Economic Mobility Fellowship Research Internship Position


The Economic Mobility Fellowship is a 12- to 24-month full-time position in which candidates receive mentorship, training, and hands-on experience to enhance their qualitative and quantitative research skills and policy analysis skills while working in a highly-respected federal office in Washington, DC.

Fellows are employed by the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) and work in-residence at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Secretary (OS), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), Office of Human Services Policy (HSP), Division of Children and Youth Policy (CYP). ASPE is the principal advisor to the Secretary of Health and Human Services; leads special initiatives; coordinates the Department’s evaluation, research, and demonstration activities; and manages cross-Department planning activities such as strategic planning, legislative planning, and review of regulations. Integral to this role, ASPE conducts research and evaluation studies; develops policy analyses; and estimates the cost and benefits of policy alternatives under consideration by the Department or Congress. To learn more about ASPE and the work they do, check out this video.

The Economic Mobility Fellow will work within the HSP Division of Children and Youth Policy on the team responsible for analyzing policies, conducting research activities, and coordinating interagency work related to early childhood programs administered by the HHS Administration for Children and Families, such as Head Start, pre-kindergarten, and childcare.

Other teams in the Division of Children and Youth Policy focus on child welfare, child protection and family support; prevention of teen pregnancy and youth risk behaviors; positive child and youth development; and human services for children and youth. The Division often works on projects focused on subpopulations such as youth who are not in school or working; children, youth and their families experiencing homelessness; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersexed (LGBTQI) youth and their experiences in human service systems; children who are dual language learners and their experiences in early learning programs; children and youth of various racial and ethnic groups; and children in rural areas and low-income families.

Mentoring and Training

Fellows will be matched with a mentor and will develop an individualized training development plan. Fellows will also participate in quarterly trainings offered by IRP to all in-residence Fellows at HHS and have funding to attend a research conference each year.

Major Duties and Responsibilities

Conducts policy analysis and qualitative research tasks to advise management on early childhood education systems, programs, and initiatives as a means to promote child- and family-wellbeing and economic mobility, including effective approaches for children and youth of various racial and ethnic groups.

  1. Maintains current knowledge of research and evidence-based practices related to HHS early childhood education and related systems and initiatives across all levels of government.
  2. Makes recommendations on policies, strategies, partnerships, and practices that could result in early childhood education program improvements with regard to social services for low-income children and families, and for high needs communities.
  3. Conducts reviews and analyses of budgets, programmatic and regulatory materials, evaluations, and other research related to early childhood education and related issues for low-income children and communities.
  4. Designs and conducts quantitative and qualitative research and policy analysis activities including formulating, executing, and analyzing data, surveys, interviews, and case studies. Synthesizes findings to make recommendations about system and program improvements and regulations.
  5. Develops memoranda, briefs, talking points, issue papers, and other materials that accurately identify issues, present appropriate summaries of the evidence base, and make recommendations to supervisor and other managers and leadership.
  6. Identifies and maintains collaborative relationships between ASPE offices, internal and external federal agencies’ programs, tribal and state agencies, local programs and grantees, and other partners to support program development and effectiveness.
  7. Participates in and provides staff support for committees and working groups relating to early childhood education.
  8. Briefs supervisor, office leadership, and other Department leaders on the results of analyses, research, and evaluations.

Performs other related duties as assigned.

Key Skills and Experience

  • Master’s degree in public policy, public administration, social welfare, public health, psychology, child development, education, program evaluation, research methods, or a related field.
  • General understanding of U.S. social welfare policies with personal or professional experience working with families from diverse backgrounds who are engaging with federal human services programs such as HeadStart, early care and education programs, TANF, SNAP, or WIC. Expertise desired in early childhood education, including the Child Care and Development Fund and related topics (e.g., childcare markets, licensing, QRIS).
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office suite, including Microsoft Excel, is required.
  • Training, professional experience, or ability to develop expertise in human services program evaluation including conducting surveys, interviews, and case studies independently or with outside contractors.
  • Ability to identify and integrate equity strategies into research and evaluation design, co-creation, and reporting.
  • High attention to detail, able to work independently and in a group setting under tight timelines and shifting priorities and employ strong problem-solving skills.
  • Excellent verbal communication skills with the ability to present complex information to a non-technical audience and present options to high-level management.
  • Strong writing skills with the ability to produce and edit a range of products from research and policy reports to PowerPoint slides, tailoring products to the intended audience and ensuring accuracy of information presented.