Diversity Fellow Project, Sharice Lane

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Disability-Inclusive Communities for Early Childhood

Disability-Inclusive Communities for Early Childhood [download poster]

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Project Narrative

1. Please describe your activities during your fellowship experience. Describe your final capstone project(s).
As a Diversity Fellow at Georgetown’s University Center for Developmental Disabilities, I enjoyed a plethora of professional and network opportunities during my experience. One major component of my fellowship experience was completing a certificate in Early Childhood Intervention. This nine-month long certificate program culminated in a Capstone poster presentation session for early intervention providers in the community. I attended the AUCD conference in November and the Disability Policy Seminar in April. I drafted and posted blog entries related to early intervention based practices. Finally, I worked on the beginning stages of evaluating the perceived effectiveness of the certificate program. I ensured all the necessary information was included in the data, corrected any formatting errors, coded text to ordinal data for further analysis and looked for trends in open-ended responses.

My Capstone project was completing and sharing the process for applying to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program for the upcoming 2018-2021 cohort. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program is three-year long fully-funded clinical leadership development program that mentors interdisciplinary groups of health practitioners to solve an identified “wicked problem” to be addressed in their community. I, along with two other colleagues and a supervisor, apply for the leadership program. Our project titled, “Disability-Inclusive Communities for Early Childhood” sought to provide capacity building for community members (i.e., early learning providers, religious organizations, community organizations) to actively promote disability-inclusive activities and participation for families of infants and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities. Our team submitted a brief video introduction of the team and objectives; five-page researched analysis to support our project’s objectives; one page summary of the identified “wicked problem”; and a comprehensive budget for the proposed three-year project. My team began the project in January of 2018, after participating in a webinar providing the details to apply. We completed and submitted our proposal in mid-March. Our team was notified in early May that we were not selected to move forward in the process; however, we were encouraged to participate in an upcoming webinar the following fall for teams that are interested in re-applying to the program.

2. Who did your project inform, help, influence or impact? (UCEDD, individual, community, state) How?
My project informed the members of the Georgetown UCEDD and other health practitioners in the DC community on the opportunities available to fund evidence-based practices to promote a community of health. Our team presented a poster in June where to explain to our colleagues the application process and how we plan to approach the application process in the future.

3. Why did you choose to work on that project(s)?
In 2017, a colleague contacted me to apply for the Clinical Scholars Program; however, there was not enough time to gather our resources before the deadline. This past academic year, we were both enrolled in the Early Intervention certificate program at Georgetown. As we were in the same cohort and needed a topic for our Capstone project, we decided to apply for the program and would detail the program and how it could provide funding opportunities for disability-inclusive early childhood best practices. We are both service providers and wanted to look for funding that would support a community inclusive project that looked to empower community leaders to include young children with disabilities in a variety of opportunities. We do plan to continue moving forward with this project and look forward to other sources of funding.

4. What did you gain from being a Diversity Fellow?
As a Diversity Fellow I received much support in further developing my research, clinical decision-making and program evaluation skills. I received ample opportunities to network amongst professionals in the field. AUCD staff was very supportive to emails and phone calls when inquired about opportunities to further networking or professional experience. The team was very open, helpful and supportive. I enjoyed attending the conferences where I learned about how different states approached policy and programmatic issues. The advocates at the conferences were inspiring to continue working towards increased societal accessibility and inclusivity. Finally, my training director at Georgetown UCEDD was very supportive to ensure I had projects and tasks that related to my present and future professional goals. She shared many ideas and resources that subsequently used as professional development tools.

5. How will this experience impact your education or career decisions?
This experience has been invaluable for continuing my recent professional pivot to more program evaluation and researching evidence-based practices to inform disability-inclusive early childhood education policies. I am hoping to look for more professional opportunities to further develop program evaluation skills. I am also looking to use my researching skills to develop ongoing newsletters of evidence-based practices to share with teachers and parents of my students. I have been implementing more of the leadership and coaching strategies when I engage with my families in the homes. These strategies have been very helpful improving parental problem solving skills when engaging and encouraging their child’s participation in the home.

6. What are your future goals? Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
In five years, I hope to complete more education especially in early intervention and technology. I would like to work in a research center that focuses on analyzing early childhood special education best practices. I would want to write articles detailing findings and using this evidence to inform education and health policies at the local, state and federal levels. I want to begin traveling, advising and collaborating similar practices across different countries to increase quality early childhood special education for all children.

7. What recommendations do you have for other Fellows?
My recommendation to other Fellows is to use this opportunity to meet as many people as possible, especially those who are local or in a related field as yours. I would also talk to your Training Director consistently and share with he/she/they of opportunities you are specifically seeking as to prepare you for a particular interest you may have to develop. I would also use the resources available through AUCD. I have met many helpful people and learned a great deal about topics and opportunities I would not have known existed outside of the Fellowship.

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