Children's Defense Fund


The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. CDF provides a strong, effective and independent voice for all the children of America who cannot vote, lobby or speak for themselves. We pay particular attention to the needs of poor children, children of color and those with disabilities. CDF educates the nation about the needs of children and encourages preventive investments before they get sick, drop out of school, get into trouble or suffer family breakdown.

The Children’s Defense Fund is seeking interns for Summer 2018 in the following departments:

Child Health

The Child Health staff works to ensure that every child has a Healthy Start in life. Their primary policy goal is to ensure all children have access to affordable, comprehensive health coverage that is easy to get and to keep. Work includes policy analysis, legislative and administrative advocacy, research and coalition building around implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the federal budget, and other elements of maternal and child health policy.

Child Welfare and Mental Health

The Child Welfare and Mental Health staff works to improve outcomes for children and youth by promoting public policies, practices and programs that will keep children safe and in permanent nurturing families and communities. Particular attention is given to those policies and programs that serve or advocate for children who have been abused or neglected, or are at risk of abuse and neglect; are in families challenged by substance abuse, mental health problems and domestic violence; are being raised by grandparents or other relatives; have serious emotional problems and need mental health services, and/or are at risk of coming to the attention of the child welfare system. CDF uses a range of advocacy strategies to address these concerns.

Early Childhood Policy

CDF fully supports the need for consistent, quality education beginning in a child’s earliest years. CDF's early childhood staff works to promote high quality early childhood experiences for ALL children. One of the main areas of work is spearheading the national campaign to focus public attention on ensuring all children have access to free full-day kindergarten. CDF works with other early childhood advocates and professionals to promote additional funding for programs serving low income children birth through five years of age.

Juvenile Justice

CDF strives to ensure that fewer children encounter the juvenile justice system and the adult criminal justice system and that those who do receive the help they need to thrive. To that end, efforts are made

to address the holistic needs of children and youth (1) at the front end (prevention and diversion), (2) during time spent in the juvenile justice or adult criminal justice systems, and (3) the back end (upon release and reentry into the community). Focusing on these three points will allow the “justice” part of juvenile justice to have true meaning by focusing on youth development, rehabilitation, and family engagement/strengthening families. CDF’s juvenile justice work includes advocacy, coalition building, policy analysis, and research.


Policy Internship Primary Responsibilities:

• Identifying and researching initiatives in health, early childhood development, education, poverty, child welfare, gun violence, juvenile and criminal justice to address the needs of children and families

• Tracking and analyzing federal and state legislation

• Monitoring, analyzing, and summarizing policy developments, the federal budget, research briefs and studies that relate to children, low income families, and other key issue areas

• Attending hearings and briefings, both on and off Capitol Hill, that are relevant to CDF’s work, and writing succinct summaries to share with the policy team

• Contributing to the development of issue briefs, fact sheets, and other materials relevant to our work for publication or the website

• Rapid response research for internal and external data requests

• Participating in the educational component of the CDF internship program, including luncheons, seminars, and trips

• Other duties and projects as assigned


Policy Internship Preferred Qualifications:

• Ability to work effectively and calmly in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment with daily deadlines

• Strong organizational and analytical skills

• Ability to organize facts and present issues in a clear, concise, and logical manner, both orally and in writing

• Strong internet research skills

• Self-starter who is comfortable working independently

• Demonstrated interest in learning about policies that affect children and low-income families.

• Commitment to social advocacy and CDF’s mission to be a voice for all children in America

• For those interested in policy research, strong excel skills and ideally experience using a statistical software packaged (Stata or SPSS), and experience with federal data sources (census, NCHS, HHS, DOE,

2018 Intern Reflection

My time at the Children's Defense Fund has been incredibly informative and exciting. On a given day, I might be tracking and summarizing a new poverty bill in the House, attending a conference on the undercount of young children in the 2020 census, joining a phone call on the separation of children and families at the border, going to a Senate hearing on Pay for Success implementation, or researching foster care prevention programs in New York City. I love the variety of work I've had and topics I've been exposed to, as well as the ability to break up the 9-5 desk work with luncheons, meetings, and conversations both in CDF and around D.C. CDF hosts "Brownbag Lunches" just for interns during which staff, including our president, Marian Wright Edelman, answer our questions and tell us about their work and career path. The intern class is about 15 or 20 people, and we've all gotten close, hanging out in and out of work. As a policy intern, I spend much of my time writing fact sheets or summaries of important issues or bills, as well as memos to supervisors. I've gotten to help with some of the work going into CDF's signature report on ending child poverty and I've been exposed to fascinating and important research on child health, juvenile justice, child welfare, immigration, financial barriers to equality, youth homelessness, teen pregnancy, and more.

Rachel Tropp '20

Washington, D.C.
Advocacy/Policy, Research