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Kansas University Center for Developmental Disabilities

Early Childhood

Many KUCDD research, training, outreach service, and dissemination activities strive to to improve the quality of early childhood intervention for infants and young children with disabilities or at risk for disabilities.

To do this, we work on improving the skills of early childhood intervention program staff and increasing the knowledge of parents and other caregivers concerning effective early childhood intervention practices. 

An Aftican American preschool boy playing with toys.

The KUCDD Parsons site pursues several activities to meet this goal. The Assistive Technology for Kansans project conducts the Assistive Technology for Infants and Toddlers project, which develops the capacity of local service providers to provide AT services to families of infants and toddlers with disabilities. This project is funded by the Kansas In-service Training System (KITS), operated by David Lindemann, director of the KUCDD Parsons site. The KITS project conducts training and technical assistance statewide to promote quality early childhood intervention and preschool services.

Trainers from KUCDD provide results-based training throughout the year, including a four-day summer institute, an annual Kansas Department of Education Early Childhood intervention and preschool services conference, and through multiple training events held each month throughout the state. For example, recent training events include training on the Carolina Curriculum for Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers with Special Needs, conducting hearing and vision screenings, training on the Kansas EC Outcomes required by KSDE, Autism Spectrum Disorder training, and training on collaboration in Head Start programs.

The Child Care Focus project, also operated from Parsons, is designed to meet the needs of families and young children with disabilities in southeast Kansas, a largely rural area. The Parsons site operates a child care resource and referral center that uses state-of-the-art managed database technology to match and link families with child care providers. The project also conducts extensive public awareness activities and works closely with local public health departments.

Doctor examining a baby.At the KUCDD Kansas City site, the Kansas Infant Toddler Child Care Initiative is a collaborative effort with the Kansas Child Care Resource and Referral Agency to increase physician awareness of quality child care for children with and without disabilities. The project provides hands-on learning experiences in child care settings for pediatric and family practice residents and works with physicians in local communities to provide health care consultation to Early Head Start Programs. In related activities, the evaluation for the Kansas Early Head Start Program is provided by researchers at the KUCDD Parsons-site.

Additionally, the Caring for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities Project is operated by Kathy Ellerbeck. The project is designed to increase physician participation in the early intervention system through replication of a proven model of continuing medical education addressing two primary needs: the needs of families of children with disabilities to ensure the involvement of their physicians in community early intervention systems, and the need of physicians to acquire new information and skills in order to be full participants on community-based intervention teams.

Finally, investigators within other KUCDD-affiliated centers also are engaged in research and model development activities impacting early childhood education. For example, researchers at the Beach Center on Disability, particularly Ann and Rud Turnbull are engaged in multiple activities examining government policy, systems, networks and agencies and their impact on family quality of life and community inclusion for families of children with developmental disabilities. This research and model development particularly focuses on families from diverse backgrounds and supports a communities of practice model to ensure stakeholder involvement and to translate research into practice. Similarly, researchers at the Juniper Gardens Childrens Project are engaged in multiple activities impacting young children. For example, Judy Carta at Juniper Gardens is engaged in research designed to add to the knowledge and practice base in early childhood measurement by developing growth indicators that Early Head Start Programs can use to enhance program practices and improve child outcomes.