As we prepare to send this issue to press, the country awaits the election of a president. Countless state and local elections are also being held. There is much at stake as the country is in the midst of an economic recovery that could be marked by the implementation of a sequestration in our budget. This is result of the fact that Congress was not able to agree on a solution to our growing budget crisis. A budget sequestration will mandate federal funding reductions totaling $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. Congress has until January 3, 2013, to remedy this situation, or the budget cuts will begin across all federal programs. Our concern is always about what these cuts will mean to our most needy population, including infants and young children who are at risk for or have delays in development. Although both presidential candidates have stated their opposition to the automatic sequestration, neither has offered a solution to how this will happen. By the time you read this issue, whoever is elected president will be in the position to help or hurt the field of early childhood intervention (ECI).
No matter the outcome of the November election, the field of ECI will continue to require competent personnel to implement evidence-based practices that result in measurable outcomes for young children with delays or disabilities and their families. Currently, ECI providers are facing enormous challenges due to the diversity of needs of young children being served and the inequities in preparation and compensation among those providing services. To address the growing needs of the ECI workforce, the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, has funded the Early Childhood Personnel Center at the University of Connecticut to (1) serve as a national resource on personnel standards, competencies, and recommended practices for personnel providing services to infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families; (2) assist states in aligning their personnel standards to national professional organization standards for all personnel providing services to infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families, aligning or integrating those standards with standards for early childhood personnel of all children, and linking those standards to state competencies and certification or licensure requirements; (3) assist state agencies and Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) in developing partnerships with each other to support alignment between preservice and in-service training for all personnel providing services to infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families; and (4) assist states in developing integrated early childhood professional development systems (in alignment with the vision outlined in RTT-ELC) to ensure that IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) Part C and Part B preschool programs and personnel in each state are included within the state's professional development initiatives, and that all early childhood personnel have the competencies to effectively serve infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families. The framework through which these tasks will be accomplished integrates such themes as outcomes and accountability, personnel standards, evidence-based practice, and technology.
The center will utilize a regional approach to technical assistance using implementation science and scaling up practices to develop, implement, and evaluate its activities. The project will be administered through the University of Connecticut and regional sites at Florida State University, the University of Kansas, and the University of Oregon. In addition, the center will have additional sites at Georgetown University, the University of Colorado, the University of Hawaii, Puckett Institute, and the Division of Early Childhood of the Council of Exceptional Children.
I am pleased that I will be able to bring to the readers of Infants & Young Children the center's progress and accomplishments over the next 5 years as we strive to provide optimum and preservice training and professional development opportunities to the early childhood workforce.
We begin this issue with a continuation of the description of ECI in countries around the world through articles submitted for our special international issue. We asked all who responded and were subsequently accepted for this issue to describe ECI using the framework and components of Michael Guralnick's Developmental Systems Approach (DSA), which is illustrated on the next page. The two articles in this issue represent two very different counties around the world from each other: China and Ireland. Although both are in the midst of developing a systems approach to intervention for their youngest citizens, each differs with regard to geopolitical history and subsequent policies and practices applied to young children with disabilities and/or developmental delays.
First, Xiaoyi Hu and Xijie Yang describe the complex status and the history of ECI services in Mainland China. Such services have experienced significant growth since 1978, which began a period in their country's history known as Reform and Opening. Their article describes the current situation of ECI practices in Mainland China.
Second, Clare Carroll, Geraldine Murphy, and Jane Sixsmith present a description of a much smaller country's approach for infants and young children with disabilities. The Republic of Ireland has a population of 4.6 million compared to China's last estimate of a population of 1.34735 billion people. Although the Irish Government funds ECI through the Irish health services, education and disability legislation have developed in parallel through the adoption of a rights-based approach for services. Both of these international articles illustrate the adoption of service components represented in the DSA, and both sets of authors reflect on the future of such an approach in their country.
The remainder of this journal issue contains four articles beginning with a description of a study on ECI by Christine Salisbury and Lisa Cushing. This study compared the actions of providers and caregivers within triadic and provider-led interventions on a variety of variables: the lead in the intervention; the intervention practices used; and the focus of the intervention. Seventeen caregivers of infants/toddlers with identified disabilities and their early intervention providers (n = 6) were randomly assigned to either the triadic or provider-led condition. A total of 71 home visit sessions were videotaped over 4 months and analyzed using a protocol that assessed 11 intervention variables that occurred at the home visit. Results of the analyses revealed significant differences between triadic and provider-led sessions, leading the authors to conclude with recommendations for future intervention research and practice.
Varsha Shrikant Gathoo and Kasturi Kulkarni describe a study from India that investigated whether differences in literacy skills exist between children with and without hearing loss prior to the beginning of school. Although inclusive education is becoming the norm in India, concerns have arisen as to whether this model is in the best interest of children who are deaf and hard of hearing. The authors examined the status of literacy skills in thirty-four 5- and 6-year-olds with and without hearing loss in India, using the Test of School Readiness. Results indicated that the children with hearing loss performed similarly to children with normal hearing on non–script-related items; however, they lagged behind on script-related items. The authors present recommendations for policy and practice for preschool education for children with hearing loss in India.
Collaboration among agencies, service providers, and families has been long identified as a factor in effective ECI. Chih-Hung Yang, Syeda Zakia Hossain, and Gomathi Sitharthan from Australia examined early childhood interventionists' perceptions of their experiences in collaborative practices. A survey was implemented with 75 service providers, and the findings suggested that the reported value of working with families was a significant predictor of service providers' satisfaction with provider–family collaboration, interagency collaboration, and their own time devoted to collaborative practice. The authors provide further recommendations for collaborative ECI practice.
Finally, Angela Tomlin, Steven Koch, Christine Raches, Noha Minshawi, and Naomi Swiezy present a study that examined practices in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) screening among early intervention and care providers in Indiana. The survey examined such screening practices within the context of overall screening of young children for developmental delays. The results indicated that providers conducted ASD screening less often than developmental screening, do not use formal screening tools when doing so, and feel unprepared to talk with families about concerns related to ASD. These providers also reported that they feel inadequately prepared to perform ASD screening. The authors provide a solution to remedy this situation through the provision of training for service providers on screening and communication strategies to use with families.
I want to thank the authors for their contributions to Infants and Young Children and the reviewers who assisted in the manuscript review process. I am pleased that this issue includes submissions from our international colleagues, the AUCD network, and new authors.
—Mary Beth Bruder, PhD