Happy Spring! Since the 1980’s interdisciplinary personnel preparation models have been identified as unique and necessary for effective early childhood intervention. However, we are still grappling with the operationalization, implementation and sustainability of both preservice and inservice learning opportunities that cross disciplines, are competency based and are measured for efficacy across infants, young children and families. In the last IYC issue I stated that I would be adding a focus on articles about effective ECI personnel preparation and continuing education models. I am pleased to offer 4 articles in this issue that were written specifically to enhance knowledge in this area.
The Early Childhood Personnel Technical Assistance Center( ECPC) was funded by the Office of Special Education, U.S. Department of Education, to assist states to develop integrated and comprehensive systems of personnel development across all disciplines and sectors that serve children( age birth to 5) with disabilities and their families. One of the objectives of the ECPC is to bring together national professional organizations to facilitate the development of a set of unified personnel standards that can be used across states, and institutions of higher education preparing personnel to serve infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families.
Thus far, two national meetings of professional organizations has occurred to address this objective. The results to date are described by four of these organizations and these constitute the first four articles of this issue. The organizations are: the Division of Early Childhood, Council for Exceptional Children; the American Occupational Therapy Association; the American Physical Therapy Association; and the American Speech- Language-Hearing Association. The first activity undertaken by these organizations was to identify the unique role and competencies each discipline contributes to early childhood intervention, and to identify overlapping roles and competency areas that cross disciplines. I am pleased to have such important work to offer the readers of IYC.
Our first article by Vicki Stayton addresses the use of personnel standards to guide both preservice and inservice training opportunities for early childhood special educators who provide early childhood intervention services. She describes the initial and advanced personnel standards developed by The Council of Exceptional Children (CEC) to accredit college and university preparation programs for special educators. She also describes the initial and advanced specialty standards developed by the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) of CEC to guide early childhood special education preservice and inservice programs. The article then highlights the personnel standards developed by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and other professional associations (e.g. AOTA, APTA, and ASHA). The article concludes with the recommendation to align personnel standards across professional disciplines in early childhood intervention so that infants and young children and their families can be served most effectively within the inclusionary and interdisciplinary service delivery models that prevail today.
Our next article provides an overview of occupational therapy’s (OT) unique contribution to early childhood intervention. Mary Muhlenhaupt, Kris Pizur-Barnekow, Sandra Schefkind, Barbara Chandler, and Neil Harvison describe the OT’s role in early childhood intervention to enhance a family’s care-giving capacity to increase their young child’s participation in home and community settings. The authors’ describe both the discipline-specific competencies and the shared competencies ( across disciplines) that OTs learn to prepare them to be members of service delivery teams in early childhood intervention. Recommendations for entry-level and continuing professional and inter-professional education for both discipline specific and cross disciplinary competencies are provided.
The third personnel preparation article describes the professional development of pediatric physical therapists (PTs). Tricia Catalino, Lisa A. Chiarello, Toby Long, and Priscilla Weaver highlight the unique knowledge and skills that pediatric PTs offer to the early childhood intervention team as movement specialists. They also provide an overview of PT licensure requirements and personnel competencies. The unique challenges of providing PT services in natural environments is discussed, as are recommendations for future personnel preparation activities in PT to include mentorships and interdisciplinary team based learning opportunities.
Patricia A. Prelock and Janet Deppe next describe the role of the speech-language pathologist (SLP) in early childhood intervention, including the knowledge and skills required to practice as an SLP. Preservice education with a specialty focus in early childhood intervention is limited, as SLPs (as other related service disciplines) are prepared to practice across the lifespan. As an alternative, interprofessional education (IPE) opportunities at both a preservice and inservice level are recommended to address the needs of SLPs and other disciplines to best serve the needs of infants, young children and their families. Several resource documents from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) are shared for use as guidelines in early childhood intervention.
The next article by Tamie Aubin and Patricia Mortenson highlights the unique challenges of using a service delivery team approach in early childhood intervention. Although a transdisciplinary approach of sharing and collaborating across disciplines and interventions for infants and young children and families is considered best practice, there is limited information for professionals on how to successfully move into such a service model. The authors conducted a qualitative study using in-depth interviews with six service providers and managers who took part in the implementation of two transdisciplinary teams. Three main themes were identified across the interviews: the importance of staying true to organization values during the change process, ensuring participants’ awareness of the change process, and using the change process to highlight continued learning while developing new team structures.
Our last article by Marisa Macy, Stephen J. Bagnato, Robert S. Macy, and Jen Salaway is a research synthesis of the literature on the most frequently used conventional tests in early childhood intervention. Forty-four studies were identified, allowing the authors to explore the assessments’ technical adequacy related specifically to early childhood intervention eligibility determination. In addition, early childhood professional standards for developmentally-appropriate assessment were applied to the assessments to determine their fit with early childhood intervention philosophy, purpose, and practices. The results of these analyses suggest the limitations of these conventional tests for the purpose of early intervention eligibility determination. Implications for professional practice in early childhood assessment and eligibility determination are described.
I want to thank the authors of these articles for choosing to submit their work to IYC, as well as the members of the editorial board who reviewed the manuscripts and provided feedback to the authors. I especially want to thank the professional organizations for their contributions to this issue as well as their continuing commitment to the field of early childhood intervention and the work of the ECPC. The Division of Early Childhood, Council for Exceptional Children, the American Occupational Therapy Association, the American Physical Therapy Association, and the American Speech- Language-Hearing Association continue to maintain high standards for their members as they serve infants, children and their families. I also want to acknowledge our continued commitment to publishing authors from countries outside of the U.S. and from the AUCD network.
Lastly, I want to alert the readers to an upcoming announcement about a special IYC issue in collaboration with our colleagues from the International Society of Early Intervention. To follow up on our last international issue on Early Childhood Intervention across the world, we will be soliciting manuscripts on preschool inclusion across the world for publication in 2016.