Internship Opens Eyes to Needed System Reform

August 15, 2018 | Rachel Polivka

Father holding baby

Being a research intern for NCCD has been a great experience thus far, giving me a new perspective of the systems that serve people in our society. Most projects I have worked on have dealt with the child welfare system and the programs and curricula that are in place to reform it. The Structured Decision Making® (SDM) system, for example, is a research-based assessment model developed by NCCD that assists agencies and social workers in meeting their goals to promote the ongoing safety and well-being of children. It is with holistic tools such as this that we can change the way our society handles child welfare for the better. 

Joining the NCCD research team has opened my eyes not only to how corrupt and unjust our child welfare system is, but also to the numerous ways we can effectively improve it. Instead of focusing on what is wrong with children and their families, we need to start focusing on what is right and build on that. Taking a strengths-based, rehabilitative approach to child welfare has time and time again proven to be more effective than punitive measures. 

Holistic means can be implemented in other fields as well, such as criminal and juvenile justice. There is a plethora of convincing evidence that proves punitive actions are ineffective in curbing crime and causes further damage to those involved. The research done by NCCD brings awareness to our flawed social systems and seeks to deepen the understanding of what truly makes a system just.

I have developed a true love and appreciation for the work that is done at NCCD and the message we stand for: promoting social systems based on the principles of equality and fairness, which value human rights and the dignity of every human being. I would highly recommend working here to anyone who has a passion for justice and a desire to catalyze change.

Rachel PolivkaRachel Polivka has been an intern at NCCD since February 2018. She recently graduated from San Francisco State University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in criminal justice. As a student, Rachel was a research assistant in two labs: one focusing on the correlation between childhood trauma and specific juvenile charges; the other looking at how hedonic adaptation influences our purchasing habits.