Cindy Ji interned at CDF-Texas in the summer of 2019. She is currently working on a degree in public affairs at the LBJ School in the University of Texas at Austin.
One year ago, I was a case manager at an eviction prevention program in the South Bronx. My clients rarely faced one problem at a time, instead often finding themselves confronting a web of interconnected crises. They spent their days between waiting rooms at welfare centers and social services programs, waiting in lines at doctor’s offices, and caring for their children. But their problems weren’t unique—they were structural. Which meant they also had structural solutions: solutions rooted in policy. I was determined to find those solutions and advocate for them.
That’s why I started my public affairs degree last fall at the LBJ School, and why I was thrilled to join CDF Texas. I served as the policy intern during the 2019 legislative session, which was both a whirlwind and an honor. I followed hearings, supported coalitions, and helped CDF push great health coverage bills forward from start to finish.
This session, I worked primarily on the Children’s Health Coverage Bill: a simple, intuitive measure that would eliminate red tape, paperwork, and coverage gaps for families with children on Medicaid by removing ineffective and costly monthly income checks. The bill didn’t pass, but it remains a model for the kinds of small structural changes that can have an enormous positive impact on the lives of Texan families.
It’s well known that low-income residents pay more of their income towards their basic needs. But that cost isn’t only financial—it also costs time. That was the beauty of the Children’s Health Coverage Bill: it helped address our state’s severe child uninsured rate while also ensuring that the poorest families in our state don’t need to spend more time maintaining their children’s health coverage than any other Texan. They could spend fewer days in waiting rooms, and more days at work, at school, or with their families.
I’m so grateful to have worked alongside the staff at CDF, who were as deft at contextualizing policy and data as they were at representing the complex lives of the Texans they serve. They made their office into a professional home, with the support, guidance, and determination that is so necessary for this work. They’re a big part of the reason I’m pursuing a career in policy advocacy.
Summer 2019 Intern, CDF-Texas Austin office