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The Juniper Gardens Children's Project was originally conceived in the mid 1960's during the Kennedy administration and continued during the Johnson administration's War on Poverty, and is still in operation today. Citizens of Northeast Kansas City, Kansas joined with faculty members from the University of Kansas' Departments of Special Education, Health Science, Human Development and Family Life, and the Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies in order to address child development concerns within a low-income community (Hall, Schiefelbusch, Hoyt, & Greenwood, 1989).
Families living in deprived urban areas perpetuate a vicious cycle of poverty; from poor rearing practices to inadequate school adjustment usually expressed in the form of academic failures and behavior problems that lead to early school dropouts, delinquent behavior, early pregnancies and/or unstable families. These new families are very soon added to the already staggering number of individuals supported by welfare programs, resulting in a further drain on the community and involving poor prognosis for self-improvement (Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies, Planning Document, July 17, 1964).
In 1996, these shared intentions of the community and the University are still in operation [see Special Issue of the Journal Education and Treatment of Children, 1989, 12(4) devoted to the Juniper Gardens Children's Project]. Today, as in the 1960's, poverty and disability remain barriers to life improvement for too many area citizens. Together, the community and the University have designed programs to intervene and improve the caregiving and special education received by children in this community (Greenwood, Carta, et al., 1992). The initial founders, and those that have since followed, were successful in securing long-term federal funding for a number of research, training, and service grants, all based in the community and conducted with the active participation of the community residents. The disproportionate number of minorities affected by poverty and its association with unemployment, illiteracy, under-education, and poor health remains of great interest today, and new national and local initiatives to improve urban economies, environments, education, and health continue (as reflected in the Empowerment Zone effort of the Clinton Administration) as JGCP researches solutions to these problems.
Among several honors afforded the Project was the invitation to describe the history, contribution, and work of the Juniper Gardens Children's Project within a special issue of the journal, Education and Treatment of Children [1989, Vol. 12(4)], a synthesis of research published in the American Psychologist [1992, 47, 1464-1474], and the 1996 Research Award from the Council for Exceptional Children [Exceptional Children, 1999, 66(1), 7-21].
Since its beginning, the project has concentrated on problems that local citizens (parents, teachers, and community leaders) have defined as major concerns. That JGCP has persisted successfully in the community is testament to the fact that it has produced outcomes meaningful to the community. The effort has also been at the forefront and the crossroads of major developments in the conceptual frameworks, procedures, and practices used in the fields of applied behavior analysis and special education. Many of the early founders and participants at JGCP were pioneering (Hall, Hart, Risley, Whelan, Wolf) in that they demonstrated designs and practices that made measurable differences in the lives of children, particularly when parents and teachers were the interventionors in the home, school, clinic, and community settings. These demonstrations once unique, today are common place, and they are reflected in many aspects of contemporary special education policies and practices including, for example: the Individual Education Plan and Individual Family Service Plans, functional assessment of challenging behavior, environmental assessment, peer-mediated instruction, behavior management, intervention, mainstreaming, integration, and transition, among others.
Specifically, JGCP research efforts have produced the following outcomes along with many others:
In 2010, Juniper Gardens relocated to the top floor of the Children’s Campus of Kansas City building (CCKC), where our research has continued and has spawn off several areas of new research. Our mission remains intact as we promote children’s social competence and academic achievement by improving the quality of their care and educational experiences through evidence-based practices. As one of the three tenant agencies in the CCKC building, we have developed and formed new collaborative partnerships with community agencies, organizations, schools, and individuals to help identify problems and generate solutions. Along with the Family Conservancy and Project EAGLE, we have collaborated to make the Children’s Campus a 1-stop, full facilitative service and resource entity for young children and their families in the urban Kansas City, Kansas area. Juniper’s current and on-going research includes our Kansas Center for Autism (K-CART), promoting language and literacy readiness, using Individual Growth and Development Indicators (IGDIs) assessment measures for the very young, using cellular phones to enhance parenting intervention for at risk families, using class-wide function-based interventions to provide behavioral assessments in the classroom, and creating professional development modules for teacher to improve student outcomes, just to name a few of the areas of our continuing work.
Juniper Gardens Children's Project
444 Minnesota Avenue, Suite 300
Kansas City, KS 66101-2914
Voice: (913) 321-3143
Fax: (913) 371-8522
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