Massachusetts


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

The Massachusetts State Leadership Team recently reaffirmed the vision that they crafted in April 2008 to guide their work. The vision reads as follows:

 

Recognizing that all children are born with possibilities, families and children birth to five will have access to high quality, child- and family-centered inclusive settings in a seamless system of coordinated supports and services.

 

For the past three years the team has worked to make this vision a reality by strengthening and expanding existing collaborations to implement inclusive practices for children in all early care and education settings.

 

Of particular note has been the extensive use of the SpecialQuest approach, materials, and resources in cross-sector professional development activities. Early in the grant cycle the team sponsored a day-long Early Childhood Inclusion Symposium to introduce and launch SpecialQuest to the state. The symposium featured keynote speakers and presentations from SpecialQuest Birth–Five staff, along with Dan Habib, Director of the award winning documentary, Including Samuel. More recently, SpecialQuest was a featured track at a three-day conference, sponsored by the state Head Start Training and Technical Assistance (T/TA) Office with support from the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC). Many of the workshops were offered in Spanish. At both events, tuition was either waived or lowered for family members, who were very well represented. State Leadership Team members have been a strong presence throughout the state, presenting workshops at almost all state, regional, and local early childhood conferences.

 

There are three SpecialQuest Community Teams in Massachusetts. Two SpecialQuest graduate teams were selected during the application process: Citizens for Citizens Head Start in Fall River, and Holyoke Chicopee Springfield Migrant Head Start in Springfield. A third community, Cape Cod/Barnstable, has embraced SpecialQuest in spite of not having the advantage of participating in Phase I or Phase II SpecialQuest events. All three Community Teams developed strong partnerships among Head Start/Early Head Start, child care, families, early intervention and public school special education programs and have implemented action plans around areas identified during the Community Perceptions of Inclusive Practices (CPIP) process.

 

The Community Teams served as pilot sites in which the SpecialQuest approach and materials, as well as other evidencebased practices, were “tried out” in real life settings. Their experiences help inform the State Leadership Team as they worked towards creating more inclusive opportunities for children and families in the Commonwealth. Some of the concrete products developed by the Community Teams included a common referral form used by all agencies, a resource directory for families, community-specific brochures on inclusion and SpecialQuest, a parent survey, and a system for awarding credit for attending professional development activities for individuals working in agencies with a variety of professional credentialing systems.

 

During the last year, each Community Team made professional development a top priority. They drew on each other’s experiences to conduct cross-sector events tailored to the families and professionals in their communities using the SpecialQuest approach and materials. These events were well attended and evaluated highly by the participants, which included Head Start/Early Head Start, family members, child care, early intervention and preschool staff, and in one case, all of the pediatricians in a community.

 

Higher Education has been well represented on both the state and local teams. As faculty became familiar with the SpecialQuest approach and materials, they increasingly embedded them into their coursework. One faculty member remarked, “I have been teaching for 30 years, and you have changed my life…I will never teach the same way again.” Another faculty member on a Community Team has embedded SpecialQuest into all of the early childhood courses offered at the community college. One of the co-facilitators of the team talked about the impact that this will have in the future. “We may not see the results immediately, but in the long run, this is where the huge impact will happen. Teachers are being trained from the beginning to understand that the places where they will work will be inclusive.”

 

Other accomplishments of note include:

 

 

Massachusetts has accomplished an amazing amount of work in the short period of this grant. Under the leadership of State Leadership Team Liaison and steering committee, a large and effective team was pulled together that stayed connected through quarterly meetings, newsletters and a Listserv. The voices of family members, Community Team members and state and regional early childhood professionals all contributed to the work of making the SpecialQuest vision a reality.

 

The team is committed to continuing this work into the future and is considering expanding their vision to include children from birth to age eight. In October 2010, there will be five Communities of Practice meetings held across the Commonwealth. Titled, SpecialQuest – Creating Inclusive Communities for Young Children with Disabilities, these meetings are certain to generate even more awareness and interest. The team is also hoping to bring together the “graduates” of the SpecialQuest Intensive (Training of Trainers) that was held in the summer of 2009. These are just a couple of examples of the ambitious plans that the State Leadership Team has to continue their work of creating more quality inclusive opportunities for young children and their families.

 


 

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

The Massachusetts State Leadership Team currently has 41 members. The team represents five state-level departments, the Head Start Association, and four local Head Start/Early Head Start/Migrant Head Start programs. In addition, participants include selected community partners from public school preschool and early intervention programs; several parents of children with disabilities, including a parent who also serves on the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care Parent Advisory Team; Childcare Resource and Referral; the Massachusetts Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Project (MECCS), and the Perkins School for the Blind. Faculty at three community colleges and two universities are represented on the team. Five members of the original Expanding Opportunities Team continue to be active participants on the State Leadership Team.


The Massachusetts team is working on the following areas of focus:

 

Recent highlights of the Massachusetts State Leadership Team:

 

The SpecialQuest State Leadership Team Communities in Massachusetts are Citizens for Citizens Early Head Start in Fall River, Holyoke Chicopee Springfield Migrant Head Start in Springfield, and Cape Cod and Islands Early Childhood Intervention Program in Cape Cod. The communities receive quarterly site visits from the SpecialQuest Coaches. All three communities have strong partnerships with both Early intervention and public school special education programs and are implementing action plans around areas identified during the Community Perceptions of Inclusive Practices process. The communities serve as demonstration sites in which the SpecialQuest approach and materials, as well as other evidence-based practices are “tried out” in real life settings. Their experiences help inform the State Leadership Team as they work towards creating more inclusive opportunities for children and families in the Commonwealth.


Recent highlights of Citizens for Citizens Early Head Start:

 

Recent highlights of Holyoke Chicopee Springfield Migrant Head Start:

 

Recent highlights of Cape Cod and Islands Early Childhood Intervention Program:

 

 


 

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

The State Leadership Team has been expanded to include an additional parent representative who also serves on the Massachusetts Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC) and another Local Education Agency (LEA) preschool coordinator from one of the Team Communities. These two new members joined a large team representing five state-level departments, the Head Start Association, the Head Start State Collaboration Office, and four local Head Start/Early Head Start/Migrant Head Start programs. In addition, participants include selected community partners from public school preschool and early intervention programs; several parents of children with disabilities, including a parent who also serves on the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) Parent Advisory Team; Child Care Resource and Referral; the Perkins School for the Blind; and a technical assistance provider from the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC). There are eight State Leadership Team members who serve as faculty at three community colleges and two universities. Five members of the original Expanding Opportunities Team that pulled together the SpecialQuest proposal continue to be strong, vocal participants on the State Leadership Team.

 

The large size of the team continues to be an advantage by bringing multiple perspectives to the SpecialQuest work, as well as offering the challenge of maintaining cohesion and conveying the history of our work to new members as they come aboard. A Steering Committee was formed in Fall 2008 to coordinate the work of the State Leadership Team. A listserv helps keep team members connected between quarterly meetings. Additionally, a newsletter is compiled before each meeting to update the State Leadership Team on statewide and community activities. A brochure describing the work of the State Leadership Team in Massachusetts was developed and is being disseminated.

 

Massachusetts originally identified four areas of focus and developed action plans to address these areas:

  1. Vision/Mission/Core Values;
  2. Infrastructure;
  3. Strategies; and
  4. Professional Development.

 

The State Leadership Team has met quarterly since the National Leadership SpecialQuest in May 2008 in Dallas, Texas, to further define and operationalize the plans. Working groups were formed late in Summer 2008. Highlights of the many activities that are underway include embedding the SpecialQuest approach and materials in coursework offered by Institutions of Higher Education (IHE); developing a Professional Development Institute to offer reciprocal training for professionals and family members across systems; instituting a common referral form; moving forward a draft of the Massachusetts Interagency Agreement among Early Care, Health and Education Programs and Agencies in Massachusetts; and exploring the possibility of using a joint IFSP/IEP form for children who have disabilities, ages birth–five.

 

The State Leadership Team, along with the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), is sponsoring a day-long Early Childhood Inclusion Symposium on May 1. The Symposium will serve as the launching of the SpecialQuest approach and materials to agencies and families from across the Commonwealth. Dan Habib, Director of the award-winning documentary film, Including Samuel, and Linda Brekken, Director of SpecialQuest Birth–Five, will be keynote speakers in the morning. Workshops in the afternoon include the following:

 

 

There are three SpecialQuest State Leadership Team Communities in Massachusetts. Two SpecialQuest graduate teams were selected during the application process: Citizens for Citizens Early Head Start in Fall River, and Holyoke Chicopee Springfield Migrant Head Start in Springfield. A third Community, Cape Cod/Barnstable, has embraced SpecialQuest in spite of not having the advantage of participating in Phase I or Phase II SpecialQuest events. All three communities have strong partnerships with both early intervention and public school special education programs and are implementing action plans around areas identified during the Community Perceptions of Inclusive Practices (CPIP) process. The communities serve as pilot sites in which the SpecialQuest approach and materials, as well as other evidence-based practices are “tried out” in real life settings. Their experiences help inform the State Leadership Team as they work towards creating more inclusive opportunities for children and families in the Commonwealth.

 

SpecialQuest Birth–Five has a strong presence in both Massachusetts and in the nation. State Leadership Team members frequently present workshops at statewide early childhood/early intervention conferences and meetings. Massachusetts was highlighted in a presentation at the Annual OSEP Early Childhood Meeting in the District of Columbia in late 2008 and will be featured on an upcoming national Webinar jointly sponsored by NECTAC and SpecialQuest as part of a 619 Preschool series.

 


 

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

There are currently 41 members on the State Leadership Team representing five state-level departments, the Head Start Association, the Head Start State Collaboration Office, and four local Head Start/Early Head Start/Migrant Head Start programs. In addition, participants include selected community partners from public school preschool and early intervention programs; several parents of children with disabilities, including a parent who also serves on the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) Parent Advisory Team; Child Care Resource and Referral; the Perkins School for the Blind; a technical assistance provider from the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC); and the Head Start Quality Initiative in Region I. Additionally, there are eight State Leadership Team members who serve as faculty at three community colleges and two universities. Five members of the original Expanding Opportunities Team that pulled together the SpecialQuest proposal continue to be strong, vocal members of the State Leadership Team. The large size of the team has the advantage of bringing multiple perspectives to the SpecialQuest work, as well as challenges in maintaining cohesion and conveying the history of the work to new members as they come aboard.

 

Massachusetts originally identified four areas of focus and developed action plans to address these areas:

 

  1. Vision/Mission/Core Values;
  2. Infrastructure, Strategies;
  3. Strategies; and
  4. Professional Development.

 

The team has met twice since the National Leadership SpecialQuest in May 2008 in Dallas, Texas, to further define and operationalize the plans. Working groups were formed in late summer of 2008. Highlights of the many activities that are included in the action plans that are underway include embedding the SpecialQuest approach and materials in Institutes of Higher Education (IHE) courses; developing a Professional Development Institute to offer reciprocal training for professionals and family members across systems; instituting a common referral form; moving forward a draft of the Massachusetts Interagency Agreement Among Early Care, Health and Education Programs and Agencies in Massachusetts; developing a "Fact Sheet" about SpecialQuest Birth–Five in the Commonwealth; and exploring the possibility of using a joint IFSP/IEP form for children who have disabilities, ages birth–five.

 

There are three SpecialQuest State Leadership Team Communities in Massachusetts. Two SpecialQuest graduate teams were selected during the application process: Citizens for Citizens Early Head Start in Fall River, and Holyoke Chicopee Springfield Migrant Head Start in Springfield. A third Community, Cape Cod/Barnstable, has embraced SpecialQuest in spite of not having the advantage of participating in Phase I or Phase II SpecialQuest events. All three team communities have strong partnerships with both early intervention and public school special education programs and are developing action plans around areas identified during the Community Perceptions of Inclusive Practices (CPIP) process. The team communities have agreed to be demonstration sites in which the SpecialQuest approach and materials, as well as other evidence-based practices are "tried out" in real life settings. Their experiences will help inform the State Leadership Team as they work towards creating more inclusive opportunities for children and families in the Commonwealth. A strength in Massachusetts is the extensive participation of Institutes of Higher Education on both the state and local teams (mentioned above). A challenge is how to continue to move such a large team forward, especially in light of the impressive sweeping goals they wish to accomplish. A Steering Committee is being formed to ensure that this happens.

 


 

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