Campus: CSU, Dominguez Hills -- March 3, 1999

CSUDH Seeks Credential Candidates To Work With Disabled, At-Risk Children; Offers Full Scholarships Under U.S. Dept. Of Education Grant

CSU Dominguez Hills' School of Education is seeking 32 qualified applicants for full scholarships in an early childhood special education credentials program designed to bring ethnically diverse teachers together with children-- from birth to five years of age-- who are disabled or at risk.

Applicants who are bilingual or who have good "signing" skills also are urged to apply for the scholarships by the deadline of April 16, 199. Prospective teachers as well as speech/language pathologists and school psychologists may enter the program, conducted in collaboration with the University Affiliated Program at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. All applicants must have bachelor's degrees.

"The need for well-trained people to teach very young children with disabilities is great," said project director Doris Okada, CSUDH professor of graduate education, "but the need for minority and linguistically diverse teachers to work with similarly diverse children is nothing short of critical."

Designed to make the training accessible to working people, the program awards scholarships primarily to part-time and evening students. The scholarships cover books, fees and conferences. "We want our students to be kept abreast of all the latest developments in their field," Okada said.

Help continues even after graduates receive their credentials, she added. A mentor is assigned to each graduate "to counsel, answer questions and make the transition from studies to actual work as smooth as possible."

Scholarship awards, to be made in June, will initiate the second wave of credential candidates entering the four-year U.S. Departmental of Education-funded program. The first wave of candidates began their studies in 1997; by summer of 1999, when they finish the credential requirements, they will be prepared to teach in public and private infant and pre-school programs.

The children so in need of trained teachers, she said, must cope with a range of disabilities. Some have mild cognitive, or perceptual, disabilities. Others are developmentally disabled. A number of the children have multiple disabilities. Still others are at risk; their parents may be disabled themselves, or may have exposed them to drugs. Okada has noticed an alarming increase in the number of deaf or hearing-impaired children served by the CSUDH Infant-Toddler Development Center, prompting the call for applicants who can "sign."

Program enrollees take the same core curriculum as other special education credential candidates, but their specialty area includes hands-on training both at the Children's Hospital, the Infant-Toddler Development Center and public school programs. Guided by experienced educators, medical doctors, psychologists, therapists and other professionals, trainees learn how to work with children and their families.

The CSUDH program is the only one in California offering full scholarships for so many early childhood special education credential candidates, Okada said. Other programs can accept only a few candidates. Program graduates tend to be hired immediately, she added, due to the shortage of qualified personnel.

Those interested in applying for early childhood special education credentials should call the Graduate Education Department at (310) 243-3524.

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