New Innovative Early Language and Literacy Program in South Carolina

NOTE: May is Better Hearing and Speech Month

Family Connection of South Carolina

By Amy Holbert, chief executive officer of Family Connection of South Carolina


Family Connection of South Carolina is pleased to join the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and the American Speech Language and Hearing Association in celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month.

Family Connection of South Carolina is excited to announce a new communication tool launched earlier this month in the spirit of this year’s theme, “Communication at Work!”

Family Connection of South Carolina—in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Education—launched a family-centered, early language and literacy communication service for parents of preschoolers.

“Text2Read” (T2R) is a free mobile-based program offering practical information about child development and low-cost language and literacy activities for young children. The service is a confidential, easy-to-use resource for parents to help prepare their child for kindergarten and to become ready to read.

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Voices From the Field: Interview with Linda Gilkerson and Pamela Epley

Promoting Children’s Mental Health Awareness

Linda Gilkerson and Pamela Epley

Linda Gilkerson and Pamela Epley

Linda Gilkerson, Ph.D., LSW, is a professor at Erikson Institute where she directs the graduate training programs in infancy and infant mental health.

Pamela Epley, Ph.D., is an associate clinical professor and director of special education at Erikson Institute.


ED: We are celebrating Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day in May. Could you tell us what efforts you have been involved in to improve the quality of early childhood programs and services to better address young children’s mental health?

Infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH) is synonymous with healthy social-emotional (SE) development and robust early learning, including the ability to regulate and express emotions; form close personal relationships; and explore the environment and learn in the context of family, community, and culture. Over the past years, we have worked with Illinois’ Early Intervention (EI) system to increase its focus on children’s SE development. We’ve done this by promoting relationship-based services, more systematic screening of SE development, and the addition of SE Consultants.

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Education Department-funded Center Helps Families Adjust to Schooling’s “New Normal”

IRIS Center Resource Module: Resources to Assist Parents, Educators, Service Providers and Stakeholders During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Parent: Supporting Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Kristen Kushiyama, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services


Most schools in the United States shut their doors almost two months ago and switched from traditional classrooms to distance learning environments.

Families moved to adapt to at-home school settings while also having to shift their own work schedules and environments. Teachers, many of whom also had to account for their own children’s schooling, raced to prepare learning packets and modify in-classroom instruction to support their students from afar.

U.S. Department of Education grant-funded centers started to release resources and materials specific to helping support families, educators and service providers during a pandemic.

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OSEP Releases Fast Facts: Children Identified With Emotional Disturbance

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services’ Office of Special Education Programs. OSEP Fast Facts: Children Identified With Emotional Disturbance. Percentage of Students with Disabilities Identified with Emotional Disturbance, Ages 6 to 21, Served Under IDEA, Part B, in the United States: School Year 2018-19. Map of United States. In SY 2018-19, the percentage of students with disabilities identified with emotional disturbance is 5.45%. States report a range from 1.65% to 17.36% of students with disabilities identified with Emotional Disturbance. Source: U.S. Department of Education, EDFacts Data Warehouse (EDW): “IDEA Part B Child Count and Educational Environments Collection,” 2018-19. https://go.usa.gov/xdp4T. Data for Wisconsin suppressed due to questionable data quality. Iowa does not use the specific disability categories when classifying a student as eligible for special education.]

By Office of Special Education Programs


We were overwhelmed by the positive feedback we got on our first release, OSEP Fast Facts: Children Identified With Autism, and are excited to present OSEP Fast Facts: Children Identified With Emotional Disturbance. For this Fast Fact, we present data from the 12 data collections authorized under IDEA Section 618 on children identified with a primary disability of emotional disturbance. Data presented includes that collected through Part B child count, educational environments, discipline and exiting data collections authorized under IDEA Section 618. 

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Voices From the Field: Interview with Alicia Brewer Curran

Alicia Brewer Curran

Alicia Brewer Curran works at the University of Missouri, where she is the director of operations for the Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) Autism Program, and serves as a parent panelist on three expert hub teams. Additionally, she is the family faculty member for the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program, program manager and quality improvement lead for the Autism Learning Health Network (AHLN), and the CDC’s Learn the Signs. Act Early. ambassador for Missouri. 


ED: How did you begin your career in early childhood?

My interest in early childhood began after my son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Due to lack of knowledge, I didn’t realize how concerned I should be about the differences I observed in his development, and I didn’t recognize that these differences were the early symptoms of autism. That resulted in my son losing out on two years of early intervention services.

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Ensuring an Inclusive Rapid Response to COVID-19

NOTE: 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program.

Logos for the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, Rehabilitation Services (MRS), and Bureau of Services for Blind Persons (BSBP)

By the Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) and Bureau of Services for Blind Persons (BSBP)


As the nation continues to adapt to the “new normal” brought on by COVID-19, so too do state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies. While the circumstances are unprecedented, VR’s nimbleness is not. Adapting during a pandemic is one more example of how the Michigan VR program has continually evolved to meet shifting needs over the course of its 100-year history.

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Adapting to Evolving Employment Needs in Ohio During the COVID-19 Pandemic

NOTE: 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program.

Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD)

By Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD)


Throughout its 100-year existence, the nation’s vocational rehabilitation (VR) program has continually adapted and evolved to meet changing public needs. This spirit is certainly evident today, as state VR agencies respond to the rapidly shifting employment landscape triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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A Picture of Success

NOTE: 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program.

Dillon Maestrejuan

Dillon Maestrejuan

By Nevada Vocational Rehabilitation


If a picture is worth a thousand words, Dillon Maestrejuan is a prolific storyteller, and he is turning a passion for photography into a promising career path with assistance from Nevada Vocational Rehabilitation (VR).

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Gaining Independence While Losing Your Eyesight as a Teen

NOTE: 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program.

Levi Welsch

Levi Welsch

By: Minnesota State Services for the Blind (SSB)


“It isn’t too scary,” Levi Welsch said, when asked how he felt about the possibility of his vision loss deteriorating in the future. “I am learning skills,” he said, “and I know that Minnesota State Services for the Blind (SSB) has my back.”

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