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
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
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
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.
For more information: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116