Project aims to increase availability and quality of services for children with disabilities

UVM will receive a personnel preparation grant of $1.25 million from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) through the U.S. Department of Education. Leading the five-year project are Dr. Jennifer Hurley, associate professor of Early Childhood Special Education, and Dr. Shelley Velleman, chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

The Interprofessional Education (IPE) Project will lead to the interdisciplinary preparation of master’s level candidates across the two disciplines of Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) and Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education (EI/ECSE) leading to professional certification/endorsement. Faculty and candidates across two graduate programs at UVM will collaborate in shared coursework, group assignments, coordinated clinical opportunities, and structured joint experiences. This will lead to the preparation of 17 SLPs and 17 EI/ECSE, for a total of 34 professionals to serve children with disabilities and their families. The IPE Project will help to alleviate SLP and EI/ECSE shortages and increase the availability and quality of services for children with disabilities.

"I am thrilled to be working in collaboration with Dr. Velleman and the other faculty from the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department," says Hurley. "The opportunity to prepare our Speech Language Pathologist and Early Childhood Special Education students together will help to ensure that our graduates are prepared to provide services for young children with disabilities in a holistic rather than domain-specific manner."

Velleman says the training program will expand students’ understanding of how interprofessional collaboration can help maximize the development of young children in all of their environments. "The extra interdisciplinary training will enhance not only their ability to work with diverse families and children but also provide them with perspectives and strategies that will increase their own professional satisfaction and growth for years to come," she says. "I’m looking forward to learning a tremendous amount myself!"

Hurley says the grant money from the OSEP will allow UVM to provide tuition for high-quality students who would otherwise not be able to attend graduate school. "This is a win for our students and the children and families they will serve after graduation."

At least 34 scholars will receive stipends to fund all EI/ECSE tuition and most SLP tuition. The EI/ECSE graduate program is 36 credits, all of which will be covered by the OSEP grant. SLP graduate program candidates will receive funding for 39 of the 54 credits. 

In the months ahead, Hurley and Velleman will be recruiting graduate students for their program that begins in the fall of 2019.


Doug Gilman