Related Studies & New Directions Additional studies will be conducted regarding related rural issues (e.g., family-school relationships; parent involvement in rural settings; and the development of needed skills and competencies for paraprofessionals working in rural schools).

Current Studies

Kennedy Center Partners in Education and ArtsREACH NANCY ENGEN-WEDIN (PI)

The Kennedy Center Partners in Education and ArtsREACH projects are funded by the U.S. Department of Education. They provide professional development opportunities in arts education for K-12 educators (classroom generalists and arts specialists) in three Nebraska school districts serving majority-minority students: Lexington Public Schools, Madison Public Schools and Umonhon Nation School District. Teachers participate in a number of professional development activities, and they partner with experienced teaching artists to improve educational outcomes for students in the three school districts. These projects are spearheaded by the LIED Center, along with Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education faculty and staff. They involve a collaboration of several state agencies, including Nebraskans for the Arts, Nebraska Department of Education, and the Nebraska Arts Council. Faculty from the Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools are consulting with the principal investigators on evaluation activities related to the impact of this experience on the educators, the teaching artists, and the students. A direct impact is anticipated on all four groups of participants as well as a potential impact on their communities.

Project Key Investigator: Nancy Engen-Wedin

Mountain Prairie Upgrade Partnership - Early Childhood Deaf Education (MPUP-EC) CHRISTINE MARVIN (PI), MALINDA ECCARIUS (PI)

TThis project is designed to increase the number of trained personnel in Nebraska, Wyoming, and Iowa, where shortages of deaf education teachers and early childhood special education (ECSE) teachers exist. Project participants will graduate with a master's degree and certification preparing them to meet the needs of families with young children who are identified as deaf or hard of hearing. Goals will be achieved though collaboration between the ECSE and deaf education teachers as well as between specialists and family/care providers. Graduate students majoring in either deaf education (P-12) or ECSE (birth to grade three) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will be able to augment their discipline-specific studies with coursework and practica related to young children with a hearing loss (0-5 years) and their families via distance education technologies.

The project supplements existing masters degree and state certification requirements with 10 credits of interdisciplinary coursework and practica. Early childhood topics include family-centered services, home visiting practices and inclusive preschool classroom consultation/instruction with an emphasis on teaming, coaching and collaboration in natural environments. Deafness-related topics include pediatric audiology; psychology and sociology of deafness, deaf or hard of hearing; and an emphasis on developmentally appropriate care, transitions and collaboration with community providers. In addition to discipline-specific practica throughout the program, participants enroll in an interdisciplinary seminar during their second year of studies to accompany supervised fieldwork with young children who have a hearing loss and their families.

Weekend and summer on-campus class sessions complement online and broadcast instruction and provide added opportunity for establishing a community of learners around shared interests in young children with hearing loss.

Project Key Investigators: Christine Marvin (PI),Malinda Eccarius (Co-PI)

Funded Participants (MPUP-EC): Kimberly Adelmund, Kimberly Allen, Karen Burke, Erica Gillespie, Amanda Spohn, Norma Kline, Amy Long, Sarah Rasmussen, Gina Schmitz, Angela Joannides, Sarah Haverkamp

Funded Participants (NE-PUP): Michael Brummer, Nicole Willers, Jami Garey, Wendy Wolfe, Abby Jones, Monica Pickinpaugh, Laura Cummings, Megan Murray

Rural Language & Literacy Connections (Rural LLC) LISA KNOCHE (PI), HELEN RAIKES (CO-PI)

Rural Language and Literacy Connections (Rural LLC) is a unique proposal designed to create an intensive, literacy-based early learning program for rural, low-income children in Nebraska. Rural LLC is grounded on strong preschool/Head Start classroom curriculum instruction and rich environmental supports in literacy and language, as well as literacy supports in supplemental child care settings (private home or center-based) and children's homes to enhance children's early reading skills. The partnership involves the Head Start Child and Family Development Program (HSCFDP), Grand Island Public Schools-Early Childhood (GIPS-EC) in central rural Nebraska, and the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The goals of Rural LLC are to (a) improve young children's oral language, phonological awareness, print awareness and alphabet knowledge via use of scientifically-based early literacy curricula (integration of Opening the World of Learning [OWL] and Read Together, Talk Together [RTTT]); (b) improve the language and print-richness of the literacy environments for preschool children enrolled in Rural LLC; and (c) improve the capacity of early childhood professionals in preschools and supplementary child care settings to support the future reading and school success of young children through systematic professional development activities, as well as supplemental literacy-based opportunities to families. The primary emphasis of the proposal is on center-based preschool settings but the secondary emphasis on supplemental child care settings and homes is necessary and innovative given the particular milieu of children's everyday lives in this community, and is designed to put children at risk for educational failure on successful reading trajectories.

Project Key Investigators: Lisa Knoche (PI)

Key Personnel: Carolyn Pope Edwards, Dawn Davis, Kandi Trujillo, Pam Dobrovolny

Literacy Coaches: Pam Wistrand, Brenda Knapp, Peg Rezac, Paula Thompson, Beverly Denman

Past Studies

The Role of Tribal Child Care Programs in Serving Children Birth to Five CAROLYN POPE EDWARDS (PI)

TThis study is designed to describe the role that American Indian directors play in the implementation of child care programs in their tribal communities. The study considers issues of local transmission of culture, preservation of tribal language and the role of quality strategies in program implementation. The information derived from the study will be useful in various ways. First, the findings will uncover the current state of cultural education and continuity efforts in tribal child care and what factors may be supports or obstacles for the directors. Second, they will reveal the tribally-specific ways in which quality improvement is being interpreted and implemented in different sites. Third, they will suggest whether tribal affiliation (enrollment) may be a factor in directors' perceptions about their achievements, obstacles, and challenges. Fourth, the findings will highlight directors' strategies for developing strong linkages for collaboration and exchange with one another. Fifth, they will reveal the kinds of knowledge and expertise that come with greater experience.

As tribal groups continue in their efforts to preserve and promote the continuation of cultural integrity, it is helpful to know how programs have dealt with these issues. Findings from the study will support and strengthen the continuing collaborative activities between states and tribes to continue to define and implement best practices in child care programs serving American Indian children. Findings from this study will also support linkages between the Child Care Bureau regional offices and program specialists and tribal child care programs regarding best practices in implementing culturally appropriate care. Additionally, the findings will provide social policy makers with information about low-cost strategies for utilizing the unique cultures and strengths of American Indian communities to support quality implementation and advance the optimal development of American Indian children enrolled in tribal child care programs across the country.

The Role of Tribal Child Care Poster

Project Key Investigator: Carolyn Pope Edwards (PI)

Project Director: Linda Mayo Willis