Voices From the Field: Interview with Mona Qafisheh

Power to the Early Childhood Education Profession

Mona Qafisheh

Mona serves as the director of grants and contracts with the Association for Supportive Child Care which provides early childhood coaching, assessment, and professional development to early childhood professionals, and education for family, friends, and neighbor caregivers and families. Mona’s role includes supporting the organization through the granting lifecycle from identification of potential funding through reporting. Mona also serves as the president-elect for the Arizona Association for the Education of Young Children.


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

My career in early childhood education began like many others’ have. When I was 19, I needed a job and the only place that would hire me was a child care center. I worked as a camp counselor for 9 and 10-year olds through high school and figured working with toddlers would be a piece of cake. Spoiler alert: working with toddlers isn’t a piece of cake! But it was the most rewarding job I’ve ever had and inspired my love for young children and began my now almost 20-year commitment to them and their families. Also, like many of my peers in early childhood I began my career with a few college credits and was barely able to make ends meet financially. Those early teaching years have made me an advocate for high quality infant and toddler care, livable wages, and accessible, affordable higher education for early childhood educators who are often non-traditional students.

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Federal Partnerships Creating Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

logo: Internal Revenue Service (IRS)logo: National Employment Team (NET)

By Kathy West-Evans, Director of Business Relations, CSAVR


VR and the IRS: A Partnership that Produces Positive Returns

To fulfill its workforce needs across multiple states, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) partners with the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation’s (CSAVR) National Employment Team (NET), and the relationship is producing positive returns for the agency and candidates with disabilities alike. 

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Voices From the Field: Interview with Justin Brown

A Father’s Engagement

Justin Brown

Justin Brown is an adoptive father of a 4-year-old boy, and a foster father to two 2-year-old boys. He works as a youth minister for St. Agnes Parish in Dalton, MA and is the co-director of Camp Holy Cross in Goshen, MA. Justin first became involved in early intervention when his 4-year-old was referred for services at 18-months-old. He has become a strong advocate for the strengths and needs of his children and enjoys wrestling, cooking, and going for walks with them.

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Impact Stories — Joe McFadden

Throughout June we will celebrate the graduating high school class of 2020. This final blog in the series highlights a student from a private high school in Maryland.


Congratulations Graduate! A Spotlight on Joe McFadden.

Joe McFadden

By Pauline Peticlerc and Joe McFadden

Joe was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old. He did not speak until age five, and we were told he may never learn to potty train. Fortunately, he was born with great fortitude and never let his disability stand in his way.

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OSEP Releases Fast Facts: Infants and Toddlers With Disabilities

Header: OSEP Office of Special Education Programs. Title: OSEP Fast Facts: Infants and Toddlers With Disabilities. Body: Percent of percent of the population, ages birth through 2, served under IDEA, Part C in the United States: 2018-19. Image shows U.S. map. Separate text box reads: The percent of the population, receiving early intervention services under IDEA, Part C, for the United States and Outlying Areas is 3.48%. Source: U.S. Department of Education, EDFacts Metadata and Process System (EMAPS): "IDEA Part C Child Count and Settings," 2018-19. https://go.usa.gov/xd6j9. These data are a snapshot count collected by states in the fall of the identified year. U.S. Bureau of the Census. "2018 State Population Estimates by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin". Data accessed July 2019 from http://www.census.gov/popest

By the Office of Special Education Program

In 2018–2019, 409,315 Infants and toddlers, birth through age 2, with disabilities and their families received early intervention services under IDEA Part C.

Our new Fast Fact: Infants and Toddlers With Disabilities takes a closer look at what our 618 data tells us about this population. For this Fast Fact, we present data from the data collections authorized under IDEA Section 618 on Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities who receive early intervention services under IDEA Part C. Data presented includes that collected through child count, settings, and exiting data collections.

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Impact Stories — Way2Work Maryland

Throughout June, we will celebrate the graduating high school class of 2020. This third blog in the series highlights two students from Maryland’s Way2Work program. Stay tuned as the graduates featured in this blog will also be part of the VR 100 webinar series in August.  


Congratulations graduates! A spotlight on Way2Work Maryland participants

Way2Work logo


Way2Work Maryland is a partnership between the University of Maryland’s Center for Transition and Career Innovation and the Division of Rehabilitation Services through the Maryland State Department of Education. It is a project designed to improve the academic and career success of students with disabilities in Maryland through work-based learning experiences. The project serves students with either an Individualized Education Program or a 504 Plan who will complete high school with a diploma or certificate.

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Impact Stories — Project SEARCH

Throughout June we will celebrate the graduating class of 2020.
This second blog in the series highlights three students who participated in the District of Columbia public schools’ Project SEARCH program.


Congratulations graduates! A spotlight on DC’s Project SEARCH participants

Project SEARCH logo

By Sah Brown, Principal, Eastern High School; and Aimeé Cepeda, Ed.D., Principal, River Terrace Education Campus, DC Public Schools

Project SEARCH is a one-year “school-to-work” transition program designed to prepare DCPS adult students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities for competitive employment. Project SEARCH interns receive daily instruction in employability skills and gain hands-on work experiences by rotating among three 10-week unique paid internships at a one of four Hilton Worldwide host site locations. The goal for each student is competitive, integrated employment by the end of the experience.

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Impact Stories — Unified Schools/Special Olympics

Throughout June, OSERS will celebrate the graduating high school class of 2020.
This first blog in the series highlights three students who participated in the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program.


Congratulations Graduates! A Spotlight on Participants of Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools

logo - Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools

By Andrea Cahn, Project Director & Vice President for Unified Champion Schools

The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program is aimed at promoting social inclusion through intentionally planned and implemented activities affecting systems-wide change. With sports as the foundation, the three-component model offers a unique combination of effective activities that equip young people with tools and training to create sports, classroom and school climates of acceptance. These are school climates where students with disabilities feel welcome and are routinely included in, and feel a part of, all activities, opportunities and functions.


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Success Stories: Kelsey Redding

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

Vocational rehabilitation helps student gain confidence and discover passion for public speaking

Kelsey Redding

By Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation
(part of the Adult Learning & Rehabilitation Services, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education)


Kelsey Redding wasn’t sure if Missouri’s vocational rehabilitation was right for her when she first became aware of the program. She had been going through a difficult time in her life, living first with a friend and then with a married couple who worked as teachers at her high school. She had no confidence she would even be able to get a job.

However, Kelsey persisted and participated in a VR work experience during the summer between her junior and senior years at East Carter High School in Ellsinore, Missouri. She started out as a shelf stocker at a Town & Country grocery store then moved up to working as a checker.

“Having a job felt really good,” she said, “especially saving money up for a car.”

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Reflecting Towards Success

Remote education and supporting elementary and secondary students with disabilities during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Cross-posted from the Office of Ed Tech


Understanding how to best address the needs of students with disabilities during extended school building closures is a challenging task. Students with disabilities in elementary and secondary schools include those who have an individualized education program (IEP) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and students who are not IDEA-eligible but who have disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (Title II) and are receiving services as outlined in the Section 504 regulations (often referred to as a Section 504 Plan).

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