Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellowship in Early Education FAQ

General Questions about the Pre-doctoral State Fellowship Program

Q: Who should apply for the SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellowship?
Q: What makes a graduate student a strong candidate for the SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellowship in Early Learning?
Q: What is the duration of the SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellowship?
Q: Where will fellowships be located?
Q: What will the focus of the fellowship placements be?
Q: Who funds the SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellowship?
Q: What financial support is provided to the SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellow?
Q: Will the fellow get a larger stipend if the university does not require a contribution towards tuition?
Q: What if the participating graduate student can’t complete a 20-hour placement during the academic year?
Q: Is it possible that there will be multiple fellows in the same state agency?
Q: What is the relationship between this program and the longstanding SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship Program?
Q: Does this program involve learning advocacy?
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 the letters of intent for the SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellowship?
Q: May I apply if I am not a U.S. citizen?
Q: Do graduate students need to be SRCD members in order to be part of an application?
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: Do faculty members and graduate students need to come from graduate programs in child development, human development, developmental science, or developmental psychology in order to submit application?
Q: Can the faculty member interested in serving as the academic mentor for a fellow be someone other than the graduate student’s advisor within the doctoral program?

The Application Process

Q: What does a complete online 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 response to the letter of intent be sent, indicating whether a full application is invited?
Q: Will there be an interview?
Q: What if participation will delay the graduate student’s academic progress?


General Questions about the Pre-doctoral State Fellowship Program

Q: Who should apply for the SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellowship?

The SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellowship is designed for scholars with a background in early learning and development. Applicants must have completed at least 2 years of doctoral coursework and be in good academic standing in a program leading to a doctoral degree related to child development. Participation must be in keeping with the graduate student’s requirements and progress towards the doctorate. The application process can be initiated by a professor or university-based researcher submitting a letter of intent together with a pre-doctoral scholar, or by a professor or university-based researcher submitting a letter of intent without yet naming a particular graduate student. In this case, those preparing letters of intent must note the process by which a specific graduate student will be identified for the full application.

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Q: What makes a graduate student a strong candidate for the SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellowship in Early Learning?

SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellows will serve as ambassadors for developmental science. Therefore, scholarship in early childhood development (especially in the area of early learning), is the most important qualification for the program. The graduate student’s interests, career goals, and interpersonal and communication skills are important considerations.

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

The SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellowship is a 12-month part-time immersion experience beginning at the start of September 2019 and ending at the end of August 2020. Individuals participating in the program must sign an agreement acknowledging this year-long commitment.

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Q: Where will fellowships be located?

The SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellowship involves part-time placements in U.S. state executive branch agencies focusing on early learning. The state agency must be involved with the state pre-kindergarten program.

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

Placements must be in a state executive branch agency that focuses on early learning policies and programs, specifically the state pre-kindergarten program. The policy 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 Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellowship?

The SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellowship is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Q: What financial support is provided to the SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellow?

SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellows will receive a $30,000 stipend, provided directly to the fellow. An allocation of up to $15,000 to defray the cost of tuition and health insurance will be provided to the fellow or academic institution as appropriate. Academic mentors will receive an honorarium of $5,000 in appreciation for their mentoring of the fellow. Funding will be available for the fellow, academic mentor, and state placement supervisor to attend a national meeting focusing on early childhood development together.

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Q: Will the fellow get a larger stipend if the university does not require a contribution towards tuition?

No. $30,000 is the maximum stipend.

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Q: What if the participating graduate student can’t complete a 20-hour placement during the academic year?

It is fine if the hours of placement vary somewhat between the academic year and summer as long as this variation is approved by both the academic mentor (the faculty member submitting the letter of intent and application) and placement supervisor (staff member at the state executive branch placement interested in guiding the work of the fellow at the placement). The average must be 20 hours per week across the year. The total number of placement hours across the fellowship year must total to about 960 hours. Fellows will be asked to keep a weekly or daily log documenting their hours completing placement work, briefly noting the activities they were engaged in as well.

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Q: Is it possible that there will be multiple fellows in the same state agency?

Yes, this is a possibility. However, it will need to be clear that each state policy fellow will be able to make separate and meaningful contributions to the placement.

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

SRCD is continuing its strong commitment to the SRCD Federal Policy Fellowship Program. SRCD Pre-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: 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 for the faculty member or graduate student, this program is not a good fit.

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Q: Will there be any reporting requirements to SRCD?

Pre-doctoral state policy fellows will be asked to complete a log either daily or weekly providing a brief summary of activities and hours at the placement. They will have monthly calls with SRCD staff in the Washington, DC office. Towards the end of the fellowship year, fellows will also be required to create a final portfolio providing examples of their contributions at the placement. State 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.  The portfolio will also involve an introduction and reflections on what the fellow has learned through the fellowship about bridging between research and policy. SRCD State Policy Fellows will be asked to come to Washington, D.C. towards the end of the fellowship year to share presentations based on their portfolios. 

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

SRCD will arrange for and participate with each fellow in an individualized state-specific training day. In addition, SRCD will provide a training in Washington, D.C. focusing on federal child and family policy.  SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellows will also be invited to participate remotely in monthly seminars. SRCD staff will have check-in calls with the fellows on a monthly basis. In addition, SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellows will be supported in articulating specific goals for how the placement experience will contribute to their next steps in pursuing the doctorate as well as their broader professional development by completing a professional development plan several months into the fellowship year.

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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 the letters of intent for the SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellowship?

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

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Q: May I apply if I am not a U.S. citizen?

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

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Q: Do graduate students need to be SRCD members in order to be part of an application?

Yes. In order to be eligible for the SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellowship, graduate students must be SRCD members. However, the academic mentor and placement supervisor who will work with the fellow do not need to be members.

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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, his or her state 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. The academic mentor, fellow, and state 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 years.

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Q: Do faculty members and graduate students need to come from graduate programs in child development, human development, developmental science, or developmental psychology in order to submit application?

No. Applications are welcome from faculty and graduate students from other disciplines as long as they have a strong focus on child development research.

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Q: Can the faculty member interested in serving as the academic mentor for a fellow be someone other than the graduate student’s advisor within the doctoral program?

Yes. However, as part of the full application (if one is invited), a letter will be required from the program chair confirming that participation in the SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellowship is in keeping with program requirements and steps for progressing towards the doctorate.

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The Application Process

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

A letter of intent may be submitted either:

  1. Jointly by a graduate student and an interested professor or university-based researcher or
  2. Solely by an interested professor or university-based researcher, in which case, a specific pre-doctoral candidate does not need yet to be identified in the letter of intent.

The letter of intent must include:

Section on policy research interests:

  • A description of the ongoing or planned policy research of the professor or researcher in a university-based center.

Section on current/planned working relationship with state executive branch office:

  • 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 the SRCD Pre-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 state pre-kindergarten, indicating that a placement with the agency will be feasible.
  • A description of the types of work potentially available for the SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellow in the executive branch agency focusing on pre-kindergarten, with the understanding that specific projects and responsibilities will be determined together with the agency at a later time.

Section on selecting and providing input and mentoring for the SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellow:

  • A description of the background of the pre-doctoral candidate if identified, or a description of the process by which the professor or university-based researcher will identify a specific candidate. Candidates will need to be enrolled in a doctoral-level degree program with a focus on child development research, to have completed at least 2 years of coursework, be in good academic standing, demonstrate exceptional competence in child development research, and have an interest in early learning and policy research.
  • A description of the professional support the professor or university-based researcher 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.

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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 Pre-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 laying out the requirements of the letter of intent will also help to anticipate what will be required in a full application.

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Q: When will the response to the letter of intent be sent, indicating whether a full application is invited?

A response to the letter of intent will be transmitted in early January. The response will indicate whether or not a full application is invited and provide details on how to submit the full application if one is invited.

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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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Q: What if participation will delay the graduate student’s academic progress?

It is important for the faculty member submitting the letter of intent to confirm that participation will not impede a graduate student’s progress toward the doctorate. Please be sure to carefully review how participation in the SRCD Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellowship will align with the requirements of the graduate program. If the faculty member submitting the letter of intent is not chair of the graduate student’s academic program, it is important to confirm with the program chair that participation in the fellowship will not impede progress toward the doctorate.

If the letter of intent is submitted jointly by a professor/university-based researcher and a particular graduate student, or is submitted by a professor/university—based researcher alone but naming a particular graduate student with whom a full application would be submitted if invited, the letter of intent should indicate how participation in the fellowship would align with the timeline for either development of the dissertation proposal (for graduate students earlier in their doctoral studies) or completion of the dissertation (for graduate students further along in their graduate studies and who have an approved dissertation proposal). If the letter of intent is submitted by a professor or university-based researcher indicating a general plan for identifying a graduate student should a full application be invited, the letter of intent should lay out how progress towards the doctorate will be taken into account in selecting a particular graduate student, specifying criteria with respect to preparation of the dissertation proposal or completion of dissertation research.

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