For many, summer vacation is synonymous with sunny beaches and relaxation. Genevieve Caffrey ’17 however saw an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of some of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens this summer as an intern at a prominent non-profit child advocacy organization, the Children’s Defense Fund. Her internship was supported by the Levitt Center.
Caffrey’s internship placed her alongside the Children’s Defense Fund’s policy team, where she focused on child welfare and mental health policy. Her timing could not have been better, as this summer saw significant developments regarding a major CDF initiative, the Family First Prevention Services Act, which moved through the House of Representatives and onto the Senate during the course of Caffrey’s time at the organization. “Most of my day- -to-day work was supporting the child welfare mental health team as CDF strategized with other child welfare advocates in how to best promote this bill,” she said. “This including pulling information on specific states’ foster care systems, attending coalition meetings, and breaking down the bill’s language into clear policy changes and timelines.”
Major: Public Policy
Hometown: Berkeley Heights, N.J.
High School: Governor Livingston High School
This wasn’t the first time that Caffrey has worked in the field of child advocacy and welfare, however. In the summer of 2015 she had in an internship with the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency - an experience that she said was fundamental to the development of her interest in looking at the cause of child-welfare at the federal level.
It wasn’t just past work experience that drove Caffrey to the CDF, she said, but also the personal experience gained from her family’s status as a foster home for young children. “Fostering shaped a lot of my values and goals and has informed many of my academic and internship decisions so far,” claimed Caffrey. She added that she “found CDF’s commitment to developing an intergenerational, interracial, and interfaith dialog about children’s issues to be so powerful, I knew I wanted to contribute to and learn from that kind of organization.”
By all measures Caffrey’s instincts in that respect seem to have served her well. Through her work on the Family First Prevention Services Act she claimed that she was able to learn more not only about how child welfare advocacy groups collaborate, strategize and support policies of mutual importance, but also about the multiplicity of routes that she might take to continue her passion for child advocacy. “This internship allowed me to see so many different ways I can pursue child advocacy, at the federal, state, and community level... Although I do not know how I specifically want to address children’s issues yet, I will definitely reflect on my experience at CDF as I move forward and make these decisions,” she concluded.