they are able to work on their own writing projects in the evenings and on weekends. Fellows need to adhere to ethics rules in the state executive branch agency. Fellows must request permission from their host office or agency to continue active work on grants, contracts, or consulting so as to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest or an actual conflict of interest. SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellows must receive approval to work on non-federal as well as federal research collaborations or appointments during the fellowship.

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Q: Will there be any reporting requirements to SRCD?

SRCD State Policy Fellows will have monthly calls with SRCD staff and complete brief daily or weekly logs. Towards the end of the fellowship year, fellows will also be required to create a final portfolio illustrating the work to which they have contributed at their placements. Placement supervisors will be asked to review the materials prepared for the final portfolio before they are shared with SRCD to assure that nothing that is considered confidential by the agency is included. Fellows will be asked to participate in a Capstone Meeting focusing on their portfolios.

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Q: What kinds of support will the SRCD office provide?

SRCD will set-up an individualized state-specific training day for each fellow. In addition, SRCD will provide a training in Washington, D.C. focusing on federal policymaking. SRCD State Policy Fellows will be invited to participate remotely in monthly seminars. They will be supported in the development of professional development plans to set goals for the fellowship year and for building on the fellowship in further career steps. SRCD senior staff will also have monthly check-in calls with the fellows.

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Q: What should applicants do if they have further questions?

Please email policyfellowships[at]srcd.org or call 202-800-0666.

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Application Requirements

Q: What is the deadline for letters of intent for the SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowships?

Letters of intent must be submitted no later than December 21, 2018. A selection committee will follow up with invitations for full applications.

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Q: Can the application involve a post-doctoral scholar who is not a U.S. citizen?

No. SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellows are required to be U.S. citizens.

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Q: Must a candidate for the SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship be an SRCD member?

Yes. The post-doctoral scholar must be an SRCD member in order to apply. However, the academic mentor and placement supervisor who will work with the fellow do not need to be members.

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Q: Can the person interested in serving as the academic mentor for an SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellow be someone other than the post-doctoral candidate’s academic advisor within the post-doctoral program?

Yes. The academic mentor can be any professor or a senior researcher from a university center or research organization located in the same state as the placement agency and who has a background or interest in policy-related research. The post-doctoral candidate will want to be sure to communicate with the chair of her or his academic program about applying for this fellowship to confirm that it aligns with plans for the post-doctorate at the academic institution.

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Q: What kind of support will the academic mentor be expected to provide to the fellow?

Academic mentors will be expected to support the fellow’s placement experience by meeting on a regular basis (at least once a month) and through providing guidance and sharing resources relevant to placement projects (within guidelines set by the agency regarding confidentiality and disclosure about projects the fellow is assisting with). Support might include, for example, directing the fellow to research literature relevant to a project; serving as a sounding board in the formulation of a research question, evaluation plan, or plan for monitoring aspects of program implementation; or addressing issues with data analyses. The academic mentor will be asked to participate with the fellow, the fellow’s placement supervisor, and SRCD staff in a kick-off call to start the fellowship year, and to have mid-year and end-of year touch-base calls with a senior member of the SRCD fellowship team. In addition, the fellow, academic mentor, and placement supervisor will be asked to develop their own plan for periodic contact as a “triad” during the course of the fellowship year.

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Q: What role is the state placement supervisor expected to play in the fellowship?

The state placement supervisor should be prepared to utilize the background of the fellow in developmental science in the work of the state agency related to early childhood programs and policies. In addition, he or she should be prepared to support the fellow in developing a greater understanding of state policy development, implementation and evaluation through encouraging participation in appropriate meetings and providing opportunities for discussion of questions and reflections. While there should be an idea of projects appropriate for the fellow to assist with initially, it is expected that projects will evolve, and new projects and opportunities will emerge during the course of the year. The state placement supervisor will be asked to participate with the fellow, the fellow’s academic mentor, and SRCD staff in a kick-off call to start the fellowship year, and to have mid-year and end-of-year touch-base calls with a senior member of the SRCD fellowship team. In addition, the fellow, placement supervisor, and academic mentor will be asked to develop their own plan for periodic contact as a “triad” during the course of the fellowship year.

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Q: What level of degree is needed for those applying to be fellows in the SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship?

To be eligible for the SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship Program, candidates must have completed a doctoral-level degree by the start of the fellowship in September 2019. This includes a Ph.D., Ed.D., or M.D. A candidate with a J.D. alone is not eligible without any of the aforementioned degrees.

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Q: Can applications involve a post-doctoral scholar who will complete the doctorate after the application deadline but before the fellowship year starts?

Yes, as long as the dissertation defense will take place by July 1st and the degree will be awarded by August 31st. A letter from the dissertation committee chair will be requested to confirm this timeline if a full application is invited. There will be no exceptions to this timing.

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Q: Can I reapply for an SRCD State Policy Fellowship?

Yes. SRCD does not impose limits on the number of times a candidate may apply.

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The Application Process

Q: What does a complete letter of intent need to include?

Letters of intent should be submitted jointly by a post-doctoral candidate and a professor or senior researcher (at a university center or research organization) interested in serving as the academic mentor for an SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellow. Sections from the post-doctoral candidate and academic mentor together (as detailed further below) should not exceed three single-spaced pages combined.

The letters of intent must include:

From the post-doctoral candidate:

  • A description of the candidate’s background in child development research, including expertise in early childhood. If applicable, the candidate should describe background in early math, the development of dual language learners, or family engagement.
  • A description of interests and goals related to bridging research and policy.

From the academic mentor:

  • A description of research interests and how these align with the goals of the fellowship.
  • A description of the professional support the academic mentor could provide to the fellow throughout the year, including frequency of regular meetings the mentor would have with the fellow, university resources that would be made available, and discussion of the kinds of guidance and feedback the mentor would be available to provide.
  • A description of an ongoing working relationship with a state executive branch office, plans for development of such a working relationship, or previous policy research that would provide background for serving as an academic mentor to a SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellow.
  • Confirmation that, should a full application be invited, it will be possible to obtain a letter of commitment from a state executive branch office focusing on early childhood, indicating that a placement at the agency will be feasible.
  • A description of the types of work potentially available for the fellow in the state executive branch agency focusing on early childhood, with the understanding that the specific projects and responsibilities will be determined by the agency at a later time.

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Q: How should the letter of intent be submitted?

Letters of intent should be sent via email to policyfellowships[at]srcd.org with the subject line “2019-2020 SRCD Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship Letter of Intent.” A selection committee will review the letters of intent and invite full applications from a subset. A link to the application website will be provided to those invited to submit full applications.

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Q: What will a complete online application include?

Full applications will only be invited from a subgroup of those who submit letters of intent. The description on the website of the requirements of the letter of intent will help to anticipate what will be required in a full application.

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Q: When will the faculty member/senior researcher and candidate for the fellowship be notified as to whether they are invited to submit a full application?

Those submitting letters of intent will be notified in early January as to whether or not they have been selected to complete a full application.

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Q: Will there be an interview?

No, there will not be an interview for this application process.

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