State Agency Placements

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If you want to get to work right away, implementing policy and programs, the state fellowship is for you. State fellows are often on the implementation side of policy, assisting in the design, implementation or analysis for program evaluation. They might participate in taskforces or do strategic planning for departments or analyze state data to improve program performance.
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State fellows experience the day-to-day life of agencies that are tasked with delivering services and programs to support children and families. Whether you’re working on child welfare issues, childcare, or parental leave policies, you will not be bored in these roles.

Over its seven year history, SRCD has supported fellows in 20 states across the country. Many of the state alumni have gone on to do impressive work in academe, research firms, and state agencies.

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"I received exceptional mentorship from my supervisors at the state, my academic mentor, and SRCD. For me, state policy was really the main draw. I always was most interested in state policy, because the state policy landscape is so rich and exciting. There's a lot happening. A state like Michigan, for example, is very diverse, politically, socially, and economically. And it's been really exciting to get to work in this very active team."

 – Lara Markovitz, State Agency Fellow (2022-2024)

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About the State Agency Placements

Recent fellows have participated in task forces and facilitated inter-agency listening sessions. They have helped redesign how the state works with Medicaid to ensure home visiting can be billed. And, they have helped design formal pre-K evaluation systems to assess program quality.

State agencies differ in their working arrangements. Depending on the agency, you might work full-time in the office or in a hybrid pattern.

We support placements in any state. As an applicant, you will identify a state agency placement that is happy to participate before you apply. SRCD can help prospective fellow find a placement. On this page we provide information about state agencies that have expressed interest in hosting a fellow. We’ve also provided information about all of the early childhood agencies in states in the U.S.

State agencies interested in becoming a placement location can learn more here. 

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The Work You'll Do

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Fellows have worked on a wide range of projects on children’s well-being and learning. Examples include:

  • Developing evidence-informed quality rubrics for early care and education programs.
  • Analyzing agency data to understand disparities in the child welfare system. 
  • Analyzing and sharing district-level and state-level data from kindergarten entry assessments. 
  • Developing cost analysis to support increased billing rates for home visiting programs. 

Fellows address topics that are determined jointly based on the agency’s needs and the fellow’s skill set.

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Why should you apply?

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State fellows experience the full gamut of the policy world. They see how the federal government tries to influence their decisions, and they are directly responsible for implementing programs. It is a perspective that you won’t gain anywhere else. If you are willing to learn and grow, you will be rewarded with ample opportunities to take leadership opportunities in new areas in most state placements.

States have a great deal of discretion in how to implement most federal social programs, and they often have state-specific programs as well. State placements give fellows a view of policy that is closer to the “ground level” where policy reaches children and families.

Here are a few other things to consider:

  • State fellows are often on the implementation side of policy, assisting in the design, implementation, or analysis for program evaluation.
  • Because many state agencies have limited resources for staff, fellows are often given significant opportunities for leadership after an initial adjustment period.
  • Prior state fellows have participated in taskforces, supported family and community input into policymaking, designed key initiatives and strategies for departments, designed evaluation approaches, and analyzed state data to inform improve program performance.

Learn more about the work current state agency fellows did in their Spotlight posts.

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Where They're Offered

State fellows can be in any state (we consider D.C, too!). We have had fellows in 20 U.S. states so far.

Finding a Placement

Unlike our federal agency and Congressional placements, state fellows must find a willing state agency prior to applying for the fellowship.

To help you find a possible placement, we have compiled a list of agencies that have previously had a fellow and have indicated that they would be willing to support a fellow this coming year. Please use this contact list to start a conversation with the agency.

List of Agency Contacts

State Agency Title First Name Last Name Email Address Phone Number Brief description of potential projects
Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education Acting Secretary Jan Hume jan.hume@ece.alabama.gov 334-549-4645 Kindergarten readiness with much flexibility on specifics.
California Department of Education, Early Education Division Deputy Superintendent Sarah Neville-Morgan Deputysuperintendent-OFAB@cde.ca.gov   Universal PreK, quality improvement, supporting DLLs, children with disabilities, workforce, racially-marginalized learners, P-3 alignment, data infrastructure.
Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Early Childhood Director, Division of Community and Family Support Kendra Dunn kendra.dunn@state.co.us   Child abuse prevention, home visiting, early childhood mental health, or early intervention (IDEA Part C).
Connecticut Office of Early Childhood Chief of Staff Katherine Devine katherine.devine@ct.gov 860-810-0641 We are working on connecting OEC data with State Department of Education data to follow children through school age.
Connecticut Office of Policy and Management Director of Evaluation and Impact Rachel Leventhal-Weiner rachel.leventhal-weiner@ct.gov 860-418-6262 The fellow would work on the following policy areas: childcare, early intervention, pre-K.
DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education Director, Quality Initiatives Kathryn Kigera Kathryn.Kigera@dc.gov 202-412-0013 Child care, pre-K, early childhood workforce supports.
Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care Deputy Commissioner for Workforce, Program Support and Innovation Jocelyn Bowne jocelyn.bowne@mass.gov 617-483-3712 We have a broad range of early childhood system focused development work in process (educator credential, quality system, UPK, operational funding, child care subsidies) that a policy fellow could support.
New York State Office of Children and Family Services Deputy Commissioner Nora Yates Nora.yates@ocfs.ny.gov 518-486-6247 Early childhood program quality improvement and coordination across the child care/Pre-K spectrum.
RI Department of Health Chief of Perinatal and Early Childhood Health Blythe Berger blythe.berger@health.ri.gov 401-222-5949 Early childhood mental health and /or home visiting
Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families Director- Office of Innovation, Alignment & Accountability Sarah Veele sarah.veele@dcyf.wa.gov 360-688-3465 Early learning as child welfare prevention / early intervention. Possible areas for research and policy recommendations include: Identify populations best suited to be targeted for intervention and barriers to access; identify EL interventions most effective at supporting family functioning; examine barriers between EL and CW coordination and propose solutions.

 

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We will accept other states, too, so don’t limit yourself to this list if your state isn’t on there. A list of all the state early childhood agencies in the U.S. can be found here.

The state placement is generously supported by the Heising-Simons Foundation, whose investment strategy focuses on early childhood development (ages birth through eight), so the work of state fellows must align with that area of work. You will need to ensure that the work the state agency has in mind will meet this focus. For example, systems that touch young children such as health systems, child welfare, childcare, and programs that touch low-income families.    

When you reach out to a perspective placement, we suggest you include this flier in your email, to help the agency learn more about what you are offering. You can always reach out to policy@srcd.org if you or your potential placement has a question.

You can also talk to a former state fellow. Previous fellows found it helpful to speak with fellow alum about the application process. If you would like to reach out to a former fellow, you can view list of previous fellows or email policy@srcd.org to set up a connection with a former fellow.

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Specific Eligibility Requirements

View the How to Apply page for specific eligibility requirements, including citizenship and a focus on early childhood (ages birth through eight).