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to Focus on Dallas’ Low-Income Neighborhoods
The grant was made by the department’s Office of Special Education Programs to Mary E. Dodd and Janice W. Lougeay, both of whom are clinical lecturers in UT Dallas’ School of Human Development. With the grant, UTD becomes the only institution of higher education in Texas currently funded for such training.
The training, much of which will be based in low-income areas of Dallas, is to be conducted for UTD graduate students preparing for either of two career paths — speech pathologist with a Master of Science degree in Communications Disorders or early intervention specialist with a Master of Science in Early Childhood Disorders.
“This grant is additional recognition of the outstanding and innovative training offered through UTD’s program in early childhood disorders,” said Dr. Bert S. Moore, dean of the School of Human Development. “It is the only program in the country of which I am aware that grounds students so completely in an understanding of normal early development in order to become more effective interventionists with children exhibiting developmental delays.”
The training is aimed at improving the recruitment and retention of professionals who serve children from birth to three years of age with disabilities and their families.
“Turnover among professionals in this field is a serious problem and typically occurs in the first 18 months on the job,” said UTD’s Dodd, the project’s lead investigator. “It is our hope that the uniqueness of this opportunity will attract more students into early intervention, imbue them with enthusiasm for this work and provide them with the qualitatively different skills necessary for entry-level success, which should yield higher retention rates.”
The training itself will involve screenings and assessments of youngsters to identify those with developmental delays and disorders, who then can be referred for appropriate treatment. Those activities will take place in a variety of locations, including homes, centers, health care facilities and other community settings — “even at a McDonald’s — wherever there are families and children,” Dodd said.
Students will also receive training in providing family-centered intervention to toddlers with disorders in relating and communicating.
Interdisciplinary teams of UTD graduate students will work under the direct supervision of faculty members and parents of children with disabilities.
Most of the activities will be conducted in low-income areas of Dallas, many of which are Latino communities where the need for such services is great, according to Dodd.
“There are many children in Dallas who don’t receive early childhood intervention services, particularly among the Latino population,” she said. “This is due to many factors, including the language barrier, the mobility of the population and, in some instances, fears of deportation.”
As a result, two supervisors in the UTD program will be fluent in both English and Spanish, and a special effort will be made to attract bilingual students to the program.
“Students will be trained in the use of techniques from cultural anthropology to help them better understand the lifeways of others, which will foster a greater sense of cultural sensitivity among our students and faculty,” Dodd said.
The grant will enable 60 full-time and 20 part-time students over the next five years to receive stipends covering tuition and fees for the credit-hour equivalent of one year of their graduate education — a total of approximately $8,000 per student. Another 90 students are expected to participate in some aspects of the training.
Under the requirements of the federal grant, students who receive a stipend must work for two years in an early childhood intervention program for each year of funding received.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls approximately 6,500 undergraduate and 4,500 graduate students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit its web site at www.utdallas.edu.
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This page last updated June 7, 2001