Georgia

 

State Highlights 02/01/10 to 09/30/10

The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning’s (DCAL) commitment to supporting children with disabilities in community-based programs is demonstrated by its ongoing support to the Quest for Quality Inclusion Team, also known as the Georgia SpecialQuest State Leadership Team. This diverse, vibrant team consists of nearly 40 participants from the many sectors providing and supporting pre-k services in Georgia. A parent of children with disabilities enhances the team membership by sharing her family’s experiences and stories.

 

SpecialQuest Birth–Five and the National Professional Development Center on Inclusion (NPDCI) have partnered in supporting the Georgia team’s efforts. The vision, goals and accomplishments are outlined below.

Vision: A strong, integrated, statewide early childhood professional development system that provides and supports high quality, culturally and linguistically responsive inclusion for all children with disabilities and their families.

 

Goal 1: To develop brand recognition, public awareness and policy change to promote quality professional development on early childhood inclusion.

 

Accomplishments for Goal 1:

 

      • Development of a booklet, Providing Inclusive Child Care, for community programs to introduce the benefits of inclusion and to provide resources. This booklet will be used as a handout as consultants visit community programs and is also available on DCAL website: http://decal.ga.gov/documents/attachments/InclusiveChildCareBooklet.pdf
      • Revision of the DCAL website to include resources on inclusion
      • Posting of an extensive list of resources to support community programs and services in inclusion on other state agency websites, such as the Early Childhood Comprehensive System Project clearinghouse
      • Development of a Facebook page to promote the activities of the Quest for Quality Team:
        http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Georgia-Quest-for-QualityInclusion/141514409196143?v=wall
      • Approval of SpecialQuest as a curriculum for Georgia community college courses and DCAL training

 

Goal 2: Develop a professional development system that includes a regional cross-sector component to support increased opportunities for high quality inclusion.

 

Accomplishments for Goal 2:

 

      • Georgia now has a network of regional Inclusion Specialists operating out of the Resource and Referral Network. These specialists coordinate cross-sector teams in six regions to support inclusion. Each team consists of individuals from Babies Can’t Wait, pre-school special education, Head Start, child care programs, colleges/universities/technical schools, mental health programs, and families who come together around the shared priority of advancing the capability of their region to effectively serve young children and families, including those with disabilities.

 

SpecialQuest Community Teams

 

The Community Development Institute (CDI) Head Start serving Sumter County Georgia in Americus, and Easter Seals of North Georgia participated on the State Leadership Team. Accomplishments of these local teams include:

 

  • Promotion of the SpecialQuest materials and approach in their communities
    Coordination with local community colleges
  • Development of a transition agreement between Head Start and the public schools
  • Improved relationships with the early childhood programs in their communities and more reciprocal partnerships with a wider group of community agencies/organizations
  • Planning of a community-wide public awareness plan

 

Georgia Trainer of Trainers

 

A Trainer of Trainers event was conducted in the summer of 2009 to promote the use of the SpecialQuest materials and approach in Georgia. Nearly 50 individuals participated in the two-day event and wrote individual action plans for implementation after the event. Participants generated extensive and far-reaching plans. Examples included:

 

  • Introducing appropriate transition practices
  • Embedding the SpecialQuest content and approach into future training, and community and four-year college coursework
  • Including Head Start and their community partners-child care, early intervention, and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) in joint training regarding inclusion
  • Incorporating the SpecialQuest approach and materials into upcoming training events at the annual conference of the Georgia Association for the Education of Young Children and at Georgia Family Association meetings

 

Future Plans
The Georgia Quest for Quality Inclusion Team has committed to continue their efforts to realize their vision after the formal support from SpecialQuest Birth–Five ends. They generated the following action steps at the National Leadership SpecialQuest in Denver, Colorado in April 2010:

 

  • Develop a plan for Professional Development that includes the implementation of positive behavioral supports
  • Expand and support the regional inclusion teams and provide a follow-up summit
  • Promote the use of technology in the State Leadership Tea
  • Schedule visits for the State Leadership Team to inclusive programs or host regional visits, exploring opportunities through the Resource and Referral Network
  • Use data to support public relations; revisit branding activities; and plan for distribution of Providing Inclusive Child Care Booklet
  • Explore more opportunities to use family as faculty

 


 

State Highlights 04/01/09 to 01/31/10

The Georgia State Leadership Team has approximately 35 members, with diverse representation from across the state. The State Leadership Team includes a parent of a child with disabilities, and other who represent a wide range of early care and education efforts and organizations.


Georgia is working closely with the National Professional Development Center on Inclusion (NPDCI) and SpecialQuest, and their State Leadership Team represents both initiatives. The goals of the two initiatives are aligned and the team is implementing one combined action plan.


The Georgia State Leadership Team has the following three major goals:

  1. Promote the benefit of inclusion for young children with disabilities;
  2. Create a cross-agency network of coordinated services, collaborative practices and ongoing communication that provides seamless support to young children with disabilities and their families; and
  3. Develop a regional cross-sector professional development system to support increased opportunities for high-quality inclusion.


Recent highlights of the Georgia State Leadership Team:

  • SpecialQuest worked in coordination with NPDCI to plan and implement an early care and education summit in December 2009. The focus of the summit was to introduce a newly structured regional network of cross-sector professional development providers led by inclusion specialists.
  • The team collaborated with their local technical colleges to include information about children with disabilities, and provided them with inclusion resources including the SpecialQuest approach and materials. Many faculty from these colleges attended the SpecialQuest Training of Trainers and are in the process of making significant changes in the Early Childhood Technical Certificate of Credit in early care and education and after school care.
  • Several team members presented at the Georgia Association on Young Children. The conference sessions were based on different modules of the SpecialQuest materials.
  • The new regional network of inclusion specialists has been launched. This network is housed in the reorganized Resource and Referral Network. The inclusion specialists have received training on the SpecialQuest approach and materials to support inclusion.
  • A new pamphlet on the benefits of inclusion was developed by the State Leadership Team “branding” workgroup and will be available for inclusion specialists to use with community childcare programs. The specialists will receive resources provided by the State Leadership Team.


The SpecialQuest State Leadership Team Communities in Georgia are Community Development Institute (CDI) Head Start Serving Sumter County Georgia in Americus, and Easter Seals of North Georgia, Inc., in Atlanta. The communities receive quarterly site visits from the SpecialQuest Coaches and are represented on the State Leadership Team.

Recent highlights of CDI Head Start Sumter County Georgia:

  • Team members have made several presentations for Early Head Start/Head Start and partners using the SpecialQuest approach and materials. A meeting with the local community college was scheduled and ideas were brainstormed to share with a college faculty representative about using the SpecialQuest approach and materials in their coursework.
  • The early intervention and Head Start programs have been working on an agreement to support smooth transitions.
  • Early Head Start/Head Start and Part B have ongoing communication on behalf of children and families. They continue to encourage and solicit the participation of Part C and Childcare on their SpecialQuest Community Team.


Recent highlights of Easter Seals of North Georgia, Inc.:

  • The team is recruiting parents and childcare providers; planning a community-wide public awareness campaign; and embedding the SpecialQuest approach and materials in the new substitute orientation curriculum.
  • The team used the SpecialQuest approach and materials as part of a presentation for the Early Head Start/Head Start Policy Council, a session during the National Inclusion week events, and monthly staff meetings.
  • The team has reached out and begun collaborating with Pre-K Administrators, Resource and Referral agencies, the Interagency Coordination Council, and United Way.

 


 

State Summary 10/01/08 to 03/31/09

The Georgia State Leadership Team continues to have 34 members, with diverse representation from across the state. The State Leadership Team includes a parent of a child with disabilities, representatives from the two SpecialQuest State Leadership Team Communities, and a former Learning Coach. The remaining team members represent a wide range of early childhood efforts and organizations.

 

The Georgia State Leadership Team has three major goals:

  1. To promote the benefit of inclusion for young children with disabilities.
  2. To create a cross agency network of coordinated services, collaborative practices and ongoing communication that provides seamless support to young children with disabilities and their families.
  3. To develop a regional cross-sector professional development system to support increased opportunities of high quality inclusion.

 

Three workgroups related to these goals meet via conference calls between meetings and are facilitated by the SpecialQuest Coordinator and the Liaison.

 

The State Leadership Team is coordinating SpecialQuest Birth–Five with the National Professional Development Center on Inclusion (NPDCI). The goals of the two grants have been aligned, and the team is working to implement their plans for reaching these goals. Plans are underway for a Summer 2009 Training of Trainers to prepare regional cross-sector teams in the use of the SpecialQuest approach and materials. The workgroup for the third goal is working with NPDCI to plan an early childhood summit in Fall 2009.

 

The two SpecialQuest State Leadership Team Communities in Georgia are Community Development Institute (CDI) Head Start Serving Sumter County Georgia, in Americus, and Easter Seals of North Georgia, Inc., in Atlanta. The Communities receive quarterly site visits from the SpecialQuest Coaches and are represented on the State Leadership Team. Both Communities have had turnover in team composition and are reforming with SpecialQuest support.

 

Sumter County

The Sumpter County Team includes a variety of community partners representing Early Intervention, Childcare, Early Head Start/Head Start, and Health. The team is adding parents of children with disabilities and representatives from Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs).

 

The team members have made several presentations for Early Head Start/Head Start and partners using the SpecialQuest approach and materials. A meeting with the local community college is scheduled and ideas were brainstormed to share with the IHE representative about using the SpecialQuest approach and materials in their coursework. The Early Intervention and Head Start programs have been working on an agreement to support smooth transitions.

 

Action plans were drafted, the team is adding details on specific action steps, who is responsible, and when the steps will be completed. The team will complete the Community Perceptions of Inclusive Practices (CPIP) during the Spring/Summer 2009 quarterly meeting with their Coach.

 

Easter Seals

The SpecialQuest team member still with this program was recently promoted to Director. In this new role, she has held two Graduate Team Community meetings with the Coach during the Spring 2009 quarter. They plan to develop action plans at their Summer 2009 meeting. The team has six members. They will conduct the CPIP in Summer 2009.

 

 


 

State Summary 04/01/08 to 9/30/08

The Georgia State Leadership Team currently has 34 members, including a parent of a child with disabilities, representatives from the two SpecialQuest State Leadership Team Communities, and a Learning Coach in Phase I of SpecialQuest. The remaining team members represent a wide range of early childhood efforts and organizations: pre-kindergarten, Child Care, Special Education, Early Head Start/Head Start, the Georgia Department of Education, Georgia State University’s Department of Educational Psychology and Special Education, the Black Child Development Association, the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, The Latin American Association, and various training and professional development programs. This State Leadership Team brings a diversity of perspectives to their work.

 

Prior to being chosen as one of the ten SpecialQuest Birth–Five State Leadership Teams, Georgia participated in the SpecialQuest Training of Trainers as part of the National Early Childhood Inclusion Institute in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in July of 2007. Georgia was selected as a National Professional Development Center on Inclusion (NPDCI) state in fall of 2007. A NPDCI leadership group had already been formed prior to starting the work with SpecialQuest Birth–Five, and members were added so this group could represent both NPDCI and SpecialQuest Birth–Five. The state Liaison is the same for both grants.

 

Fourteen members of the State Leadership Team attended the National Leadership SpecialQuest in May 2008 Dallas, Texas. The team developed a vision statement and outlined three action plans. At the team's meeting in Spring 2008, a larger group that included both NPDCI and SpecialQuest Birth–Five team members refined and adopted the following vision: a strong, integrated, statewide early childhood professional development system that provides and supports high quality, culturally and linguistically responsive inclusion for all children with disabilities and their families.

 

They also refined and adopted three action plans:

 

  1. Develop brand recognition, public awareness and policy change to promote quality professional development on early childhood inclusion.

  2. Create a cross-agency network of coordinated services, collaborative practices and ongoing communication that provides seamless support to young children with disabilities and their families.

  3. Develop a regional cross-sector professional development system to support increased opportunities of high quality inclusion.

 

During the quarterly on-site meeting in the summer of 2008, team members formed workgroups based on the action plans. All three workgroups are meeting prior to their third quarterly State Leadership Team meeting to develop timelines for the execution of their plans, identify individuals responsible for specific activities, and select the evaluation methods for the steps of their action plan.

 

The State Leadership Team is coordinating their two grants (NPDCI and SpecialQuest Birth–Five). Their goals have been aligned, and they are working to implement their plans for reaching these goals. The team members requested time during their third quarterly State Leadership Team meeting in fall 2008 to work in small groups on their specific action plans.

 

The two SpecialQuest State Leadership Team Communities in Georgia are CDI Head Start Serving Sumter County Georgia, in Americus, and Easter Seals of North Georgia, Inc., in Atlanta. These two communities are working to expand the SpecialQuest approach to birth–five and complete the Community Perceptions of Inclusive Practices annually. The communities receive quarterly site visits from the SpecialQuest Coaches and are represented on the State Leadership Team. Both Communities have had turnover in team composition and are reforming with SpecialQuest support.

 


 

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