By Kathryn Kao
The University of Georgia’s Preparation of Interdisciplinary Providers, or PIPs, project in the College of Education was recently featured in the U.S. Department of Education’s Early Learning newsletter, which highlighted the project’s role in helping infants, toddlers and children with complex needs and their families.
The $1.1 million personnel preparation grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, promotes collaboration among service professionals across multiple disciplines to deliver critical services to young children with high-intensity needs.
“This project aims to provide our speech-language-pathology students and early childhood educators with collaborative team skills and to also give them content around the two different disciplines,” said Rebecca Lieberman-Betz, associate professor and principal investigator of the project. “Being able to team up with a number of different providers in a way that supports children and families is important in providing optimal services.”
Over the course of a five-year period, the PIPs project will prepare 24 graduate-level speech-language pathologists and early childhood special educators to serve young children with disabilities and their families in interdisciplinary and collaborative contexts.
The first cohort of students is currently engaged in coursework and applied experiences with project faculty who are experts in early intervention, early childhood special education, communication disorders, assistive technology and augmentative and alternative communication.
By involving experts in the instruction of various modes of communication, the grant enables students to gain an extra layer of knowledge and applied experience using a variety of communication systems, while also developing content knowledge on team-based problem solving and critical thinking.
“We’re targeting scholars who want to go out and work with this population, who have a desire to work with infants, toddlers and preschoolers with complex needs and their families, and to be a part of an educational team that provides those services,” said Lieberman-Betz. “Students in this program are going to get advanced knowledge in really specific ways, so they can hit the ground running as graduates.”