Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, January 27, 2022

Genevieve Caffrey, MPA, Master of Social Work

Genevieve Caffrey, MPA, Master of Social Work

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Hometown
Berkeley Heights, NJ 

Undergraduate education
Bachelor’s degree in public policy, minors in mathematics and art, Hamilton College

Professional/research interests
Child and family, child welfare, anti-poverty, and social policy

Expected graduation date
2022 

Why the La Follette School?
I liked the small size of the La Follette School (LFS) student body, it creates a nice student community and small class sizes. LFS also offers a lot of flexibility for students interested in double degrees, which was necessary for me to pursue a double degree with social work!

When deciding between programs, I was also very encouraged to hear how many students at LFS were able to find assistantships (PA, RA, and TA) to both gain professional experience AND serve as a significant financial support. Assistantships can offer tuition remission, health insurance, and a stipend. No other university or program I considered offered that sort of financial opportunity. I went into LFS hoping to maintain an assistantship for all three years of grad school and that proved to be very doable, especially with help from LFS staff.

Career goals
I hope to have an impactful career using policy and research to improve the lives of children and families involved in welfare and custodial systems. I am open to work in government, nonprofit, and research sectors. 

Assistantships
I spent a year and half working as a project assistant for the La Follette School’s legislative outreach team. I primarily supported their work on the Wisconsin Family Impact Seminars, annual seminars that promote state policymakers’ use of research when making decisions that impact Wisconsin families. Through that work, I gained practice translating research, in social policy and many other fields, into useful, accessible materials for policymakers.

I am now a research assistant at the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP), also at UW-Madison. Through that work, I have gained qualitative and quantitative research experience through examining how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted child support practice and family outcomes in Wisconsin. Through this work, I have interviewed stakeholders, analyzed state administrative data, co-authored academic manuscripts and reports for the WI Department of Children and Families, and presented findings at academic conferences (Society for Social Work and Research and Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management).

Both assistantships have been incredible professional and learning experiences. They have deepened my knowledge of child and family policy issues, allowed me to hone analysis and communication skills, and connected me to wonderful mentors.

Advice for prospective La Follette School students

Madison, WI is a great city for grad students. It’s a nice size, with plenty to do outside of work and school, but small enough that you can walk and bike almost anywhere. Take some study breaks to walk in the many nice parks, bike through the Arboretum and on the great network of bike paths, and explore the Lakeshore Preserve. Also, engage with your fellow Bobs! The student association, LSSA, puts on lots of social and volunteer events that can a great way to make friends.

Before the La Follette School
I worked for two years as a paralegal at the nonprofit Children’s Rights, where I supported class action lawsuits on behalf of children in foster care and other custodial systems and conducted policy analysis on child welfare issue areas. 

La Follette School Student Association involvement
I was the LSSA social co-coordinator for my first two years at LFS. In that role I helped plan many social events for the study body, like apple picking, weekly happy hours, and (once the pandemic began) socially distanced or virtual events. Participating in LSSA was a great way to meet peers and feel more connected to LFS, especially during the pandemic.