SCSD Faculty Receives Subcontract from Florida Department of Health

Mollie Romano HeadshotDr. Mollie Romano from CCI’s School of Communication Science and Disorders and the Communication and Early Childhood Research and Practice Center (CEC-RAP) is partnering with Drs. Patricia Snyder, Brian Reichow and Crystal Bishop at the University of Florida’s Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies on a three-year-long endeavor to support early interventionists (EIs). The project, “Florida Embedded Intervention and Practice with Caregivers: Early Steps Professional Development Project” was awarded a $296,723 subcontract by the Florida Department of Health’s Early Steps program.

Early Steps serves infants and toddlers who have developmental delays within the state of Florida. The UF and FSU teams are working with the Early Steps State Office to provide professional development to EIs in the field. Specifically, the project helps EIs coach families in their everyday routines and activities to support their child’s social and emotional development. To achieve this goal, the EIs themselves receive coaching in how to use evidence-based practices that are known to build families’ capacity to support their children.

Romano goes on to explain the project:

“From birth, children learn to connect and communicate with trusted caregivers, and those interactions are critical to a child’s brain development. Coaching families to respond to their child’s communication, to help children regulate big emotions, and to connect with friends, grandparents, and siblings are ways that caregivers can support their child’s social and emotional development. Everyday activities like getting dressed in the morning, walking to the bus stop to get big brother, playing with blocks, or swinging at the park each include opportunities for children to connect, communicate, and engage with the world around them. Early Interventionists help families find ways to use those interactions to help their child communicate and engage with others. We are supporting Implementation Coaches who are trained to coach EIs in North Dade, Northeastern, Northcentral, Treasure Coast, Space Coast, and Southwest Early Steps regions.

The next steps for the project include taking the project statewide to ensure that all early interventionists are coaching and supporting families in Florida. The project will also gather data on the effectiveness of the professional development approach for use with early interventionists in the field, and how it impacts family and child outcomes.