Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Improved Collaboration Between IDEA Part C and Child Welfare

Do you work with children who are also served by Child Welfare agencies? What have your experiences been collaborating with the child welfare system?

Here is a FREE webinar from the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) Protection & Well-Being Special Interest Group, in collaboration with the Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) Center:

"Promising Referral Practices: Improved Collaboration between IDEA Part C and Child Welfare"

March 7, 2018 - 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM EST

Register HERE

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

New Learning Decks!

TOMORROW: Storybook Reading is Fun: Teaching Parents to Facilitate Social-Communication Skills for Their Children with Disabilities

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018, 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM EST

COMING SOON: Grandparents Matter: Strategies for Involving Grandparents in ECSE Settings

Thursday, March 15th, 2018, 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM EST

Hop over to the DEC website to register!

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Day In The Life Of... Sharon Stone, Quality Assurance Specialist

We're back with our second post of our "A Day In The Life Of... " series. Let's welcome Sharon Stone, Quality Assurance Specialist. Take it away, Sharon!

1.     Name:  Sharon Stone

2.     Role/position:  Quality Assurance Specialist at the Texas Department of Health and Human Services Early Childhood Intervention state office

3.     Length of time in role or position: I’ve been in my current position nearly five years, but have worked at the ECI state office for over ten years.  Prior to that, I worked in the EI field as an Early Intervention Specialist and Social Worker for seven years.  I am also the mother of a 21-year-old daughter who received EI services as a toddler.

4.     Location:  Austin, Texas

5.     What brought you to the field of Early Intervention:  I have spent most of my professional life working with people with disabilities.  My first job out of college was at a state school for people with intellectual disabilities. On my campus, there was also a program for infants and toddlers.  I used to love to see the little ones coming in and I realized many of the adults and older teenagers I was working with might have been able to live more independently. That experience led to me to seek a career in EI as soon as I had the opportunity.

6.     Describe a typical work day:  There really isn’t a typical day.  My primary role is working with two other members of the state QA team to assess the services provided by the agencies the state of Texas contracts with to provide EI services. This happens through record reviews, observing services and meeting with agency staff to learn about their training, supervision and oversight processes. Every quarter, the QA team reviews program data related to quality services to complete a risk assessment, and select the programs we will review the next quarter.  We review approximately one program per month. The review consists of a program self-assessment, a review of twenty records (ten of children who are enrolled in services, ten of children who were evaluated, but did not enroll), and observations of as many services as possible in a two-day period, including therapy and Specialized Skills Training (what Specialized Instruction is called in Texas), evaluations, and Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) meetings. These observations are my favorite part of the job, as they keep me connected to the mission of serving kids and families.  Following the review, we complete a comprehensive report identifying program strengths and areas for improvement, and recommending strategies and technical assistance to help the program address identified needs. Another aspect of my role as a QA specialist is using my time meeting with EI program staff to identify concerns that might be systemic, rather than specific to one program.  The QA team often works with our state training and technical assistance team to develop products that help our contract agencies and their staff provide high quality services as efficiently as possible.  We also work with staff who develop policy to identify particular policies or changes in policy that might lead to better or more efficient services.

7.     Successes you’ve experienced in the field:  Because I have been involved in EI as both a direct service provider and a parent, I try to bring those experiences to my work at the state office.  I believe I’ve been able to help some of my coworkers without those experiences understand how what we do at the state office directly impacts kids and families, as well as service providers. 

I’m proud to say that almost all of the feedback we’ve received from our contract agencies about the QA process has been very positive.  Programs find the information we provide helpful, and like that we offer concrete, practical solutions.  Our providers are proud of the work they do and are glad that the state is observing their work rather than just relying on data and paperwork to assess how they are doing.

8.     Concerns or challenges you’ve experienced in the field: My biggest concern is related to funding of therapy services for children and toddlers.  Another concern is helping physicians and other medical professionals understand how EI services in Texas are all about helping parents learn to provide intervention in the course of daily activities, rather than more traditional hands-on therapy.  Finally, I would love to see therapy education programs offer more training on this model of service delivery and on early childhood.

9.     Here's a link to the DEC Recommended Practices: http://www.dec-sped.org/dec-recommended-practices . Please describe how you have used a Recommended Practice/s with young children and/or families.

The Texas ECI QA team frequently recommends the DEC Recommended Practices to programs during our reviews, particularly those related to engaging families and teaming.

10.  How have you used any other DEC resource to guide your work?  I often reflect on DEC’s Promoting Positive Outcomes for Children with Disabilities when evaluating individual programs and thinking about our statewide system.  I want to make sure our focus stays on the ultimate assessment of success:  Are children with disabilities and developmental delays getting the best start they can, and do parents feel competent and confident in their abilities to help their children?

11.  Any EI-related question you would like to pose to the DEC EI SIG community?  I would love to hear how other states approach quality assurance, and I would also like to know what data about quality indicators other states collect.

Thank you Sharon, for sharing information with us! 

 Please comment below to respond to Sharon's question on how other states approach quality assurance.

Friday, February 2, 2018

New Book on Early Social-Emotional Development

Exciting news! 

Please join me in congratulating my EI SIG co-leader Nicole Edwards for the publication of her book:

Early Social-Emotional Development: Your Guide to Promoting Children's Positive Behavior, available this June!

Preview the contents on the Brookes Publishing website HERE

You may also pre-order on Amazon.

Congratulations, Nicole!

Telepractice Resources

Many DEC Early Intervention Community of Practice (CoP) members have asked for telepractice resources as temporary changes in how we provide...