Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (TN IDDRC, UCEDD, LEND) TRIAD and TEIS Partnership Continues, Expands Early Intervention Services

July 7, 2021

The Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) has renewed its contract with Vanderbilt Kennedy Center's (TN IDDRC, UCEDD, LEND) Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD) to continue and expand a partnership with Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS). The $4 million grant will continue to be driven by a shared mission to facilitate quick access to high quality early assessment and intervention services.

TEIS is a voluntary educational program for infants and toddlers with disabilities that supports families through child development resources. The program uses community and family activities to encourage optimal development.

The seven-year partnership between TRIAD and TEIS has enabled the development of many novel models of service delivery for caregivers and providers, most notably telediagnostic models for early identification of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), subsequent education and support services for caregivers, and a catalogue of professional development and training opportunities for early intervention providers.

Over the next three years, the partnership will continue to focus on and expand two primary lines of service: professional development and coaching opportunities for providers, and follow-up education and support opportunities for caregivers.

 "Our current scope builds upon the important work completed and lessons learned during our long-term partnership with TEIS," said Alacia Stainbrook, Ph.D., BCBA-D, recently named co-director of TRIAD. "Our next steps are informed by both quantitative and qualitative data and we now are built to, very specifically and directly, serve the whole provider in order to best serve the whole family."

Along with Stainbrook, Mary Fleck, M.Ed., BCBA, and Kathleen Simcoe, M.Ed., BCBA, who recently were named associate directors of Early Intervention at TRIAD, will be spearheading this work.

Provider professional development and coaching opportunities for providers

A multi-tiered approach to training will be implemented to support providers in gaining increasingly advanced levels of knowledge and skills for best practices in teaching young children. Through this multi-tiered approach, providers will have access to training opportunities focused on building foundational knowledge of evidence-based practices to support young children with ASD and related developmental delays/disabilities within common challenges (e.g., communication, behavior, play, sleep, toilet training, etc.), professional learning communities targeting use of evidence-based practices to directly support the families they serve, and individualized coaching and consultation to establish services providers as expert resources in their home agencies.

"We are excited to expand upon our existing professional development opportunities for community providers said Stainbrook. Within each offering, the content will be driven by the immediate needs and priorities of the participants, Added opportunities for coaching and consultation will help service providers individualize support for families on their caseloads as well as share strategies and resources to facilitate dissemination of evidence-based practices  to others within their agency."

Follow-up Education and Support Opportunities for Caregivers

A six-visit follow-up education and support service will be offered to approximately 150 families residing in the Northwest, Southwest, Greater Nashville, and South Central districts of Tennessee who have a child recently evaluated for ASD through a traditional or telediagnostic consult model at TRIAD. The focus of this service will be to identify family priority areas of need and to provide subsequent education and support to caregivers to address these needs.

Expanding Access

"We're also thrilled to pilot an extension of our follow-up caregiver education and support services into the East Tennessee region, said Stainbrook. "Follow-up caregiver education and support services will also be offered to 20 families across the Upper Cumberland, East Tennessee, Southeast and First Tennessee districts. These services will initially be available to four partner EIRAs, one in each district, with potential for extension over the course of the three-year grant cycle."

Additionally, interpretation and translation services will be available for a small number of Spanish-speaking families referred to TRIAD for psychological evaluation and subsequent TRIAD follow-up caregiver education and support services. The interpreter will collaborate with the TRIAD consultant to interview the family, provide caregiver training, and translate materials.