Of this grant, eight education students and eight social work students will each receive a scholarship of $ 10,000 for one year. The grant provides scholarships for the next five years.
“We know we need to support early childhood special education teachers and social workers as they work with some of our younger members of society,” said Dr. Kathlene Campbell, Dean of the School of Education. “By incorporating trauma-informed and culture-affirming practices, we help our graduates defuse situations that can arise in early learning programs, classrooms and schools and build positive relationships with children. ”
The goal of the grant is to increase the number of culturally responsible social workers and educators ready to meet the early intervention needs of infants, toddlers and preschoolers with disabilities. Fellows will participate in interdisciplinary courses, field placements and learning communities. Students will learn skills to serve children with very high needs and those with an immigrant and refugee background.
“This grant will remove financial barriers and help us advance the common good by preparing individuals from diverse cultural communities to fill critical shortages in early childhood special education and social work, and to serve children with disabilities.” said Dr. Renee Hepperlen, associate professor of social work and one of the principal grant writers. “I am delighted to be working with the faculty of the School of Education on this initiative which will have an impact on our students as well as the families and children they will serve. ”
This is the second time that the School of Education has obtained the very competitive grant from OSEP. In 2016, St. Thomas received $ 1.1 million to help increase the number of autism spectrum disorder educators. Over the past five years, this scholarship has helped 70 students obtain their teaching licenses in this critically important field.
“I am proud that our university will play a role in addressing national, state and regional shortages in serving children with disabilities – especially those from culturally diverse communities,” said Dr Lynn Stansberry Brusnahan, professor of special education and others. principal author of grants. . Stansberry Brusnahan was also the Project Director of the 2016 OSEP Fellowship. The Co-Director of the Project, Dr. Bonnie Ingelin of the School of Education, and the Project Advisor, Dr. Katharine Hill of the School of Social Work, also contributed when writing the grant.
The School of Education and the Morrison Family College of Health have a history of collaboration. In February 2021, the two programs announced the launch of the Minnesota Institute for Trauma-Informed Education (MITIE).
“Children with disabilities and their families, especially those who immigrated to the United States, often experience trauma as a result of the instability and violence they endured in their home countries,” said Dr. MayKao Y. Hang, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives and Founder. dean of the Morrison Family College of Health. “This partnership, in addition to leveraging MITIE experts, will help reduce disparities in education and social work and advance professional practice in both fields for the benefit of children who would not otherwise benefit from skilled support.” that they need to thrive. “