Virginia

 

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

The Virginia SpecialQuest State Leadership Team maintains the following vision and mission:

 

Vision: Families of all young children with disabilities will have access to inclusive community settings, staffed with qualified, knowledgeable professionals.

 

Mission: Virginia’s early childhood workforce is sustained by a high quality comprehensive professional development system promoting inclusion of children with disabilities through the use of the SpecialQuest approach, materials and other resources.

 

In 2007, the state of Virginia coordinated its alignment with other state initiatives including the Governor’s appointed Professional Development Initiative and the National Professional Development Center on Inclusion (NPDCI). In 2009 the State Leadership Team separated those efforts into two focus areas: professional development system-building (the Professional Development Task Force and NPDCI) and professional development providers’ knowledge acquisition and application of the SpecialQuest approach and materials (the SpecialQuest Core Group).

 

The SpecialQuest Core Group went on to plan a SpecialQuest Training of Trainers event that was conducted in September 2009 by two SpecialQuest Consultants for a total of 43 participants. Invitation slots were held for professional development providers within each early childhood sector of the state, including child care, Head Start, early intervention, early childhood special education, higher education and parent leaders. At the completion of the two-day event, participants came away with in-depth knowledge of the SpecialQuest approach and materials as well as an action plan for how to apply these resources in their work.

 

Following the Training of Trainers event, the SpecialQuest Core Group were strongly committed to supporting the participants in their on-going use of the SpecialQuest approach and materials. The Core Group developed a plan based on the regional location of participants, with a Core Group member designated as the Lead for each region. The Lead’s responsibilities were to convene regional participants, check-in on their status of action plan implementation, share successes, and brainstorm opportunities for future collaboration on professional development for inclusion within the region.

 

The Core Group also developed a standard SpecialQuest evaluation form that they shared with the Training of Trainer participants. The SpecialQuest Training of Trainer participants/professional development providers were asked to use the form in all future SpecialQuest training events and to send those results to the Virginia SpecialQuest State Leadership Team Liaison. The Core Group has committed to reviewing the evaluation results during quarterly meetings to identify successes and potential need for support by the professional development providers using the SpecialQuest approach and materials.

 

As a result of the SpecialQuest Training of Trainers event, there are three primary means by which Virginia is infusing the SpecialQuest approach and materials into professional development, all with an eye on Continuous Improvement though the development, implementation and analysis of data from the consistent SpecialQuest evaluation form:

 

  1. Regional cross-sector events
  2. Higher education coursework and curricula
  3. Session content at statewide conferences

 

The two SpecialQuest State Leadership Team Community Teams, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and Total Action Against Poverty (TAP), have representatives who played an active role on the State Leadership Team and in their communities, promoting high quality inclusive practices. Both Community Teams have also partnered with their regional Training of Trainer teams, which has further enhanced their reach and potential impact.

 

In terms of impact at the higher education level, Virginia is a proud recipient of the Office of Special Education Programs ’Paraprofessional grant. Over the next four years, the state will be integrating the SpecialQuest approach and materials within the statewide curriculum offered to paraprofessional students within the community college system, thereby ensuring that these providers have strong foundational knowledge about how to support inclusion in their future work.

 

The Virginia Cross-sector Professional Development Workgroup (VCPD)

 

In January 2010, the SpecialQuest Core Group decided to return to its original professional development system-building effort and collaborate with the NPDCI and Infant Child Mental Health workgroups in the state to form the Virginia Crosssector Professional Development Workgroup (VCPD). The VCPD maintains the following purpose statement:

 

As a part of the on-going coordinated effort to develop an early childhood system in Virginia, the VCPD creates and maintains a statewide cross-sector professional development system that supports early childhood inclusion. The VCPD Leadership Team conducts joint planning, development, implementation and evaluation in order to ensure coordinated communication and collaboration across systems, thereby reducing duplication of effort and expense. The work of the Leadership Team will be guided by the use of the National Professional Development Center on Inclusion (NPDCI) Conceptual Framework and the SpecialQuest approach and materials.

 

The VCPD Leadership Team holds monthly conference calls to discuss statewide professional development efforts, including regional implementation of the SpecialQuest approach and materials, implementation of the Pyramid Model for Social-Emotional Development, and implementation of the Center for Early Literacy and Learning (CELL). The group has developed a Venn diagram to represent their alignment of state efforts in accordance with the NPDCI framework for professional development. They have also drafted a partnership agreement detailing the purpose of the agreement and the responsibilities of VCPD members.

 

Future Planning

 

The Virginia SpecialQuest Core Group has committed to continue their work (separate from the VCPD) over the next 12 months. Members have agreed to provide oversight to the regional implementation of the SpecialQuest approach and materials targeting the following three priority areas, and will request that the Virginia SpecialQuest evaluation form be distributed and compiled by those conducting the professional development activities:

 

 


 

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

The Virginia State Leadership Team currently has 14 members. The Virginia team has primarily focused on becoming more familiar with the SpecialQuest approach and supporting opportunities for other early care and education professionals to incorporate the SpecialQuest approach and materials into their work.

 

Recent highlights of the Virginia State Leadership Team:

 

The SpecialQuest State Leadership Team Communities in Virginia are Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in Fairfax, and Total Action Against Poverty in Roanoke. The communities receive quarterly site visits from the SpecialQuest Coaches.

 

Recent highlights of Fairfax County Board of Supervisors:

 

Recent highlights of Total Action Against Poverty:

 


 

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

The Virginia State Leadership Team has continued to strive to align the activities of SpecialQuest Birth–Five with those of the Professional Development Task Force sub-committees. In late February of 2009 team participants realized they were attempting to do work at two different levels, program and policy, which became challenging. It was then decided that the team would re-structure in accordance with these levels.

 

The program level, or Core Group, will focus on embedding the SpecialQuest approach and materials in early childhood professional development activities at the community and program level. Participants of the Core Group mainly consist of program and training and technical assistance staff, as well as parents. This same group will work together, along with a SpecialQuest Birth–Five consultant, to plan a SpecialQuest Symposium to take place in September 2009. This event will be designed to introduce and train individuals on the SpecialQuest approach and materials for use in programs and communities.

 

The remaining State Leadership Team members will continue to represent the SpecialQuest Birth–Five/National Professional Development Center on Inclusion (NPDCI) effort as participants and leaders on the Professional Development Task Force, focusing on the state-level program and policy planning.

 

There continues to be a heightened awareness among team members that there is administrative support for early childhood within the Governor'’s Office, and that 'the time is now' to have an impact on these efforts within the state. This elicits motivation within the team, but also causes a sense of urgency in their desire to move forward in implementing their action plans.

 

Planning is underway for the first pre-service/personnel preparation training session on the SpecialQuest approach and materials in the state. A SpecialQuest Coach, along with a an Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) representative familiar with the SpecialQuest approach and materials from North Carolina, are developing a half-day session to be presented at the Virginia Early Childhood Special Education Higher Education Council meeting at the end of April 2009.

 

Of the two SpecialQuest Graduate Team Communities, Fairfax County has continued to meet quarterly with their SpecialQuest Coach. Activities for this community include (a) developing a community vision and definition of inclusion, and (b) getting the message of inclusion out to community. Families were identified as critical voices missing on the team, and discussions were held to identify two parents to join. Graduate Team Community members have also discussed reviewing the SpecialQuest materials for use in future professional development activities.

 


 

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

The Virginia State Leadership Team is large (27 members) and has strong representation. This team works well together and has a history of collaborative efforts. There is a universal awareness among team members of administrative support for Early Childhood within the Governor’s Office, and that 'the time is now' to have an impact on these efforts within the state. The team is motivated and has a sense of urgency to move forward in implementing their action plans.

 

In addition to SpecialQuest Birth–Five, two other state initiatives were actualized around the same time. In April of 2008, Governor Kaine established the Office of Early Childhood Development and named the SpecialQuest State Leadership Team Liaison as the Director. In June of 2008, Virginia was selected as one of four states to participate in the second and final cohort of National Professional Development Center for Inclusion (NPDCI). The state Liaison is the same person for both initiatives, and the team membership for both projects is identical. This shared membership has helped to ensure clarity of vision and work between the two projects.

 

The Virginia SpecialQuest State Leadership Team has developed four action plans:

 

  1. Create and synthesize infrastructure – establish and sustain an infrastructure to coordinate planning, financing, and delivery of a professional development system.

  2. Develop a comprehensive accountability system – develop a statewide measuring system of outcomes for continuous quality improvement.

  3. Promote and embed Virginia’s SpecialQuest vision – create a marketing and public awareness plan that relays a consistent message.

  4. Professional development and use of research-based practices – implement a service delivery system for professional development incorporating research-based practices.

 

The work of the Professional Development Subcommittee appears to be the most advanced. The group has taken on a formidable task—to survey all entities providing professional development on inclusive practices (serving children birth–five) across Virginia. The essential elements of the "Who, What and How" of professional development in Virginia, as identified via the NPDCI process, proved to be very informative in structuring this effort. In addition, they plan to incorporate inclusive practices into the current state early childhood education competencies. This subcommittee continues to meet during and between State Leadership Team meetings to further implement their action plan.

 

The Accountability Subcommittee has also been active. The group participated on a conference call with the SpecialQuest Evaluation Coordinator to help clarify their direction in thinking through the various aspects of assessing existing data across systems (state agencies as well as pre-service systems) and determining opportunities for data alignment and tracking outcomes.

 

The two SpecialQuest State Leadership Team Communities are Total Action Against Poverty (TAP) in Roanoke, and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. These two communities are working to expand the SpecialQuest approach birth-five and complete the Community Perceptions of Inclusive Practices annually. The communities receive site visits from the SpecialQuest Coaches and are represented on the State Leadership Team.

 

The Professional Development Task Force is a Governor's initiative with very similar priorities as those of the SpecialQuest Birth–Five State Leadership Team. State Leadership Team members serve on the Professional Development Task Force workgroups and serve as "stewards of inclusion" to that effort.

 


 

Share This Page