An Interdisciplinary Approach to Preparing Early Intervention Professionals: A University and Community Collaborative Initiative

May. 21, 2010

Source: Teacher Education and Special Education, v. 33 no. 2,  p. 131-142. (May 2010).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this article is to describe a university-community collaborative initiative that provided an interdisciplinary approach to personnel preparation.

Four undergraduate and eight graduate students representing a variety of academic and professional disciplines successfully completed the yearlong program.

The program

The primary purpose of this state training grant was to implement an interdisciplinary approach to preservice training to increase the number of early intervention professionals who were prepared and qualified to provide early intervention to premature/medically fragile infants/toddlers and their families.
Courses were developed and co-taught by parents, early intervention providers, and medical professionals recruited from the community.
The interdisciplinary steering committee developed intensive practical experiences to facilitate the translation of knowledge into sustained daily practice.

Outcomes of the Program

Outcome measures indicated increased knowledge and acquisition of skills related to early intervention, and intervention specific to the high-risk population.

Furthermore, the article described employment and professionally related outcomes which directly involved providing early intervention to premature/medically fragile infants/toddlers and their families. Examples for these outcomes include:

(a) Full-time employment as a child service coordinator was obtained by an undergraduate and graduate student in the local infant-toddler program;
(b) one graduate student working in the local Infant Toddler Program was promoted to unit supervisor,
(c) two undergraduate students and one graduate student expressed intent to obtain positions in early intervention upon completion of their degrees;
and (d) an undergraduate student began an early intervention initiative in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Additional outcomes included newly initiated or strengthened collaborative efforts between the university and community programs, including submission of a grant proposal to establish a hospital-based early intervention program that was subsequently funded. Practicum sites within the Child and Family Program were also expanded to offer a broader perspective of professional opportunities within early intervention.


In summary, institutions of higher education can develop and implement innovative approaches to interdisciplinary personnel preparation.

Training efforts that focus on theory, knowledge, and best practice associated with early intervention can be enhanced to prepare professionals to meet the specialized and complex needs of our youngest population of children (and their families) entering early intervention.

Updated: Oct. 26, 2010