Center on Disability Studies receives $1.4 million DOE grant

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Jennifer L. Parks, (808) 956-0416
Communications Coordinator, College of Education
Posted: Jan 18, 2012

The UH Mānoa College of Education Center on Disability Studies (CDS) was awarded a three-year $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Native Hawaiian Education Act Program for Project SPIRIT, Supporting Parents in Responsive Interactions and Teaching. The three main goals of the project are to help parents learn to use empirically proven, developmental principles for interacting with their preschool children; to improve the educational readiness and early developmental trajectories of local children from ages one to three; and to provide professional development for early childhood personnel from the predominantly native Hawaiian communities in Waimanalo and along the Waiʻanae Coast.
CDS Associate Director Jean Johnson, who is the principal investigator for the grant project, said, “Although less than four months old, the project is off to an impressive start, recruiting a very qualified project coordinator and partnering with the long-standing native Hawaiian organization Alu Like, Inc. to train four local paraprofessionals to implement the program's Responsive Teaching Curriculum (RTC).”
RTC is an evidence-based program that capitalizes on the unique and fundamental relationship between a parent and a child as the foundation for enhancing the child's cognitive development and social-emotional functioning. The aim of the curriculum is to promote, coordinate, and practice responsive interactions between the parent(s) and child. The program’s local trainers will go into the home or meet families at community gathering places for an hour each week to teach RTC principles and guide parents with their children based on their needs.
In October 2011, the project contracted RTC co-author, Dr. Gerald Mahoney of Case Western Reserve University, to conduct an intense four-day training for CDS staff and trainers at Alu Like's downtown facilities. Mahoney provided the team with comprehensive seminars on the theoretical background and overview of the RTC structure, implementation procedures, and effective use of the program’s tools.
“This training laid the foundation for a project that can make a real difference in hundreds of families’ lives over the next three years and hopefully permeate positive change throughout the communities for some time to come,” said Johnson.