The U.S. Department of Education has announced a $1.2 million grant to the University of Connecticut Health Center to establish an Early Childhood Personnel Center to serve as a national resource for professionals serving infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families.
According to a news release by the U.S. Department of Education, the Early Childhood Personnel Center will address a need identified in recent studies to strengthen the skills of the early childhood workforce to improve developmental and learning outcomes for the very young with disabilities.
“This is very exciting,” says Mary Beth Bruder, director of the University of Connecticut A.J. Pappanikou Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. “The personnel center will receive $6 million over five years and we have five universities and 12 national organizations working with us.”
Key areas of focus for the center include:
- Assisting states in aligning their personnel standards to national professional organization standards;
- Assisting state agencies and institutions of higher education in developing partnerships with each other to support alignment between preservice and inservice training; and
- Assisting states in developing integrated early childhood professional development systems.
Leadership Grants for Doctoral Students
The U.S. Department of Education also announced more than $3 million in grants to higher education institutions to help prepare graduate students for leadership positions in special education, early intervention and related services.
The Health Center, in collaboration with UConnʼs Neag School of Education and Yale University, will receive $1.25 million over five years for eight interdisciplinary doctoral students in early childhood intervention, according to Bruder.
The grants are meant to help fill a need that has developed in the past 20 years for leadership personnel who are prepared at the doctoral and postdoctoral levels to fill faculty positions in special education, early intervention and related services. Similarly, the grants will also help train scholars to eventually serve as supervisors of personnel providing direct services to infants and children with disabilities.
Ultimately, the funds will help develop a corps of both highly qualified college faculty and future supervisors of personnel providing direct services to infants and children with disabilities.