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Community of Support for Early Childhood Communities

Date Submitted: 09/08/2021

Contact Information:

Emily Scott Executive Director

(405) 434-5507

Autism Foundation of Oklahoma

PO Box 42133 Oklahoma City, OK 73162

Rating Category: Innovative Idea


Focus Area: Social Emotional Learning

Focus Population: Children, Teachers, Owners, Caregivers, Guardians, Medical Providers, Administrators, Parents

Goals and Outcomes:

The primary outcome for this submission is to increase support for early childhood communities in the area of autism and related disabilities by creating a statewide community of specially trained providers. The Autism Foundation of Oklahoma (AFO) will use the Training of Trainers Model to achieve this goal, recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2019). This model aims to prepare providers to present information effectively, respond to questions/concerns, lead activities that reinforce learning, and help others link evidence-based information to their day-to-day jobs, which ties in with the outcome of this submission. This submission will be the link between the evidence and the application of the evidence. The curriculum will include evidence-based information on the following areas: child development and social emotional well-being as it relates to autism spectrum disorders, components of quality early childhood education, family-centered care, culturally responsive care, teaming, collaboration, and communication. This program will build capacity across the state by training community-based providers through public-private partnerships in providing technical assistance and training to early childhood communities that support young children with autism.

Below are the intended objectives for the first year of program implementation. Once the submission is approved, this project will collaborate with the Oklahoma Child Care Resource and Referral Association (OCCRRA) to ensure goals are achievable and realistic.

  1. Recruit and train ten new trainers from across the state to support early childhood communities on autism and related disabilities.

  2.  Provide 100 virtual visits to early childhood communities supporting children with autism and related disabilities.

  3.  Provide 50 on-site visits or video reviews to early childhood communities supporting children with autism and related disabilities.

Brief Summary:

The issue addressed through this submission is the translation of knowledge from the Clearinghouse or other evidence-based resources into everyday practice. Knowledge translation is the movement of a new idea from a research setting, peer-reviewed journal, systematic review, or continuing education course to day-to-day practice. Knowledge translation is more than just knowing; it involves putting that knowledge into practice. Knowledge translation starts with practitioners becoming aware of new information, shifting perception of new information, making a decision about new information, applying it, and confirming the new information by incorporating it into everyday practice. Knowledge translation can significantly be limited when practitioners do not have access to role models who will encourage and support them in implementing newly acquired information (Rabinowicz & Ray, 2018).

This program aims to create a network of trained providers who bridge the gap in early childhood communities from acquiring new knowledge to applying the new knowledge into everyday practice. Based on literature around adult learning and knowledge translation, minimal change will occur if participants do not have access to a reliable support system (Rabinowicz & Ray, 2018). Early childhood communities are expected to know about all areas of child development. It is too much to expect them to be the expert in all things around child development. Through this program, the trained providers will be the experts in autism and related disorders, providing a valuable resource for early childhood communities supporting young children.

Approximately 260,000 children in Oklahoma are under five years old (US Census Bureau, 2019). Using the national statistic that 1 in 54 children have a diagnosis, about 4800 children in Oklahoma under five have autism. In an Oklahoma statewide study, approximately 39% of parents of children with autism reported that childcare significantly impacted their employment decisions, which is seven times higher than families of children without autism. Not having access to childcare affects families three times more than the effects of poverty. The childcare community is a critical community to the health of Oklahoma families that would benefit from a program such as this submission.

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