CCSA Interns and Volunteer Make a Positive Impact During the Pandemic

Eight kids stand in a circle outside holding hands

At Child Care Services Association (CCSA), we lead efforts to strengthen accessible and affordable quality early care and education by providing supports for families, communities and the workforce. Families, communities and the workforce have been struggling in this pandemic, so we opened our doors looking for fresh ideas and new ways to strengthen CCSA’s support.

We often recruit volunteers and hire interns from surrounding colleges, universities and high schools to help drive our goals, better understand our communities and support future leaders. Due to COVID-19, the opportunity to work remotely allowed two interns and one volunteer from across North Carolina to join us this spring and the previous fall semesters.

Katie Bryant

Katie Bryant, CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund Volunteer

Katie Bryant, a junior at J.D. Clement Early College High School in Durham, N.C., has been volunteering with us since September 2020.

“I chose to volunteer with CCSA because I feel that equal access to early care and education is an important foundation towards improving society,” Katie said.

Katie has been analyzing the results of the CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund Phase II and organizing the data into charts. With her help, we are better able to share the many stories of the child care programs that applied in Phase II and relay those stories to our funders.

“From volunteering with CCSA, I learned how the money from the CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund was distributed, the common needs from the child care providers and the communities who most needed help from the CCSA fund,” she said.

Katie shared her plans after graduating. “My plans after high school are to pursue a chemistry degree and art studies, and then go to graduate school for library sciences with a focus on art conservation.”

Dante Spado

Dante Spado, Communications Intern

From Charlotte, N.C., Dante Spado joins us remotely this spring as our communications intern. He is a senior majoring in Advertising and Public Relations at UNC-Chapel Hill.

“Working with children is something I’m fond of, having spent two years working as a swim instructor teaching lessons to kids from ages 3-12,” Dante said. “It was always a joy to see my students learn new skills and progress in lessons to move their way up through the different levels of class difficulty.”

Dante has seen a direct impact of the pandemic on our communities. “As a senior at UNC, I’ve had four years to fall more and more in love with Chapel Hill. The way the pandemic has affected things, such as all of our classes being held online, really was taking a toll on me. It was sad to see businesses I love in the Chapel Hill area struggle. So, when I learned about…CCSA [last fall], it seemed like the perfect opportunity to both help an organization based in North Carolina and the children, families and educators that have been affected by the pandemic.”

He shared, “The passion I have for helping children succeed and the desire I have to make a positive impact during the pandemic, combined with the skills I’ve learned from the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, [have helped me] …share the stories of educators in North Carolina, in addition to spreading awareness about everything CCSA has to offer to those who need it, especially during these difficult times.”

Dante handles many projects in our communications department. He said, “I’ve already learned valuable skills [at CCSA], such as how to leverage social media to send out messages. I’ve also learned so much about child care and the different programs CCSA has established to help families, children and educators. I like spending my time helping an organization with an important goal, and I feel like I’ve made an impact, even if it’s in small ways. The people at CCSA are very friendly, and they’ve made me feel welcome!”

Dante hopes to work for an advertising agency in Charlotte or Raleigh after he graduates this May. “I’d love to work as a junior copywriter and come up with ideas and copy for brands and campaigns,” he said. “I think what I’ve learned at CCSA will help prepare me tremendously!”

Jenna Settlage

Jenna Settlage, Durham PreK Intern

Our second intern for this spring is Jenna Settlage, a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill from Raleigh, N.C., working with our Durham PreK program. She is double majoring in human development and family studies (HDFS) and psychology with a minor in education.

When asked why she applied for this internship, she said, “…because I am passionate about early childhood education (ECE) and assisting families with young children. I understand the importance of high-quality preschool and pre-K, especially as kindergarten standards have become more rigorous. I believe universal early childhood education is a great way to promote equity and level the playing field for children who may not otherwise have access to high-quality care.”

Jenna works on a variety of projects for Durham PreK, including adding content to the Durham PreK website, compiling and organizing data and determining the needs of Durham PreK families. She said, “[This internship] has allowed me to understand and appreciate the vast amount of collaboration that makes Durham PreK possible. Additionally, I strongly believe in the importance of creativity and play in ECE, so it has been interesting to see how Durham PreK’s curriculum and standards promote creativity and play. I have also discovered an interest in community outreach and connecting families with local resources.”

While attending university classes and interning with Durham PreK, Jenna is also a postpartum doula. “I…started supporting my first client a few weeks ago!” she said. “I heard about postpartum doulas in one of my [university] classes and almost immediately signed up for a workshop. It involves supporting families after they’ve brought their new baby home and some baby care, both of which I love.”

Her plans after graduation include moving to Asheville, N.C., where she will continue her work as a postpartum doula. “At some point down the road, I am interested in preschool teaching,” she said. “Although the future is somewhat uncertain, I know for sure that I would like to continue my work supporting families with young children.”

CCSA is fortunate to have such dedicated and passionate interns and volunteers working with us as they contribute a great deal to CCSA’s work. If you are interested in interning or volunteering with CCSA, please contact us today.