SCSD Student Diana Abarca Presents at Conference on Research Innovations in Early Intervention

SCSD Doctoral student Diana Abarca recently presented at the Conference on Research Innovations in Early Intervention (CRIEI).

Abarca’s study, entitled, “Using a Funds of Knowledge Approach to Explore Latina Mothers’ Experiences with a Statewide Early Intervention Coaching Program,” explores the life experiences of Latino families and children. Her research revolves around the implementation of early intervention practices for children of Latino families. Three mothers with children who had received EI services completed two interviews about their experiences in an early intervention program. The study found that each family had different cultural practices that impacted their understanding and implementation of statewide early intervention models. The study provides information that will be essential for early intervention providers as they adjust their practices to be more inclusive of different backgrounds.

Abarca told CCI that the need for this study arose due to the lack of information we currently have about traditionally underrepresented groups. “We don’t know much about what communities who have been historically marginalized, such as communities of color, need and how they accept the early intervention approaches that exist. This limits how “family-centered” early intervention services can be for these families. As a Latina myself, I recognize how existing approaches may not be in line with Latino cultures.” she said. “I wanted to center the voices of Latina mothers who had experiences in an early intervention program, and specifically with an approach that was developed here at FSU. I hoped to explore how they perceived these services and give them the opportunity to share how their lived experiences may have impacted their success with these services.”

The CRIEI Conference is a biannual event held in San Diego, California. It was created as a way for early intervention researchers and providers to share methodologies, research, and best practices. This was Abarca’s first time presenting at the event.

“It was a great opportunity to get to connect with other early intervention researchers who are passionate about centering the voices of the families we serve in early intervention. I was able to meet other PhD students and early career researchers who also understand the utility of

using qualitative methods in our research, which really affirmed my dedication towards using mixed methods in my research designs,” Abarca told CCI. “ It was especially meaningful to be accepted as a presenter at this years’ conference as the theme was Reimagining Early Intervention or Early Childhood Special Education for Equity. I am proud to be part of the movement for equitable services for families of color in the field of early intervention.”

To read more about the CRIEI conference, visit