The past 10 weeks of my internship at Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA) have gone by too quickly. I am sad to say goodbye to my fellow colleagues and to our nation’s capital—the center of the universe for a political science major like me. I will greatly miss the many opportunities I had with CCAoA.
At CCAoA, I was not only involved in research, but I had the opportunity to share my findings with the real world to influence policy. If I had one take-away from this summer, it is that the world needs research so we can implement data-backed policies that have an impact. Though, my title was Research and Policy Intern during my time at CCAoA, the wide variety of projects I worked on also helped to grow other skills. I have learned to speak effectively to our nation’s leaders and gained a better understanding of the process behind persuasion. I also improved my writing skills through completing reports such as a report on nonstandard hours in child care, where I took the lead and helped develop the data, lending a different perspective on the discoveries.
I went from hardly knowing what a Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency is, to now recognizing their value and importance. I talked to several states about their local efforts to increase the availability and affordability of child care. I was also completely unaware of an undercount of children in the U.S. Census, but now I am a strong advocate for a complete count of children. I even had the chance to arrange meetings on Capitol Hill to discuss the undercount with several senators. I targeted two Republican senators, Shelley Moore Capito and Susan Collins, in order to cultivate bipartisan support for combating the undercount. It was those hands-on experiences that reinvigorate me as I return for classes this Fall. I have a better understanding of how what I am studying transfers to the real world and my passion for children and families have gotten stronger during my time at CCAoA. I am excited to return to the University of Michigan with new skills and knowledge.
This has been a summer full of moments I will never forget. Events such as attending a Senate hearing on paid family leave is one in particular that stood out. It was exciting to see bipartisan attention brought to the issue, and Ivanka Trump was even in attendance! That day I also happened to see Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee, in the halls of the Dirksen Senate building. This was only a week after he was nominated, and as a political junkie, it was about the equivalent of seeing a celebrity.
Another one of the meetings on the Hill that was very meaningful was with my very own senator, Gary Peters. I was able to talk to him about the importance of an accurate count of children in the census for my home state of Michigan.
I went to various conferences and meetings around D.C., including a National Advisory Committee meeting at the Census Bureau, the Research and Evaluation Conference on Self-Sufficiency and an event at the Bipartisan Policy Institute. I am so thankful to CCAoA because I never would have had these experiences otherwise, and frankly, I did not know many of these opportunities existed before I arrived to DC!
This certainly has been a summer full of highlights, both in and out of the office. It has been a privilege to work at CCAoA, and I am grateful for all I have learned. I am going to miss waking up each day knowing that what I am doing is making a difference for children and their families. I leave with a wealth of knowledge and with the hope that one day I will be returning to D.C. for a career in public service.