Consensus is defined as a general agreement about something; an idea or opinion that is shared by all the people in a group. It is one of the most challenging of goals to achieve, even among like-minded people. This was most recently illustrated during the past presidential election.
Roger Fisher and William Ury from the Harvard Negotiation Project have addressed the challenges of reaching consensus through their series of books on the process of negotiation and compromise. These books contain examples and illustrations of strategies that are effective when trying to build consensus among people, or groups of people. One of the most important of these strategies is the need for both groups to identify a shared value base.
The Early Childhood Personnel Technical Assistance Center (funded by the Office of Special Education, U.S. Department of Education) has been building consensus among seven professional organizations that represent the professional workforce in early childhood intervention. Representatives from these organizations have been meeting over the past 4 years to identify a set of shared knowledge and skill competencies for all personnel who serve infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families. This work was defined by a shared set of values about the population who we all serve.
The organizations that have been participating in these meetings include the American Occupational Therapy Association, the American Physical Therapy Association, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the Council for Exceptional Children, the Division for Early Childhood, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and Zero to Three.
Four competency areas were identified by the group after an alignment of each discipline's personnel competencies was completed. These competency areas are: family-centered care; coordination and collaboration; intervention/instruction as informed by evidence; and professionalism.
As we begin the 30th year of Infants & Young Children (IYC), I am pleased to be able to present these competency areas to further emphasize and the interdisciplinary foundation of this journal and guide us over the next 30 years of publication.
Unfortunately, our world is facing a health crisis that is affecting the development of infants. Pregnant mothers who are bitten by a mosquito carrying the Zika virus can pass the virus on to their unborn child. The virus can impact the child's development in utero, most notably by causing neurological damage. Our first article, written by Sallie Porter and Nancy Mimm, provides a timely overview of what we know about the virus today; both epidemiology and implications for treatment. Specific clinical, research, and policy recommendations about the care of infants who are affected by the virus are discussed, and guidance is provided to early childhood intervention professionals.
Our second article by Batya Elbaum, Seniz Celimli-Askoy, Jennifer Marshall, and Michelle Berkovits focuses on infant and toddler access to a statewide early intervention program under Part C of IDEA. The study examined data from the Part C program in one state before and after the state adopted more restrictive eligibility criteria for those children entering the program. The implementation of the policy change as it effected the type and timing of children who were enrolled in early intervention is presented, and the implications of these results are discussed.
Our third article by Diane Branson and Ann Bingham also addresses the entry of eligible children into early childhood intervention programs under IDEA. This qualitative study used interview methodology with nine child care providers to identify and describe variables that affected providers' referral of eligible children for further developmental evaluation. During the interviews, the providers were asked how they judged children's development and what they did if they had concerns. Both the barriers that impeded this process and facilitators that assisted the process are discussed. Recommendations to improve the referral process for young children in child care who are in need of a developmental evaluation are provided.
Christan Coogle, Jennifer Ottley, Sloan Storie, Amy Burt, and Naomi next describe a study that examined the use of a an e-training strategy (Bug-in-ear) to improve a preschool teacher's skills to impact child outcomes. A single-subject, multiple-baseline design was used to measure the effect of eCoaching on a teacher's use of embedded learning activities with preschool-aged children with autism. The teacher was able to demonstrate acquisition of using embedded learning opportunities using Bug-in-ear technology, children experienced more opportunities to demonstrate responses to targeted embedded learning opportunities, and showed increases in communication behaviors. Implications of the results are discussed in regard to the teaching of teachers to use evidence-based strategies that positively impact child outcomes.
Next, Lisa Boyce, Ryan Seedall, Mark Innocenti, Lori Roggman, Gina Cook, Amanda Hagman, and Vonda Jump Norman studied the effects of a parent activity on parent self-efficacy and child language. Eighty-nine families with toddlers who were enrolled in two Part C of IDEA early intervention programs were randomly assigned to either a treatment group or intervention as usual. Assignment to a group was made through the random assignment of 24 early interventionists who had the participating families on their caseload. The providers in the intervention group were given training on a seven-step process on how to use bookmaking as a strategy to facilitate parent–child interaction and child development. The bookmaking activity occurred at home visits beginning when the toddlers were 24 months of age. A number of child and parent measures were administered prior to the intervention and again after 12 months. After a year, mothers in the intervention group demonstrated reduced signs of depression. This contributed to an increase in parental self-efficacy, which was associated with a reduction in children's social-emotional difficulties and an increase in their language development. Implications for early childhood intervention are discussed.
Our last article by Grace Hubel, Alayna Schreier, Brian Wilcox, Mary Flood, and David Hansen is a descriptive study of family participation and engagement in an Early Head Start home visitation program. Qualitative data on the parents' perspective were collected through semistructured interviews of 10 parents of children who were enrolled in the Early Head Start program. Interviews focused on strategies to improve family engagement. Findings suggested that engagement increased when the program helped families facilitate their child's development, and helped them connect with other families. Barriers to engagement included logistical and organizational challenges, as well as parental biases and differences in values and attitudes. Both practice and policy recommendations are discussed.
As always, I want to thank the authors of the articles in this issue for choosing to submit their manuscripts to IYC. I also thank the reviewers who assisted in the editorial process with these articles. Wishes to all for a happy and productive 2017!
—Mary Beth Bruder, PhD