70 legislators and legislative staff convened June 27-29 in Seattle to kick-off cohort-based policy fellowships that recognize the overlapping aspects of the three policy areas.
“We are developing the curriculum for these fellowships in close collaboration with one another and co-locating the meetings to break down policy silos and emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of lawmaking,” said Wade Fickler, director of NCSL’s Children and Families Program. “This shift in programming reflects the fact that children and families do not live in neatly defined policy domains.”
It will be an exclusive group. To become fellows, legislators had to be nominated by their states’ legislative leaders and be selected through an application process. Legislative staff had to be approved by their directors and submit to the same application process as legislators.
Leaders from 38 states and territories nominated 296 legislators and staff. Seventy-one legislators and staff were selected from 28 states and one territory.
Over the course of two in-person meetings and two webinars, fellows will engage in deep learning experiences, build relationships with and exchange information with their peers in other states, develop individual action plans and identify ways NCSL can provide support.
The intersecting aspects of these policy areas will be emphasized through joint sessions, including a plenary session with Melanie Berry, Psy.D. from Harvard University's Center on the Developing Child and Greta Massetti, Ph.D., MPH from the Field Epidemiology and Prevention Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Berry and Massetti will kick off the learning with an exploration of brain science and how healthy brain development in early childhood and adolescence is strongly correlated with positive outcomes later in life.
Early Childhood Fellows will expand their knowledge of high-quality child care and prekindergarten, financing strategies, teacher professional development, early childhood governance solutions and family support programs, such as home visiting.
Child Welfare Fellows will examine the current child welfare system and the underlying causes and contributing factors of child abuse and neglect. Reflecting the intent of the federal Family First Prevention Services Act and an abundance of scientific research, the curriculum will emphasize evidence-based, upstream, family-centered prevention strategies.
Youth Homelessness Fellows will explore the causes and consequences of youth and young adult homelessness and potential policy solutions. Fellows will engage in experiential learning through a site visit to the Mockingbird Society, an organization that focuses on advocating for young people at risk of or experiencing foster care or homelessness.
2022 Fellows Facts
This is NCSL’s tenth cohort of Early Childhood Fellows and first for youth homelessness and a revamped Child Welfare Fellows program.
Early Childhood Fellows come from 18 states and have an average of 4.5 years of legislative experience.
Child Welfare Fellows come from 15 states and have an average of 6.3 years of legislative experience.
Youth Homelessness Fellows come from 19 states and one territory and have an average of 6.8 years of legislative experience.
The Early Childhood Fellows Program is made possible by the Alliance for Early Success. The Child Welfare Fellows Program is made possible by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pritzker Children’s Initiative. The Youth Homelessness Fellows Program is made possible by the Raikes Foundation.
Written by Maddie Davis, National Conference of State Legislatures