Posted: Sep 15, 2022

Senior Research Associate (Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population)

The Urban Institute - Washington, DC
Application Deadline: N/A

About Urban Institute:

At the Urban Institute, we believe in the power of evidence to improve lives and strengthen communities. As a nonprofit focusing on social and economic policy, our researchers and policy entrepreneurs open minds, shape decisions, and identify transformative solutions to the most pressing issues of our time.

Within the Urban Institute, the Center on Labor, Human Services and Population (LHP) conducts research that informs and evaluates policies and programs that affect the well-being of children, youth, families and individuals. LHP’s diverse group of policy researchers use a wide-ranging set of disciplinary and methodological expertise used to study the effects of programs, social policies, and the labor market on the well-being of families and individuals, with a special focus on understanding outcomes for vulnerable populations and historically underserved or disadvantaged groups. 

Our Mission

To open minds, shape decisions, and offer solutions through economic and social policy research.

Our Values

Collaboration, Equity, Inclusivity, Independence, and Integrity

For more information on the Urban Institute, please visit

The Opportunity:

The Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population is seeking a full-time senior research associate who will be responsible for helping lead and manage research related to child care and early education policies and programs. Areas of study include child care quality, access, and consumer education; the child care subsidy system; Head Start and Early Head Start; and public prekindergarten. The position will also contribute to projects that examine disparities in access and disproportionate outcomes for historically disadvantaged groups along with systemic solutions.

The ideal candidate will bring subject matter expertise in one or more of these areas and a solid track record of studying child care and early education programs. This position will be expected to support ongoing work, contribute to business development to further build the early childhood research portfolio, and serve as project director, principal investigator, or task lead for future studies.

What You’ll Do:

  • Conceptualize, develop, and lead research and evaluation studies related to early childhood programs and provide intellectual leadership in project development.

  • Play a key role in the development of proposals, responses to solicitations, and other meaningful business cultivation activities. This includes leading proposal efforts and managing proposal teams, as well as possessing the skills and qualifications crucial to the performance of proposed work.

  • Manage overall project teams, including assigning roles and responsibilities; managing project team performance; monitoring project progress, budget, and schedule; and designing and implementing strategies to successfully complete project tasks.

  • Directly supervise one or more junior staff.

  • Design and lead analyses of quantitative data using statistical analysis software (e.g., Stata, R, SAS) and/or qualitative data drawing out key themes using qualitative data software (e.g., NVivo).

  • Lead the development and administration of surveys and questionnaires and efforts to prepare materials (i.e., recruitment and data collection protocols and instruments) and collect qualitative data through site visits and phone data collection.

  • Lead the development and publication of research reports, briefs, and presentations for external audiences.

  • Represent both Urban and the policy center’s work to the public, policymakers, funders, and the press.

Who You Are:

The successful candidate will:

  • Possess a PhD in human development, developmental psychology, family studies, public policy, social work, education, economics, sociology, or related social science field as well as 5-10 years of related professional experience, or equivalent combination of education and experience.

  • Serve as an expert on early childhood research and exhibit high-level oral and written communication skills. Lived experience working in child care and early education or public agencies responsible for administering the sector is welcomed but not required.

  • Possess the relevant substantive knowledge, a solid understanding of various research methods and quantitative and qualitative analytic approaches, and the writing skills needed to perform the duties described above.

  • Have demonstrated ability in leading and contributing to research agendas and successful business development efforts. Experience with federal proposal writing is preferred but not required.

  • Display strong management skills including management experience with complex projects, supervising staff, and managing project teams to achieve desired outcomes. Experience with federal contracts is preferred but not required.

  • Respect diverse perspectives and value collaborating with colleagues to create a mutually respectful work environment.

What You’ll Experience:

No matter your role with Urban, you will contribute to meaningful work that makes a difference for people and communities across the country. And whether you call the Washington, DC area or elsewhere home, you can expect to be part of a welcoming and hybrid workplace. We are committed to cultivating a community and working in a manner defined by collaboration, equity, inclusivity, independence, and integrity.

Urban’s greatest asset is our people.

Urban is committed to supporting our staff’s physical, emotional, and financial well-being through a robust benefits package for yourself, eligible dependents, and domestic partners. It includes generous paid time off, including nine federal holidays, medical (including prescription), dental and vision insurance, and transit benefits. Urban is unique in that we offer 403(b) retirement plan participation immediately after you’re hired and a generous employer contribution after five months of service and 1,000 hours, with immediate vesting. You’ll also have access to a health advocate, personal finance coaching, an Employee Assistance Program, and educational assistance for undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

As a federal contractor, Urban will comply with Executive Order (EO) 14042 that requires federal contractors, subcontractors, and their respective employees to comply with COVID-19 vaccinations. All Urban Institute employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 18, 2022, and comply with masking and distancing requirements, regardless of responsibilities or work location. New hires must also be fully vaccinated before starting work.  Employees may request exemption from vaccination against COVID-19 based on either a medical condition or a sincerely held religious belief that prevents them from being vaccinated.  Where such an exemption is approved, Urban will discuss with each employee potential accommodation.

The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of the work being performed by the people assigned. This posting is not an exhaustive list of all duties, responsibilities, and requirements. Urban management reserves the right to amend and change duties, responsibilities, and requirements to meet business and organizational needs as necessary.

The Urban Institute is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace. All qualified candidates will receive consideration without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, gender or gender identity, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, veteran status, pregnancy or family responsibilities, matriculation, disability, political affiliation, or any other protected status under applicable law.

We are committed to equal employment opportunity and providing reasonable accommodations to applicants with physical and/or mental disabilities. If you have a physical and/or mental disability and are interested in applying for employment and need special accommodations to use our website to apply for a position, please contact Human Resources at [email protected]. Reasonable accommodation requests are considered on a case-by-case basis.