Early Intervention & Special Education

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Early intervention and special education programs provide supports and services to children with disabilities so they can develop, learn, and grow to reach their fullest potential. Early intervention focuses on family engagement and includes specialized services such as physical, occupational, or speech therapy for infants and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities in their natural environments. Special education programs provide therapies and educational services to preschool and school-age children in the least restrictive environment. FPG's work in early intervention and special education is extensive and conducted at every level of the system (i.e., national, state, and local ). Our technical assistance projects include tools, resources, and processes to support system leaders in building the infrastructure necessary to facilitate practitioners’ use of evidence-based practices to improve outcomes for children with disabilities and their families. Projects also provide faculty and professional development providers with strategies for preparing the early childhood workforce to support the learning and development of young children with disabilities.

Featured FPG News Story

Think Inclusive, a podcast from the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education (MCIE), has expanded its focus to early childhood inclusion, thanks to a recent partnership between FPG's Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center and MCIE. Going forward, the podcast will include three to four episodes on early childhood inclusion each year through September 2027 as part of this collaboration.

Featured Project

The DaSy Center assists state agencies in creating, expanding, or improving early childhood cross-agency and longitudinal data systems. The data systems will enhance state capacity to collect, analyze, and report high-quality data required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and allow states to examine how their public investments result in better outcomes for children and families.

Featured Person

With two master’s degrees, one in public administration and one in planning, Schatzi McCarthy, MA, MAPA, tends to see the world from a systems perspective. Her work at the Institute allows her to do that from a national and international perspective. McCarthy says her work at FPG lets her be a well-rounded generalist, employing her skills in evaluation, systems strengthening, supervision, and monitoring to support program initiatives.

Current Projects

The Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy Center) provides national leadership and technical assistance to states to support early intervention and early childhood special education state programs in the development or enhancement of coordinated early childhood longitudinal data systems.
This project supports implementation of the Center for IDEA Fiscal Reporting's effort to provide technical assistance in the role of state liaison and/or content specialist to state Part C early intervention lead agencies to help them meet their federal obligation to collect and report special education fiscal data as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
This model demonstration seeks to increase family uptake of developmental screenings and service enrollment of traditionally underserved populations by centering family and cultural voice throughout the implementation process.
The Early Childhood TA Center (ECTA) is funded to support state Early Intervention and Preschool Special Education programs in developing high-quality early intervention and preschool special education service systems, increasing local implementation of evidence-based practices, and enhancing outcomes for young children with disabilities and their families.
The study presented in this proposal is a collaborative effort between the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The intended outcomes of this program are to positively impact inclusion in early childhood classrooms and kindergarten readiness for children with disabilities. Consisting of a 4 day, in-person, professional development (PD) opportunity, virtual/in-person coaching, and Networked Improvement Community (NIC) meetings that are targeted to meet the individual support needs of the participants, we propose a three-phase process. Phase 1 includes targeted observations of inclusive STEM practices. Phase 2 includes a 4-day in-person PD opportunity, planned and facilitated by UMBC and STEMIE. PD sessions will be designed to provide participants with the opportunity to learn and expand their knowledge and sharpen their skills on inclusive STEM teaching. Phase 3 sessions will be developed based on observed needs of the participating teachers and support participants in using STEMIE resources (e.g. learning trajectories) within the scope of their own curriculum. This will be done via a series of individual coaching and NIC meetings to allow for collaborative problem solving with investigators serving as facilitators. The final phase (Phase 4) will include targeted observations of participants to assess progress.
This study will iteratively develop and test an adapted professional development model to be used with the Advancing Social-communication And Play intervention.
The National Clearinghouse on Autism Evidence and Practice (NCAEP) is conducting a systematic review of the current intervention literature targeting individuals on the autism spectrum. NCAEP is a continuation of the evidence review that was completed by the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Persistent, and quite pervasive, racial disparities have been found between Black, autistic children and their white, autistic peers. These disparities range from notable inequities in the timeliness of diagnosis to receipt of substandard services to their under-representation in research studies. While key disparities have been documented, there is a need for increased attention on potential underlying drivers of these disparities that are rooted in the Black experience. We know from existing research on Black health and wellness that racism is linked to some poorer physical and mental health outcomes. This project will examine the impact of racism and resulting racial trauma on the mental health outcomes of Black parents of autistic children (ages 3 -9) as well as the downstream consequences that parental racial trauma has on child behavior and development.
Effective implementation capacity is essential to improving education. The SISEP Center supports education systems in creating implementation capacity for evidence‐based practices benefiting students with disabilities. Project funding is by the Office of Special Education Programs.
This project's purpose is to develop and enhance the knowledge on the practices and supports necessary to improve access and participation within STEM learning opportunities for young children with disabilities.
This project's purpose is to expand the knowledge on the practices and supports necessary to improve access and participation within STEM learning opportunities for young children with disabilities and intersecting identities.
Early childhood educators (ECE) work with young children with disabilities as well as children from diverse backgrounds to support learning and development. It is critical for ECEs to be adequately prepared to serve children who are linguistically, culturally, and ability-diverse. The purpose of this project is to work with early childhood community college programs in North Carolina to enhance and redesign courses to better prepare ECEs to work with children with disabilities and children from diverse backgrounds.
The Trohanis Technical Assistance Projects group is dedicated to improving the availability and quality of services, and ensuring optimal outcomes, for very young children with, or at risk for, disabilities and their families. We assist states and local agencies that provide early intervention and early childhood special education.

Publications and Other Resources

Published: April 2024 Type: Reports and Policy Briefs
Published: December 2023 Type: Journal Articles
Published: November 2023 Type: Books and Book Chapters