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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI, state form partnership to benefit
children with developmental challenges

KINGSTON, R.I. -- December 23, 1999 -- The University of Rhode Island is now working with the state Department of Health to bolster program planning, evaluation, staff training and grant writing for the state's Early Intervention Program.

The newly established URI Family Resource Partnership is the vehicle through which URI is focusing on Early Intervention, a statewide program that provides services for children, ages birth to 3, who face developmental challenges, their families and the agencies supporting them.

"We are collaborating with the Department of Health to bring University expertise to strengthen the program," said Jerome Adams, URI associate professor of human development and family studies. "Rather than provide direct services, we want to offer research and scholarly expertise so the health department can expand its effort."

"This is one of the most important areas to which we can bring the University's research, clinical skills and compassion," said URI President Robert L. Carothers. "The future health of our state, and indeed that of our nation, rests on our ability to help children at risk, families working hard to care for and educate them, and the agencies looking for reliable research and new answers."

The URI partnership currently involves the colleges of Human Science and Services, Arts and Sciences and Nursing, as well as the Rhode Island Departments of Health and Education. A total of 18 URI researchers and state department officials will participate in the work.

Early Intervention is a family-centered program designed to assist infants and toddlers who have been diagnosed with disabilities, such as speech and hearing impairments. The program also assists those children who have potential for developmental difficulties because of low birth weight or other factors. Early Intervention programs are designed to enhance a young child's development. Services are coordinated at five regional sites throughout Rhode Island.

"As much as possible, the Early Intervention Program tries to provide services in a child's natural setting (their homes)," said Jerome Schaffran, chair and associate professor of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

The Family Resource Partnership will have three major activities:

1. Evaluation: URI faculty will undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the state's early intervention services. They will assess whether existing Early Intervention services match the needs of children and families. The team will also work with other agencies to develop a method to track children receiving early intervention services, as they make the transition at age 3 to the educational system and other state programs such as Head Start.

2. Staff training: The partnership team will make recommendations for professional staff training in the Early Intervention Program. The goal is to prepare staff to provide high-quality services to children and families, and to help them meet needs identified in the evaluation phase. The Department of Health believes that such training should have an academic base, because best practice requires high levels of scholarship and research, as well as ongoing evaluation.

3. Grant writing: URI faculty will collaborate with their state colleagues in writing grants to fund ongoing program evaluation and training.

In seeking national funding, the partnership will be addressing questions central to the delivery of early intervention services. "These are questions important to us here in Rhode Island, but also across the nation," said URI Professor of Human Development and Family Studies Diane Horm-Wingerd.

In addition to the Early Intervention collaborative, the partnership has initiated several other projects. The partnership will team with the Rhode Island Department of Education: Evaluate the Rhode Island Reading Excellence Program; work with the newly established URI Feinstein Center for a Hunger Free America to address the problem of family and childhood hunger; and study drug and alcohol abuse in families with adolescent children.

The President's Partnership Program, also designed to increase interdisciplinary research and teaching efforts in areas critical to societal needs, is a highly competitive program that now funds seven partnerships: Family Resource Partnership; Forensic Science Partnership; Physiological Measurements and Computing; President's Health Promotion Partnership; The Partnership for the Coastal Environment; Rhode Island Public Health Partnership in Infectious Disease; and Sensors and Surface Technology Partnership for Education and Research.

Carothers established the partnerships four years ago to encourage campus-wide interest and research innovation in what are URI's Four Focus Areas-Marine and Environmental Studies; Health; Children, Families, and Communities; and Enterprise and Advanced Technology.

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For more information: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116


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