Interdisciplinary project will provide training for 45 Occupational and Physical Therapy Graduate Students
Florida A&M University (FAMU) School of Allied Health Sciences’, divisions of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy have been awarded $1.2 million by the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) to implement an interdisciplinary training program to prepare graduate students to work with children with disabilities.
The funding comes as part of the KiDDs (K-12 Individuals with Developmental Disabilities) Inter-disciplinary project. It is a collaborative program between FAMU and Florida State University (FSU) designed to prepare interdisciplinary professionals to serve children with high-intensity needs, including disabled children from low-income, culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, through innovative healthcare practices.
There is a tremendous need to address the challenges children with developmental disabilities face, said Cynthia Hughes-Harris, dean of the FAMU School of Allied Health Sciences.
“Each of our institutions, FAMU and FSU, by working together, can make a difference in the lives of the children and can pave the way for future practitioners to develop skills and approaches that make a difference,” Hughes-Harris said. “This program is important because it focuses on partnerships and collaborations as a means of meeting the goals of the grant. Neither institution can accomplish the goals individually but together, we will be making a difference in the lives of countless school-age children with developmental disabilities.”
The KiDDs program will provide funding for 45 graduate students for interdisciplinary training for five years. Trainees will develop in-depth knowledge and skills in evidence-based assessment and instructional approaches for children with high-intensity needs, interdisciplinary collaboration, and cultural responsiveness.
The KiDDs program will also incorporate the strengths of four FAMU and FSU graduate programs to expose trainees to specialized seminars and experts versed in culturally-based, community partnerships.
Hughes-Harris said FAMU graduate students will have advanced experiences in meeting the health, social/cultural and educational needs of developmentally disabled children.
Through mentorship experiences with a wide range of local and national faculty members, inter-professional problem-solving opportunities with graduate students from other majors and institutions, and, advanced training workshops, seminars, and guided experiences, the graduate students involved in the KiDDs project will emerge as highly knowledgeable advanced practitioners who are prepared to meet the wide-range challenges of working with school-age children with developmental disabilities.
In just the past few years, the prevalence of children with severe developmental disabilities has increased significantly. The problems that these children face are primarily in arenas related to their health issues that require specialized services, Hughes Harris said. Additionally, many of these children are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, which necessitate a different level of intervention if their needs are to be fully met. Also, school districts are challenged as they struggle to meet the educational needs of this student population.
This grant is focused on providing a variety of services from a variety of professionals -occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, and special education teachers – to identify needs, implement programs, and improve the quality of life of children with developmental disabilities, Hughes-Harris added.
Trainees will also learn to work effectively within teams to develop, implement, evaluate and disseminate evidence-based practices for culturally responsive assessment and intervention for children with disabilities in educational settings.
Applications for funding will be accepted beginning in January 2020, and funding will be administered in August.
FAMU graduate Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy students interested in participating in the KiDDs project may contact project personnel in the appropriate discipline area for more information. Occupational Therapy: Aurelia Alexander, OT.D; Physical Therapy Dawn Brown-Cross, Ed.D.
“As a faculty member teaching students to become occupational therapists, this grant will afford a meaningful opportunity for our occupational therapy and physical therapy students to work with children, youth, and their families to promote active participation in activities or occupations that are meaningful to them,” said Alexander, associate professor of Occupational Therapy.
“This grant will allow the students to collaborate with children, parents, and speech language pathologists to meet the needs of children experiencing delay or challenges in development as well as identify and adapt or compensate for barriers that interfere with or decrease functional performance. I am so excited about this opportunity and partnership.”