Mann Externships 2011-2012

Brittney Imholte, Fall 2011

Brittney graduated in May 2012 with majors in psychology and cognitive science and a childhood studies minor. She has a passion for working with children with special needs and is enthusiastic about learning how policy contributes to this process.

Brittney was placed at the Achievement Centers for Children (ACC), under the supervision of Darla Motil, Director of Community Relations. Brittney attended conferences and met with legislators, collected data for contacting legislators and policymakers, conducted research on possible effects of 2012 Ohio ballot issues, gained an understanding for how policy issues influence a budget and assisted with development activities. In addition, Brittney conducted research on pediatric Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) as part of health reform policy, and how implementing pediatric ACOs in Ohio may affect children and providers, and impact policy and practice. Her externship helped her understand how a social service organization collaborates with legislators and policy makers to better serve children and families.

“Working as a Mann Child Policy Extern at ACC was one of the most valuable experiences I have had as an undergraduate,” says Brittney. “This opportunity gave me insight into a non-profit agency that is determined to help children and families with special needs, and to inform policy. I grew so much as a student and a professional during this time, and I will certainly carry these experiences with me as I continue to work with children with special needs.”

Achievement Centers for Children is a nonprofit organization that strives to enable and empower children with disabilities and their families to excel in society through learning and growing. ACC serves more than 4,000 children and families annually in the Cleveland area through programs providing childcare options, family support, therapy and recreational opportunities for children with special needs.

“While Brittney made many contributions to the Achievement Centers for Children, the most valuable for me was her extensive research regarding impending legislation at the state and federal levels regarding pediatric Accountable Care Organizations,” Motil reflects. “Brittney saved countless hours that would have postponed our progress and perhaps we would have missed opportunities to participate in state-level discussions regarding health care changes that will impact the children and families we serve.”

Emily Lawson, Spring 2012

Emily graduated in May 2012 with majors in psychology, sociology and theater. She applied for the Mann Child Policy Externship in hopes of expanding her understanding of early childhood policy, and plans to pursue a career in teaching.

Emily was placed with Starting Point, a child resource and referral agency in Cleveland, under the supervision of Michelle Bledsoe, Early Childhood Project Coordinator in the Special Needs Child Care department. Emily’s work centered around the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA), the Social and Emotional Field Guide, and the U.S. Department of Education Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge. Through DECA, Emily learned the importance of individual student assessment in the classroom for educators. She also assisted writing the federal grant application for Race to the Top. Finally, she gained hands-on experience in understanding the significance of exposing preschoolers to situations that will encourage their social and emotional development.

“My work with the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant, in particular, helped me understand the impact of policy on the everyday lives of children and those who care for them, like early care providers,” says Emily. “I was inspired to continue working with children through my externship and look forward to professional experiences as a teacher in the future.”

Starting Point is Northeast Ohio’s childcare and early education resource and referral agency, serving families, early childhood professionals and the broader community in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga and Lake counties. Formed in 1990, Starting Point works to link families with childcare services, increase the availability of childcare, improve the quality of childcare, stimulate early education alternatives, develop childcare and early education initiatives, and address childcare and early education issues.

“Emily applied a great amount of effort in analyzing the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant and successfully pinpointed a specific area of the grant to focus on in order to understand how changes in the quality of early childhood programming would impact the capacity of our agency to meet consumer need,” Bledsoe remarks. “Her contribution in this area will be utilized as we solidify our planning process to implement new policy that originates from this grant.”

Mai Segawa, Spring 2012

Mai is a senior studying psychology and medical anthropology with a minor in childhood studies. She plans to pursue a doctorate in psychology and was eager to gain first-hand policy experience through the Mann Child Policy Externship.

Mai was placed at The Centers for Families and Children (CFC), under the supervision of Loren Anthes, Government and Community Relations Manager, and Alesha Washington, Director of Executive Administration and Government Relations. Mai researched the link between trauma and poverty in Cleveland. Her research centered on trauma-informed care and treatment methods of at-risk adolescents in the context of CFC’s integrated behavioral health care system. More specifically, she compared evidence-based practices for trauma-informed treatment such as Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy to inform recommendations to CFC concerning the most cost-efficient and effective therapy methods for vulnerable youth. Her research also included the impact of childhood trauma on early childhood development to better understand the critical importance of early intervention for childhood trauma. Mai prepared a brief summarizing her findings on the effects of trauma on early childhood development and presented to CFC administrators on potential opportunities to advance a trauma-informed approach.

Before this child policy externship, I did not understand how critical it is for policy makers to have research to back up any policy initiative at the local, state, or national level,” Mai states. “Through analyzing several national trauma prevention policies such as the Defending Childhood Initiative, I realized how closely research is tied with funding streams and the value of service organizations to consider and pursue, if possible, appropriate evidence-based practices.”

The Centers for Families and Children is one of the oldest and largest nonprofit organizations in Northeast Ohio, aimed at bridging the opportunity gap by connecting individuals and families with effective health care, education and human services. The CFC serves 20,000 people each year with a wide variety of services from its 18 locations and community outreach initiatives across Greater Cleveland. Their areas of focus include early learning, health and wellness, workforce development, youth and family services, food center distribution and youth development.

“Mai worked hard to understand a complex business and made tremendous strides in achieving a greater understanding of the connections between politics, policy and organization programming,” her supervisors reflect. “This is an excellent program that provides a tremendous opportunity to students.”

Rekha Iyer, Spring 2012

Rekha graduated in 2012 with majors in psychology and Spanish and minors in childhood studies and sociology. When she learned about the Mann Child Policy Externship, she jumped at the chance to work directly with young people in the juvenile justice system.

Rekha was placed with the Probation Department of the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court, supervised by Tim McDevitt, placement manager. In addition to shadowing key players in the juvenile court system and meeting with youth in detention, Rekha researched children considered “crossover youth,” children who are involved both in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. Rekha conducted a detailed case review of a sample of juvenile delinquents that were considered crossover youth. Based on this review and analysis, she developed a set of recommendations both agencies could implement to collaborate and share resources and best practices. Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court is currently working with the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services to better serve crossover youth and has taken this research into consideration.

“My work at the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court gave me a new set of tools and skills that I can and have been using in all aspects of my life,” says Rekha. “Participating in the Mann Child Policy Externship experience greatly helped shape my career and goal aspirations. I can confidently say that without this experience, I would still be struggling with what it is I want to do in the future.”

The mission of the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court is “to administer justice, rehabilitate juveniles, support and strengthen families and promote public safety.” The court strives to achieve its mission in part by connecting youth and families involved in the juvenile justice system to community and residential services designed to help them learn how to live successfully and safely in society.

“Rekha was a pleasure and provided a valuable service to the juvenile court,” says McDevitt. “Rekha researched youth involved in both juvenile justice and child welfare and really had to drill down on cases and analyze why custody decisions were made in order to help inform future planning efforts by the probation department and the court.”

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