Sarah Dennis to Research Challenges of License-Exempt Child Care Providers in Summer Internship

My name is Sarah Dennis, and I recently joined Michigan’s Children as an intern. In the fall, I will be a junior at Michigan State University in James Madison College. I am studying Social Relations and Policy with a concentration in Institutions and Public Policy. I am so excited to be able to intern at Michigan’s Children and learn about the amazing advocacy work they do to help families and children in Michigan.

As a Social Relations and Policy major, my courses allow me the opportunity to explore public issues, both historically and comparatively. Moreover, the course of study focuses on how these issues are impacted by group relations. Through case studies, I research how policy has exacerbated or mitigated public issues as well as discuss ideal policy solutions. A policy issue that I have studied in class that interests me is educational policy. In courses such as “Social Theory & Social Relations and Policy” and “Identity and Community,” course texts have furthered my interest in education and creating a more equitable academic environment for K-12 students. Particularly Annette Lareau’s “Unequal Childhood’’ and Deborah Hicks’s “Growing Up Girl in Working-Poor America” were revealing in the shortcomings of our educational system; specifically, our schools don’t have enough funding to provide the proper resources for students facing socio-economic barriers at home. Therefore, I find it crucial to allocate more funding for our schools so students have the resources they need.

Class discussions were especially enlightening on educational policy as a student who, along with many of my peers, graduated from high school in 2020 and started college at home due to the pandemic. Often in class we engaged in dialogue about how this virus has emphasized inequities in America and continues to disproportionately affect marginalized communities. For example, students facing economic barriers were further disadvantaged compared to their peers during online learning. These students did not have the same access to technology, Wi-Fi, and other resources needed to succeed in an online environment. Additionally, school social services and programs offered in schools (e.g. free/reduced lunches) were difficult to distribute to families in need during the lockdown. Coming from a family of educators, I know the transformative impact education has on our youth. In addition to schools giving children a quality education, they also provide students with the resources that families may need assistance with.

This summer at Michigan’s Children I am going to be researching how we can help these families and students outside of the classrooms. Specifically, I will be researching license-exempt child care providers, their challenges as providers, as well as how we can best help them so that we can give working families the best and most accessible child care. In addition to allocating the proper funding to schools to help Michigan students, we need to make sure students have quality childcare when they leave the classrooms. As an intern at Michigan’s Children, I look forward to continuing research regarding these social issues and advocating for the children of Michigan. I know the skills I learn and the research I pursue will help me with my career endeavors of public service and advocacy.

Sarah Dennis, a native of Waterford near Detroit, is interning through the summer at Michigan’s Children.