The U.S. Department of Education today announced a $1.2 million grant to the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, Conn., to establish an Early Childhood Personnel Center to serve as a national resource for professionals serving infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families.
The Early Childhood Personnel Center will address a need identified in recent studies to strengthen the skills of the early childhood workforce to improve developmental and learning outcomes for the very young with disabilities.
“We need to provide the best services we can to help children born with disabilities develop and learn to the maximum extent possible,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “This center will help states develop an integrated early childhood professional development system so that professionals who work with infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families can effectively serve those populations.”
Key areas of focus for the center include:
- Assisting states in aligning their personnel standards to national professional organization standards;
- Assisting state agencies and institutions of higher education in developing partnerships with each other to support alignment between preservice and inservice training; and
- Assisting states in developing integrated early childhood professional development systems
The grant is being awarded by the Office of Special Education Programs.
Today’s announcement comes in advance of Secretary Duncan’s participation Thursday, Sept. 20 in a roundtable discussion with local and state early learning stakeholders at Elk Elementary Center in Charleston, W.Va. There, he will be joined by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning Jacqueline Jones and Office of Special Education Programs Director Melody Musgrove to discuss the importance of early learning. The event is being held as part of the “Education Drives America” Bus Tour.