Nov 24, 2008, in Student News
A new grant in the amount of $800,000 has been awarded to researchers in the USC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), an agency of the U.S. Department of Education.
The grant, which will run from 2008 to 2013, is titled “Training Occupational Therapy Specialists” (or TOTS) and will be used to prepare entry-level occupational therapy students in the Division’s master’s program to work in typical early intervention settings including homes, day care centers, pre-schools and kindergartens. The students participating in TOTS will acquire skills to provide services to children from birth to 5 years of age who have disabilities or are at risk for disability.
The new grant, the type of which is for related service personnel preparation, will provide an apprenticeship model approach. Each year, the TOTS project will assign 15 selected USC occupational therapy students in the second year of their master’s program to a part-time fieldwork site. The students will be mentored by a clinical instructor in working with infants, toddlers and young children who are eligible for early intervention services. These hands-on, practical experiences will be supplemented with classroom learning, as students will take elective courses in school-based OT practice focusing on early intervention, preschool and early elementary interventions. In addition to the fieldwork mentoring, TOTS trainees will receive a $10,000 scholarship to support their participation. The first cohort will enter the project in the 2009–2010 academic year.
Project Director for TOTS will be Diane Hammon Kellegrew PhD, OTR/L, associate professor of clinical occupational therapy in the USC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. She is a widely known expert in early intervention who has been serving as Director of the USC School-Based Occupational Therapy Project. Working with her will be Jean Pacifico-Banta OTD, OTR/L, who will serve as project coordinator and assist with field site logistics. Additionally, Pacifico-Banta continues to work with Kellegrew on the School-Based Grant. Also part of TOTS will be Associate Professor Ann Neville-Jan PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, assistant chair of the division. Neville-Jan helped write the grant proposal and will serve as grant advisor on issues related to cultural and disability studies, her area of specialty.
“The TOTS grant is different than past school-based grants USC has had through the U.S. Department of Education in that this topic is to train entry-level master’s students to work in early intervention settings with children between the ages of birth to 5 years of age,” explained Kellegrew. “This grant complements the other USC training grants focused on services for children in schools. With this training grant, USC OT students will now have the opportunity for comprehensive training in working with children with disabilities across the age spectrum covered under IDEA, from birth to 22 years of age. Our early intervention community partners are thrilled to be a part of this unique project, as training for this age population is rarely available for entry level OT students.”