Saul D. Alinsky wrote Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals as a guide to nonviolent protest in 1971 at the height of the protest movement against the Vietnam War and other social injustices occurring in our society. I had to read this book as a requirement for a sophomore undergraduate class in my special education program in 1974. The professor categorized the school and community disparities experienced by those with disabilities at that time as social equity issues. The book was used to help us organize advocacy about these issues for our legislators and policy makers.
More recently, these organizational techniques are starting to surface again, with good cause. Groups such as ADAPT, which is a disability rights organization with chapters in 30 states, and the Little Lobbyists, who are a group of very young children with complex medical needs, are taking their social justice causes to federal legislators and policy makers. Most of the advocacy has been focused on proposed cuts to Medicaid and other health, education, and community living programs for children, youth, and adults with disabilities, programs that have demonstrated positive outcomes for more than 40 years.
Those who work with infants and young children must also be vigilant about the proposed state and federal budget cuts to programs designed to positively impact families and their young children. They are large and deep, and will affect many, regardless of income level or state of residence. And, they will compromise the outcomes of early childhood intervention on many levels from quality of life to developmental achievements. Although not advocating civil disobedience or demonstrations, I urge you to exercise your rights as citizens and make your voice heard to protect the rights of our most vulnerable citizens in this era of program and budget eliminations.
Our first three articles focus on the effects families have on the development of their infants. First, J. Kevin Nugent, Jessica Dym Bartlett, Adam Von Ende, and Clarissa Valim describe a study on the Newborn Behavioral Observations (NBO) System (on sensitivity in mother–infant interactions). The NBO is neurobehavioral observation tool designed to help parents understand their infants' behaviors in order to support and strengthen their confidence and competence when caring for them. The study randomly assigned 35 full-term infants and their mothers to either an intervention group or a control group. The intervention consisted of the administration of the NBO while in the hospital after birth and again when the infant was 1 month old at home. At 4 months of age, all mothers and their infants were videotaped during a play episode, and this was scored to measure the type of interactions that occurred. The intervention mothers and their infants were scored higher in sensitivity and cooperation than control group dyads, suggesting the benefits of this brief intervention on the parent–child interactive relationship. Recommendations for the use of the NBO are discussed.
Our second article is about an evaluation of the Ready Steady Grow (RSG) intervention program, which focuses on infant mental health (IMH). Christine O'Farrelly, Judy Lovett, Suzanne Guerin, Orla Doyle, and Gerard Victory describe the implementation of the RSG program in a local community in Ireland. The RSG model builds community capacity through a strength-based approach to facilitating IMH. A mixed-methods design was used in this process evaluation, and data were collected through a survey with service stakeholders from nursing, speech and language, early childhood care and education, social work, family support, physiotherapy, and youth work (n = 40) and semistructured interviews (n = 23). The findings suggested that RSG promoted IMH capacity among these stakeholders by establishing a strong framework for the acquisition of IMH skills, although more training and skill building were identified as necessary for the growth and long-term implementation of the RSG program. The authors conclude with insights into, and recommendations about the sustainability of such capacity-building mental health models, especially when fiscal resources are limited.
Next, Sarah Nathel Douglas, Erica Nordquist, Rebecca Kammes, and Hope Gerde share the results of an intervention for parents of infants and young children with complex communication needs (CNN). The authors used a single-subject multiple-probe design to study the effects of interactive online training with four parents and their children with developmental disabilities and CCN. Parents completed the training and then their skills were measured through live sessions with their children. The parents demonstrated higher levels of communication opportunities with their children, as well as higher levels of responses to their child's communication. Child communication also increased, although results of all outcomes varied among the participants. The authors discuss the parent evaluations of the training, as well as future research needs in this area.
The fourth article addresses the very important construct of leadership in our field of early childhood intervention. Deborah Bruns, Diana LaRocco, Olga Sharp, and Kim Sopko conducted a national Internet-based survey to explore the beliefs of early intervention and early childhood special education (EI/ECSE) providers about competencies considered necessary for effective EI/ECSE leadership. A sample of 820 individuals was recruited from the population of individuals involved in the EI/ECSE service delivery system under the IDEA (Part B-619 and Part C). A factor analysis yielded knowledge and competency areas considered necessary for effective EI/ECSE leadership. The knowledge areas included child development, evidence-based practices, state laws and regulations, family-centered approaches, federal laws and regulations, and group processes. The competency areas included professional learning, effective relationships, shared responsibility, data use, and effective communication. The authors suggest areas for further examination of leadership within the EI/ECSE field.
Finally, Hua-Fang Liao and Pei-Fang Rachel Wu provide a description of early childhood inclusion in Taiwan, which joins the descriptions of inclusion from around the world presented in the Infants & Young Children (IYC) Special Issue: An International Perspective on Early Childhood Inclusion (29:3). Taiwan began experimental inclusive preschool programs in 1989, and the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) and its Children and Youth version (ICF-CY) further influenced views on early childhood inclusion. Currently, Taiwan has a Special Education Act that requires young children with special needs to have individualized educational plans and receive education with their typically developing peers in the general education setting. The article describes this legislation, current early childhood inclusion practices in different forms, relevant research, challenges, and future directions of early childhood inclusion at the governmental, community, institutional, and individual levels in Taiwan.
I wish to thank our authors for contributing to IYC and also our hardworking editorial board. In this issue, we again have international submissions, new authors, and representation from programs from the AUCD network. Happy Fall!
—Mary Beth Bruder, PhD