SCSD Doctoral Candidate Diana Abarca Receives Student and Early Career Council Dissertation Research Funding Award

Recently, School of Communication Science and Disorders doctoral candidate Diana Abarca was among just ten scholars recognized by the Society of Research in Child Development for their 15th Annual Student and Early Career Council Dissertation Research Funding Awards. These Dissertation Research Funding Awards (DFAs) are given to exceptionally noteworthy dissertation research proposals that have the potential to contribute greatly to the field of child development. Awardees receive $2,000 to go towards dissertation related research costs.  

Abarca was awarded for her proposal “Equity in Early Intervention: A Mixed-Methods Pilot Study of a Professional Development Program on Culturally Responsive Practices” which will study development training programs on cultural responsiveness for early intervention (EI) providers who work with families of color. The study aims to develop a professional development program, evaluate the social validity of the program from the perspective of various community stakeholders, and evaluate the effects of such a program on EI providers’ understanding of culturally responsive practices. 

On the importance of the study, Abarca explained, “As an early intervention provider and researcher within the field, I have noticed the disparities that families of color experience in early intervention… I am really excited about learning from all relevant stakeholders- families, providers, administrators of early intervention programs- to collaboratively build an effective and useful professional development program that will enhance the experiences that racially marginalized families have while learning about ways to facilitate their young children’s development.” 

Abarca spoke about her excitement towards the award, sharing “I was incredibly surprised when I found out that I had received this award. It means a lot to me that other researchers in related fields find my research efforts to be important and fundable. Receiving this funding is going to allow me to compensate participants with sufficient funds, a very important piece in collaborating with community members as part of community-based research.” Abarca will defend her prospectus this fall and begin data collection for this study in spring 2024.