The Week of the Young Child® is an annual celebration by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. It highlights the needs of young children and their families and recognizes the early childhood educators and programs who serve them. The National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) funds research focused on improving intervention services for young children with or at risk for disabilities by building provider and family capacity. Below is a sample of current projects focused on a range of supports for educators, providers, and families with the aim of improving outcomes for young children.
Supporting Early Interventionists to Build Family Capacity for Toddlers with Autism
At Indiana University and Georgia State University, Drs. Hannah Schertz and Kathleen Baggett are developing and testing a framework, Supporting Early Interventionists of Toddlers with Autism to Build Family Capacity, designed to work within the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Part C early intervention system. This framework serves as a mediated intervention process in which the early intervention providers work directly with caregivers (such as parents), who then work directly with their own children. More specifically, it is intended to help providers support caregivers in delivering social communication interventions to toddlers with or at risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), focusing on the identified area of need for each child. The framework works within existing service delivery systems to enhance family capacity and integrate interventions into natural environments for toddlers with ASD. The investigators are currently conducting a pilot study to determine the promise of efficacy of the framework on provider practices with caregivers, caregiver practices with their toddlers, and toddler social-communication skills.
Tools for Families
At the University of Florida, Drs. Crystal Bishop, Brian Reichow, Patricia Snyder, and James Algina are creating a professional development intervention and toolkit to support preschool teacher and family use of embedded instruction for early learning (EIEL), the intentional teaching of individual child learning goals within the context of routine activities. In previous IES-funded projects, the team developed and tested Tools for Teachers to support preschool teacher use of EIEL in the classroom setting. The research team is now developing Tools for Families to increase family engagement in EIEL across school and home settings. The goal of Tools for Families is to enhance family self-efficacy in the use of EIEL practices with their children and to improve children’s adaptive and school readiness skills. The research team is currently in the initial stages of the project and plans to pilot test the intervention after the iterative development phase is complete.
Integrated Behavior Support and Teacher Coaching System for Early Childhood Settings
At the University of Washington, Drs. Scott Spaulding and Kathleen Meeker are adapting a web-based application, Integrating Behavior Support and Team Technology (ibestt), originally designed for use in K-8, for early childhood contexts (ibestt-ec). These interventions aim to promote the individualized behavior support process from the point of initial teacher concern through intervention implementation and progress monitoring. Ibestt-ec is specifically designed to improve early childhood educators’ implementation of function-based supports for young children with or at risk for emotional or behavioral disorders. It includes professional development in the use of the application, function-based supports, and practice-based coaching; a behavior coaching tool to document teacher-coach activities; and a virtual family notebook to facilitate home-school communication. Currently ibestt-ec is undergoing field testing to examine usability and feasibility, and setting the stage for conducting a pilot study to evaluate the promise of the intervention on coach and teacher practices and child outcomes.
IES is committed to research on interventions aimed at supporting the providers and families of young children with or at risk for disabilities. We celebrate the work of the researchers, providers, and families of these children.
This blog was written by Alice Bravo, virtual intern for IES and doctoral candidate in special education at the University of Washington, and Amy Sussman, program officer for NCSER’s Early Intervention and Early Learning program.