Preservice preparation of special educators to serve infants with handicaps and their families: Current status and training needs
The rapid increase in services for infants with handicaps and their famiies has heightened the need for qualified special education professionals. This article reports the results of a telephone survey to a random sample of preservice training programs, a mail survey sent to programs with an infancy or early childhood focus, and a working conference with leaders in infant personnel preparation. The purpose of those activities was to determine the current status of preparing special educators to work with infants and toddlers with handicaps, as well as with their families, and to identify current needs for training materials and curricula associated with that effort. Results indicated that typical students receive very little content related to infants or families in either undergraduate or graduate special education. Substantially more coverage was found in programs specializing in infancy or early childhood; furthermore, programs with an infancy focus (0-3 years) had more infancy coverage than did programs with a broader early childhood focus (0-5 years). No differences between early childhood and infancy programs were found in family assessment and intervention. The small number of graduates found in specialized programs, however, is not likely to meet the need for qualified professionals. Implications of the findings for training and materials development are discussed.