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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

Applications for New Awards: Technical Assistance and Dissemination To Improve Services and Results for Children With Disabilities; Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

AGENCY: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Department of Education.
ACTION: Notice.

Overview Information Technical Assistance and Dissemination To Improve Services and Results for Children With Disabilities--Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

Notice inviting applications for new awards for fiscal year (FY) 2012.

DATES: Deadline for Transmittal of Applications:July 19, 2012.
Full Text of AnnouncementI. Funding Opportunity Description

Purpose of Programs:The purpose of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities program is to promote academic achievement and to improve results for children with disabilities by providing technical assistance (TA), supporting model demonstration projects, disseminating useful information, and implementing activities that are supported by scientifically based research.

Priority:In accordance with 34 CFR 75.105(b)(2)(v), this priority is from allowable activities specified in the statute or otherwise authorized in the statute (see sections 663 and 681(d)of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1463 and 1481(d)).

Absolute Priority:For FY 2012 and any subsequent year in which we make awards from the list of unfunded applicants from this competition, this priority is an absolute priority. Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3) we consider only applications that meet this priority.

This priority is:Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center.Background: The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is committed to ensuring that all infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities receive effective services in natural environments and inclusive settings that promote positive developmental and learning outcomes. Effective services depend on: (1) The quality of early intervention programs authorized under Part C of IDEA and preschool programs authorized under Part B of IDEA; (2) the coordination of these programs with each other and with other early childhood programs that serve infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families; and (3) the capacity of early childhood programs to scale up and sustain effective implementation components to support the use of evidence-based interventions at the local program level. OSEP has supported the implementation of IDEA Part C early intervention services and Part B preschool services by funding technical assistance (TA) centers that have helped States strengthen their State and local systems and build the capacity of providers to improve developmental and learning outcomes for infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families. OSEP will further this work by funding a cooperative agreement to support the establishment and operation of an Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (Center). The Center will support States in administering high-quality and effective IDEA Part C early intervention and Part B preschool programs through TA and recommendations for practice.

In recent years, States have faced a growing number of challenges as they implement the IDEA Part C early intervention and Part B preschool programs. In addition to the economic and fiscal challenges at the State and local levels, States are seeing an increase in the number of infants, toddlers, and preschool children with complex needs who are eligible for services under IDEA Part C early intervention and Part B preschool programs (Part C State Performance Plan (SPP)/Annual Performance Report (APR) 2011 Indicator Analyses, FFY 2009-10; Part B SPP/APR 2011 Indicator Analyses, FFY 2009-10). Moreover, given the complexity of and interplay between these programs, many States struggle with difficult systems issues, such as: (1) Ensuring that all children eligible for services under Part C of IDEA are identified and evaluated or screened; (2) maximizing all available funding sources for IDEA Part C services; (3) improving transition services for children who are first served under an IDEA Part C program and then receive IDEA Part B preschool services; (4) collecting valid and reliable child and family outcome data under IDEA Part C early intervention and Part B preschool programs to inform program improvement; and (5) coordinating with other early childhood programs (Infant and Toddler Coordinators Association Tipping Points Survey, 2011; Part C SPP/APR 2011 Indicator Analyses, FFY 2009-10; Part B SPP/APR 2011 Indicator Analyses, FFY 2009-10).

To meet the challenges of implementing IDEA Part C early intervention and Part B preschool programs, program administrators must understand the elements that are necessary to implement high-quality early intervention and preschool programs effectively and efficiently. Ensuring that Part C early intervention and Part B preschool programs are coordinating with other early childhood programs in a State is one such element that could increase a program's effectiveness and efficiency. However, developing a coordinated and integrated early childhood system within a State is a significant challenge because there are multiple early childhood programs (e.g., IDEA Part C early intervention; IDEA Part B preschool; Head Start; Early Head Start; child care; State-funded Pre-K programs) administered by different agencies with different policies, procedures, and funding streams, and infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities are often served by more than one of these programs at a time. Overcoming this overarching challenge to provide a coordinated and integrated early childhood system is critical to ensuring that infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families receive high-quality services from the array of early childhood programs that are available to serve them. As States continue to work towards designing and implementing a coordinated and integrated system of early childhood programs and services through such initiatives as the Race To the Top--Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC), it is critical that support be provided to the IDEA Part C early intervention and Part B preschool programs to assist them in aligning resources and policies across multiple levels (e.g., State, regional, local) of the early childhood service system. Such support would help these programs reduce inefficiencies across early childhood programs, and improve the quality of services for infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families.

A challenge at the local program level is the lack of adequately trained personnel who can implement effective services and evidence-based interventions, suggesting that infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities may not be achieving the learning and developmental outcomes that are possible (Bruder, 2010; Odom, 2009). In surveys of State Part C and Part B, Section 619 Coordinators, respondents have expressed concern that personnel who work with infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families are not adequately trained (Bruder, Mogro-Wilson, Stayton, & Dietrich, 2009). Furthermore, although the Division of Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children's (DEC)recommended practices for personnel working with infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families is a valuable resource on intervention practices used by the field, that resource needs to be updated to include current research on implementing high-quality, coordinated, and integrated early childhood systems; effective services; and evidence-based interventions.

IDEA Part C early intervention and Part B, Section 619 program administrators must ensure that their programs and providers are delivering effective services and evidence-based interventions. To do so, States must have "implementation components" in place at the State and local levels to support providers in using effective services and evidence-based interventions. "Implementation components" are the organizational supports that allow providers to develop the competence needed to implement effective services and evidence-based interventions in the way they were designed to be delivered (Fixsen, Blase, Horner, & Sugai, 2009). Examples of implementation components include professional development and training, ongoing consultation and coaching, performance assessments, data systems to support decision making, administrative support to ensure personnel have the resources and skills they need to implement interventions, and systems that align policies and funding mechanisms across multiple levels (e.g., State, regional, local) (Fixsen et al., 2009). Once implementation components are in place and the system's capacity to implement effective services and evidence-based interventions is established, the State will be better equipped to implement, scale up, and sustain a range of effective services and evidence-based interventions across multiple programs (Fixsen et al., 2009).

Establishing high-quality, effective and efficient IDEA Part C early intervention and Part B preschool programs that are coordinated and integrated with other early childhood programs and that have the capacity to support providers in implementing effective services and evidence-based interventions for infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families, requires changes to a State's early childhood services system at multiple levels. TA has been identified as a strategy to facilitate these changes (Blase, 2009). Recognizing the complexity of systems change, particularly with respect to a system as complex as the system of services through which early childhood services are provided, intensive TA is needed at the State level so that a State can overcome challenges and support local early childhood programs in delivering evidence-based, high-quality, effective, coordinated, and integrated services and interventions to improve developmental and learning outcomes for infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families.

Priority:Under this priority, the Department will fund a cooperative agreement to establish and operate an Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (Center) to support States in administering IDEA Part C early intervention and Part B preschool programs. Specifically, the Center will provide TA to States to assist them in: (1) Implementing high-quality, effective, and efficient IDEA Part C early intervention and Part B preschool programs; (2) coordinating the IDEA Part C early intervention and Part B preschool programs with one another as well as with other early childhood programs in the State; and (3) implementing effective services and evidence-based interventions in early childhood programs that result in positive developmental and learning outcomes for infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families.

In addition, the Center will develop a set of empirically supported recommendations for practice on: (1) Policies that promote a high-quality, coordinated, and integrated system of early childhood programs; and (2) services and interventions that result in positive developmental and learning outcomes for infants, toddlers, and preschool children with disabilities and their families.

With additional funding in years two through five, the Center will increase its scope of work and assist States in continued development and refinement of the State's child and family outcomes measurement systems for the IDEA Part C early intervention and Part B preschool programs.

To be considered for funding under this absolute priority, applicants must meet the application requirements contained in this priority. Any project funded under this absolute priority also must meet the programmatic and administrative requirements specified in the priority.

Application Requirements.An applicant must include in its application--

(a) A logic model that depicts, at a minimum, the goals, activities, outputs, and outcomes of the proposed project. A logic model communicates how a project will achieve its outcomes and provides a framework for both the formative and summative evaluations of the project;

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Julia Martin Eile, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 4056, Potomac Center Plaza (PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2600. Telephone: (202) 245-7431.

If you use a TDD or a TTY, call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

VIII. Other Information

Accessible Format:Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document and a copy of the application package in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or compact disc) by contacting the Grants and Contracts Services Team, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 5075, PCP, Washington, DC 20202-2550. Telephone: (202) 245-7363. If you use a TDD or a TTY, call the FRS, toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

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Dated: June 13, 2012. Alexa Posny, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
ACTION: 4The ECTA Consortium includes national projects that are funded by the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services that provide TA in support of States' efforts in building coordinated early learning and development systems. The purpose of the consortium is to: coordinate early childhood TA efforts that support States in building and sustaining their systems for early learning and development; share knowledge and resources for improving the delivery and impact of TA; identify strategies for working collaboratively; enhance each other's TA efforts; and explore options to leverage resources to benefit respective constituencies.