USDOE Award # H325N110014. Federally-funded by OSEP 4 year project beginning in January, 2012 Designed to assist community college faculty who want to enhance their early childhood curriculum to better prepare associate-degreed teachers to work with young children with diverse abilities.
Laurie Dinnebeil and Bill McInerney - Co-PIs
Lyn Hale - Project Manager
Stacey Pistorova—Terra EC Faculty Liaison
Camille Catlett—Project Consultant – UNC - Chapel Hill
Sheila Doles—Website Developer
Gwen Weber—Graduate Assistant
Research consistently points to the teacher as the most important and effective component of a high quality early childhood (EC) program (Early et al., 2006; Pianta, Barnett, Burchinal, & Thornburg, 2009; Vu, Jeon, & Howes, 2008; Whitebook, Gomby, Bellm, Sakai, & Kipnis,2009; Whitebook, Howes, & Phillips, 1989).
ALL young children need well-trained teachers, but perhaps young children with disabilities need them most of all.
While research has identified many benefits of inclusive education, inclusive education can only be beneficial if the teachers who provide it have the knowledge, skills, and training they need to be effective.
In 2010, 23,209 preschool-aged children (5.3% of all preschoolers in Ohio) received special education services in Ohio and close to a third of them spend 80% or more of their time in regular early childhood programs (www.ideadata.org). Slightly over 2,000 additional children (5.3% more), spent between 40 and 79% of their time in early childhood programs.
There are an additional 11,368 children with special needs between the ages of birth to six years who would potentially need child care (based on NACCRA data)
A survey of Ohio’s Child Care Resource and Referral Associations (OCCRA) data (available from 8 of 11 Service Delivery Areas, representing 72 of 88 counties in Ohio) indicates that in 2010, 348 families across Ohio inquired about child care availability for their children with special needs.
If we assume a maximum of 3 children with special needs are included in each EC classroom of 15 children, the state of Ohio would need 2,473 community-based early childhood teachers who can to work effectively with young children who have disabilities.
A study conducted by Chang, Early, and Winton (2005) point to some disturbing trends that indicate that more than 65% of Associate Degree ECE programs do NOT offer any course that is focused specifically on meeting the needs of young children with disabilities.
In addition, less than 50% of Associate Degree programs in ECE offer a course specific to working with families of young children. Less than 11% offer a course specific to collaboration with other professionals.
Finally, only 36% of the Associate Degree ECE programs surveyed required students to complete a practicum that provided hands on experience with children who have special needs.
It’s no wonder that some ECE teachers feel ill-prepared to work with young children who have special needs—many ARE ill-prepared.
An intensive curriculum enhancement/revision process for three community colleges in Ohio:
Provision of high quality professional development (PD) to EC area faculty members at these institutions in order to enhance their knowledge and skills related to working with young children who have disabilities and their families.
Support to these three institutions to identify and enhance appropriate practicum sites for students enrolled in two-year ECE programs; including access to resources that will enhance the ability of cooperating EC teachers to work effectively with preservice teachers.
Increasing the knowledge and skills of ALL EC community college faculty members in Ohio through:
A year-long curriculum revision process followed by a year-long implementation and evaluation period,
PD webinars based on community college EC faculty members’ needs as identified via a Needs Assessment Questionnaire
Work with teachers at inclusive community-based early childhood programs that could serve as model practicum sites
Let’s get to work!