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Florida's Positive Behavioral Support Project

CARD staff continued participation on Florida's state training team on positive behavioral support. This interagency group (consisting of representatives from DOE, DCF, CARD, family groups and other providers) delivers training for educators, families, and outside agency personnel to promote their capacity to use proactive, assessment-based interventions for individuals with severe problem behavior. During the past year, the team provided comprehensive training in three new communities and delivered numerous other awareness and introductory presentations. In addition, their work has lead to an expansion of this DOE/BISCS funded project to include technical assistance for school districts.

Families As Teachers Program

This exciting program was created in May 1997 with funding from the Developmental Disabilities Council. The program focuses on promoting positive outcomes for, and a greater understanding of, people with developmental disabilities and their families. Its goal is to enhance partnerships between professionals and families of children with disabilities.

Families and professionals have been trained by the Families As Teachers staff to understand the purpose and scope of the program. The content of the curriculum was written by families to promote the concept of family-centered care by sensitizing professionals to the way families think, feel, and need support. Families want professionals to understand, appreciate, and capitalize on the depth of knowledge families have about their children. When a collaborative relationship between families and professionals is formed, together they can have a tremendous impact upon treatment and services that a child receives.

Workshops are approximately two hours in length, interactive, and activity oriented. Workshops and/or family visits have been provided for: medical residents, medical students, nursing, special education, counseling, and speech therapy. Future outreach will include occupational therapy, physical therapy, dentistry, optometry, clinical psychology, pediatric nursing, and social work.

In addition to the workshops, professionals are offered the opportunity to experience the joys and challenges of families in their everyday lives through visits with the family in their home. In addition, professionals may encounter a variety of experiences through family visits. They may attend the child's school, go out to dinner, swing on the playground, or attend a therapy appointment.

The Individualized Support Project and the ISP Outreach for State Service Systems

The Individualized Support Project (ISP) was a demonstration program that received federal funds to develop, implement, and replicate a comprehensive early intervention program for young children with challenges in behavior and communication development.

The ISP has received much attention from professionals and early intervention systems who face tremendous challenges in developing early intervention supports for young children with autism and their families. Across the country, early intervention providers are struggling to provide supports that result in meaningful outcomes and can be delivered through publicly funded early intervention programs. The ISP is an attractive model for early intervention providers as it is designed to build the capacity of families and child care providers to meet the unique intervention and behavioral support needs of young children with autism. In ISP, children and their families receive comprehensive supports within natural settings.

The ISP currently funded to assist early intervention programs in Pennsylvania and Connecticut to replicate the ISP model. Over the three-year grant period, project staff will provide training, coaching, technical assistance and information dissemination to early intervention personnel in the targeted states. In addition, conference presentations, workshops, and publications will continue to promote ISP as a viable and effective early intervention approach.

Family Network Project

The Family Network Project (FAMNET) is a three-year project funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research that offers help to families of children with developmental disabilities and problem behavior. FAMNET has operated as an affiliated CARD project, supporting families within the Hillsborough County area, many of whom have children with autism or related disabilities.

FAMNET operates on a family-centered model of support that combines a parent group format with in-home support. The parent groups consist of families with children from 4-to-6 years of age recruited from selected neighborhood areas. A total of six group sessions occur bi-weekly. The in-home visits happen on the weeks between and there is a one-to-two month follow-up period. Within the parent group sessions, FAMNET staff help families to develop a vision for their child, understand why their children exhibit problem behavior, and develop a support plan that can be used within the family routines. Through the parent groups, families learn new positive behavioral support (PBS) strategies and learn from other parents who have children with similar challenges.

In-home support involves getting to know the family and child within family environments. In keeping with the family-centered model of support, all of the strategies are developed with the families and in-home support is provided at times convenient to the family and during the time of greatest need. At the time of the home visits, the FAMNET support specialists assist the family in the application of positive behavior support strategies, introduced during parent groups sessions, to their unique home and community situations. The support specialists model the use of strategies and then coach families in their use of the support strategies with their children.

FAMNET is refining PBS training materials which include modules for six to eight family groups and a family support plan guide with suggested strategies. All of these materials are based on the principles of positive behavioral support. In addition to family support, FAMNET provides training for organizations that offer services to families as well as providing in-service training for teachers and administrators in local public and private schools.

Family Network Parents

"...I really got interested in the group after they came to the house. And they really made me feel comfortable ease. And everyone was so down-to-earth."

"I think we both needed help, the kids and the parents. And it was that coming home that really did it. You know? Put it all together."

"You know, it felt good to be around other people that could understand what you're going through. And they understand, and they don't judge you, because a lot of times people think it's your fault and your child is just spoiled, or whatever. And it felt good not be alone."