Region 4 Parent Technical Assistance Center
Newsletter Issue 21March 2014
In This Issue
Family-Centered Services in Early Learning
Play Therapy Goes Digital
Boost Communication with Social Media
Early Childhood Education Technology Research
Evidence Based Educational Practices that Improve Early Learning
Searching for Reliable Data?
Legal Update
Important Dates
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Quick Links

This Quarter in Region 4


We are thrilled to be sending you the first edition of our revised Region 4 PTAC Newsletter. Each quarter's newsletter will focus on a particular theme. These themes come from a list of 14 content areas that were required to be part of all of the PTAC projects. In addition to the newsletter, you will see these 14 content areas included in webinars, conference calls, newsletters, materials we distribute, meeting sessions, and other TA activities. This edition of our newsletter will focus on EARLY LEARNING, (this includes evidence-based education practices, school reform, outreach, data, family-centered services and technology).


The 14 content areas include:

  • Evidence-based education practices that improve early learning
  • Evidence-based education practices that improve school-aged outcomes 
  • Evidence-based education practices that improve post-secondary outcomes
  • College- and career-ready standards
  • College- and career-ready assessments
  • School reform efforts to improve student achievement and increase graduation rates
  • The use of data to inform instruction
  • The use of data to advance school reform efforts
  • Best practices in outreach
  • Best practices in family-centered services
  • Best practices in self-advocacy skill building
  • Best practices in nonprofit management
  • Best practices in the use of technology in service provision
  • Best practices in the use of technology in nonprofit management

Resource list related to the Parent Centers' Priorities

Family-Centered Services in Early Learning


Parents are essential partners in helping support and measure their child's progress in early childhood education.  Parent Centers can be instrumental in: increasing parents' effectiveness by supporting their
understanding of developmental milestones, enriching their awareness of resources available, building their confidence in understanding data, and encouraging parent engagement in their child's educational program. 


®       Family-Centered Principles are a set of interconnected beliefs and attitudes that shape directions of program philosophy and behavior of staff as they organize and deliver services to children and families. Core to family-centered services is sensitivity and respect for the culture and values of family members.  Resources about measuring child and family outcomes, sharing individual data with families, and more are on the Early Childhood TA Center (ECTA) website.


®       Let's Talk Transition! Family Engagement during the Transition to School is a new discussion board sponsored by the Harvard Family Research Project and The SEED Lab for those who support children of transition age (ages 4-6) and their families in order to locate, react to, and share resources as they work to improve the transition to school.  Parent centers can join.


®     Building the Legacy for Our Youngest Children. Transitioning from early intervention services (IDEA Part C) to preschool (Part B) or other appropriate services is an important step in a young child's life. Two NICHCY training modules are available for Parent Centers to use to help families understand Part C requirements for transition planning and activities that must occur as toddler's in early intervention approach their third birthday. Read more


®   Gateways to Two Generations: The Potential for Early Childhood Programs and Partnerships to Support Children and Parent Together (2014) looks at how early childhood programs are supporting families' educational success and economic security by providing more than just care and education for children in early childhood programs.


®    Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC) - Parent Centers can assist their Part C agency with recruitment of parents to serve on their state's ICC so that authentic "parent voices" are present to ensure family-centered services in their state. Some centers also provide training to ICC members in their states. Quarterly webinars related to ICC's and Sate Advisory panels are planned and offered by an OSEP workgroup. Webinar Archive

Play Therapy Goes Digital: There's an App for That!

Play therapy is routinely utilized with young children with a variety of disabilities.  The University of North Texas Center for Play Therapy asserts that, "play therapy is to children what counseling is to adults. Play therapy utilizes play, children's natural medium of expression, to help them express their feelings more easily through toys instead of words." 


A recent presentation by the University of Houston-Clear Lake provides guidance on some of the best play therapy apps for young learners in the categories of:  Audio/Music/Podcast; Books; Images; Video; Animations; Games/Puzzles; and Drawing Tools.   

Boost Communication with Social Media

Many organizations are against employees using social media in the workplace because they worry about time-wasting behavior and drains on productivity. However, using social media at work can drastically improve communication among staff. Read more...

Early Childhood Education Technology Research

Until now, there was very little data available on how technology is used in early childhood classrooms. To fill this gap, the Early Childhood Technology Collaborative (ECTC) decided to go to the source. In 2012, they surveyed teachers and administrators on how they choose and use different kinds of technology with children ages 2 - 8 years. 


Download the articleTechnology in ECE Classrooms: Results from the Early Childhood Education Technology Research¬ 

Evidence Based Educational Practices that Improve
Early Learning


®    Synthesis of IES Research on Early Intervention and Early Childhood Education(2013) describes what has been learned from recent research on early intervention and early childhood education related to early childhood classroom environments and general instructional practices, educational practices designed to impact children's academic and social outcomes, measuring young children's skills and learning, and professional development for early educators.


®    Position Statement on Early Childhood Science Education (2014) identifies key principles to guide the learning of science among young children and provides recommendations for supporting children's learning in early childhood settings.


®    Reflections on Play: A Resource Guide - features comments from experts about the importance of play in preschool.


®    Power of Pre-K.  UNC's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute researchers found Georgia's Pre-K Program produced significant positive outcomes for children in language, literacy, math, and general knowledge, regardless of family income level or English language skills. Bringing researched-based recommendations to pre-k programs is essential to ensuring their quality. Read more...


Teaching Tools for Young Children with Challenging Behavior - Parent Centers can share these practical strategies and free materials (handouts, worksheets, etc.) with parents and teachers to help with positive interventions and support for young children who are having challenging behaviors. A "Home Kit" of strategies and information for families is included.  The Tools were developed by the TA Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children (TACSEI) based on research and their experiences in Positive Behavior Support. Download your kit 



 Searching for Reliable Data?

Writing proposals and expanding community partnerships..."where do I find data on the needs of the children of various racial and ethnic groups, that my Parent Center should be serving?" is new data analysis tool that gives you public access to measures of child well-being and equity throughout the U.S. The website provides an interactive tool to obtain data and policy analysis on child well-being across racial and ethnic groups. Parent Centers can use this tool to improve access to services by addressing their gaps and systemic shortfalls or when seeking new projects and writing grant proposals. The data obtained in this website can equip your agency to become more informed advocates for all children their serving but especially for vulnerable or under-served children.


The site allows users to create customized profiles, rankings and maps that make data visual and digestible. It also features a neighborhood-level child opportunity index, the first of its kind, developed in partnership with the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University. This index allows users to view interactive maps of the opportunities that are available to children in their own neighborhoods; a story that is often strikingly different by race/ethnicity. In addition to providing this index and hundreds of standard data indicators broken down by race and ethnicity, this site generates unique, equity-focused indicators of known structural factors that influence disparities in healthy child development. It also allows users to drill down from the national level to smaller levels of geography such as metropolitan areas and school districts, and in some cases, down to the neighborhood level, providing pinpoint views of the often nuanced inequities present among children of various racial and ethnic groups.

           Recent Early Childhood Cases


Case name:  Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Cincinnati, Plaintiff v. Martin Wilhelmy, et al., Defendants, 689 F. Supp. 2d 970, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, 54 IDELR 58, 7 ECLPR 73, 110 LRP 12093


Critical issue in this case:  The ability to acquire oral language skills decreases significantly after age 5 giving the child a limited period of time to learn oral communication.  One hour of intervention services per month for a child with bilateral hearing impairments is not enough for a kindergartener to receive educational benefit.


Facts of the case:  A judge in Ohio found that a school district should be required to fund a child's private placement because the minimal services offered in a child's kindergarten IEP were inadequate. The child with bilateral hearing impairments only had a limited amount of time to acquire oral communication skills and the judge determined that the child needed intensive speech-language services in a segregated setting to receive an educational benefit. The judged noted that the ability to acquire oral language skills decreases significantly after age 5 giving the child a limited period of time to learn oral communication.  "The evidence shows that without intensive therapy, [the child] will be unable to close the gap between her receptive and expressive language skills," The judge noted that this gap would impede the child's academic progress as she advanced through school, as she would have trouble receiving and conveying information.



Case name:  Eastland Community Unit School District #308, Illinois State Educational Agency10 ECLPR 54, 112 LRP 57999, 2012-0536, November 24, 2012


Critical issues in this case:  (1) IEP goals must contain specific points of measurement and must have baselines.  Without being measurable, IEP goals are not appropriate and can result in a denial of FAPE. (2) If a recommendation is made to move a student to a more restrictive setting at least in part because of behavior issues, a BIP or measurable goals in the IEP should exist regarding behavior.


Facts of the case:   The school district wanted to change the placement of a kindergartener with autism from a general education setting with pullout services to a self-contained class. The parents filed due process, alleging that the IEPs lacked measurable goals because some goals lacked measurability, for example, "student will increase her attention to developmentally appropriate tasks and activities." Other goals lacked baselines. For example, the student "will improve functional communication skills by at least 9 months as measured by informal checklists." The present level stated: "the Student's speech and language skills are improving ... She is more verbal and has used a few words at school." The judge noted that the lack of appropriate goals constitutes a denial of FAPE if it impedes the student's right to an appropriate education. In this case, several goals were clearly not measurable because they lacked present levels of performance and did not provide criteria for assessment.

The IEPs also failed to adequately address the student's behaviors. The judge wrote, "None of the Student's IEPs contain a BIP or measurable goals to instruct her to develop skills to self-regulate her behavior and attend to large group activities even though she has been observed by staff as 'becoming overstimulated and frustrated when expected to sit and attend regular education classes,'" The district's statement that it did not believe the behaviors were significant enough to require a BIP were unsupportable, given that it was recommending moving her to a more restrictive setting.

Important Dates
Region 4 Nonprofit Management Webinar: Program Impact Booster
1:00 - 3:00 pm CST / 2:00 - 4:00 pm EST
Webinar: Parents Usine Data: Engaging the Community through Data Sharing
Presenter: Marsha Simon, Great Lakes Equity Center - 12:00-1:00 CST, 1:00-2:00 EST



Region 4 Webinar: Common Core Standards

Presented in collaboration with the North Central Regional Resource Center

1:00 - 3:00 pm CST / 2:00 - 4:00 pm EST



OSEP Continuation Reports Due



Special Region 4 Directors' Call with CPIR Advisory Council R4 reps

(Caryn, Ana, Jan) & CPIR External Evaluator, Pat Mueller -  2:00-3:00 CST, 3:00-4:00 EST



SAP/ICC Quarterly OSEP Webinar



Region 4 Cohort Call with David Emenheiser, OSEP Project Officer



Region 4 Webinar: Best Practices for Email Newsletters

Presented by Idealware, 1:00-3:00 CST, 2:00-4:00 EST



OSEP Quarterly Call with Melody Musgrove



Region 4 Webinar: Personnel Issues - Firing with Confidence

Presented by Attorney Keith Kopplin

1:00 - 2:30 pm CST / 2:00 - 3:30 pm EST



Region 4 Webinar: Measuring your Online Communications

Presented by Idealware, 1:00-3:00 CST, 2:00-4:00 EST

Region 4 Parent Technical Assistance Center (PTAC)
serving parent centers in: 
Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin
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The contents of this e-newsletter were developed under a grant from the US Department of Education,  #H328R130010. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department 
of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. Project Officer - David Emenheiser