Campus: CSU Northridge -- July 03, 2001

CSUN Special Education Professor Receives Outstanding Achievement in Equity and Diversity Award

Cal State Northridge special education professor Deborah Chen received the university's 2001 Outstanding Achievement in Equity and Diversity Award for her efforts to help families of young children with disabilities and to educate service providers about their roles in helping these families.

The award was established 10 years ago by the Presidential Advisory Board on Equity and Diversity to recognize and honor outstanding contributions to equity and diversity within the CSUN community.

"I want families of young children with disabilities to understand their child's educational rights and learn how to negotiate the education system so that they can access appropriate services for their children," Chen said.

"My second goal," she added, "is to educate service providers about their significant roles and responsibilities in assisting families with young children with disabilities, and in ways to make their services family friendly and culturally respectful."

In presenting Chen with the award, CSUN President Jolene Koester said Chen's commitment to promoting equity and diversity at the university "is reflected in the depth and breadth of her accomplishments. Especially noteworthy has been her work with Project CRAFT."

Project CRAFT (Culturally Responsive and Family Focused Training) was a five-year federally-funded project to develop a model and materials for training service providers to work with a culturally diverse group of young children with disabilities and their families.

"The project supported our family and professional teams in providing in-service training to over 500 service providers in Head Start, school districts and private agencies that service young children with disabilities and their families," Chen said. "The CRAFT curriculum and materials are used in our courses in the Department of Special Education at CSUN."

As the chair of the personnel committee of the California First Chance Consortium and a member of the deaf-blind subcommittee of the Low Incidence Disabilities Advisory Committee, Chen's community involvement is related to personnel preparation in early childhood special education.

With a Ph.D. in special education from the joint doctoral program at the University of California, Berkeley, and San Francisco State University, Chen joined CSUN's Special Education Department in 1990.

This fall, she will teach a course on the interdisciplinary strategies for working with infants who have multiple disabilities and their families.

Now a resident of Culver City, Chen was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica in the West Indies.

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