State Highlights 02/01/10 to 09/30/10

The Colorado SpecialQuest State Leadership Team was reenergized this spring as they reflected on their accomplishments and began planning next steps for the future. The National Leadership SpecialQuest meeting held in April 2010 provided a wonderful opportunity for the State Leadership Team and invited staff from the Colorado Pyramid Plus Center to further gel their ideas on high quality inclusion practices and how to support inclusion through professional development activities in the state. The team’s major accomplishments include:



One outcome of the SpecialQuest State Leadership Team’s vision and collaboration has been the development of, and partnership with, the Pyramid Plus Center on Social-Emotional Competence and Inclusion to integrate the SpecialQuest approach and materials into the scope of the Center’s work and practices. The Pyramid Plus Center brings together four initiatives: The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL), The Technical AssistanceCenter on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children (TACSEI), Building Blocks, and SpecialQuest Birth–Five, and iscompleting the first of a three-year state funded grant. Much of the SpecialQuest collaborative efforts this past year have been to support the Center’s planning and start up activities. SpecialQuest State Leadership Team members and SpecialQuest staff have supported Center staff training on the SpecialQuest approach and materials, and evaluation tools and strategies. State Leadership Team members serve on the Center’s Advisory Board as well as various planning workgroups. Several Pyramid Plus Center staff/advisory council members also attended the Fall 2009 SpecialQuest Training of Trainers in Colorado. Pyramid Plus Center staff, trainers, and coaches were oriented to the SpecialQuest approach and materials and State Leadership Team activities via a webinar. SpecialQuest, Pyramid Plus, and the Colorado Office of Professional Development staff members trained facilitators to implement the Community Perceptions of Inclusive Practices (CPIP) process with new Community Teams, including Pyramid Plus Center demonstration sites and Early Childhood Councils. In addition, the Pyramid Plus Center Advisory Board plans to use the SpecialQuest State Perceptions of Inclusive Practice (SPIP) tool and process in their ongoing assessment of their progress in promoting
inclusive practices.

Another accomplishment of the Colorado State Leadership Team has been to embed the SpecialQuest approach, materials, and resources on inclusion into their Statewide System of Professional Development. In 2008, the team reviewed and adopted the Early Childhood Colorado Framework spearheaded by the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, which outlined four domains of learning, outcomes for children and families, and strategies for achieving those outcomes. In 2009, the State Leadership Team adopted the definition of inclusion that was jointly developed by the Division of Early Childhood (DEC) of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). They developed a Colorado SpecialQuest brochure and conducted at least six webinars and other online coursework that incorporated the SpecialQuest approach, materials, and other resources on inclusion. The goals of the Pyramid Plus Center and SpecialQuest State Leadership Team are embedded in the Early Childhood Colorado Framework and Strategic plan for Early Intervention in Colorado. The State Leadership Team, Community Team members and participants of the Colorado SpecialQuest Training of Trainers have conducted local, regional, state, and national sessions on SpecialQuest. They also created a new strand titled, “SpecialQuest Inclusion” for the 2010 Colorado Association for the Education of Young Children (CAEYC) conference. This effort was very well received and will continue to be a part of CAEYC in 2011.


In September 2009, at least six higher education faculty attended the SpecialQuest Training of Trainers in Colorado. During the SpecialQuest Training of Trainers, they developed plans for reviewing and revising existing coursework in early childhood care and education. Their plans resulted in the revision of at least five Early Childhood state mandated courses at the Associate degree level. They plan to continue their review of Bachelor’s degree level coursework as they pursue the application to meet NAEYC standards.


Another impact of SpecialQuest at the policy level has been the change in child care licensing regulations and required units of coursework for child care providers and administrators of child care programs. Letters were sent on behalf of the Colorado State Leadership Team to the Director of the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) Division of Child Care in support of recommended changes to the licensing regulations for child care center director qualifications. Recommendations have been adopted, which included new requirements for providers to complete two new courses focusing on “Exceptional Children” and “Infant/Toddler Development” for a total of six required units.


The Colorado SpecialQuest Community Teams are Eagle County Early Head Start and First Steps (Starpoint) Early Head Start/Developmental Opportunities. Both Community Teams have played an active role serving on the State Leadership Team and in their communities, promoting high quality inclusive practices. In Eagle County, Community Team members completed the CPIP process, acknowledging significant changes in their Part C/early intervention system. As a result of completing the CPIP process, the Eagle County Community Team identified one major goal: to improve early identification and referral for assessment and services for young children with or at risk of having a disability. In one year’s
time, the team was able to document that they had increased the referral rate to early intervention by 400%.


The First Steps Community Team has had an Early Childhood Council that has been meeting since 1978, and as a result, their system is well structured for inclusion. SpecialQuest has been embedded in program practices and is a standing agenda item during weekly meetings on Program Quality Assurance. The Community Team completed the CPIP process and identified family involvement and leadership as a major goal. Staff identified new parent leaders, reviewed SpecialQuest videos (Embrace Possibilities and Christopher’s Story) and identified strategies for families to prepare and practice sharing their personal stories in trainings and other leadership opportunities. Families received mentoring and practice in story telling in preparation for sharing in large group trainings and meetings.


In addition to the new Pyramid Plus Center, the Colorado SpecialQuest State Leadership Team will sustain the SpecialQuest cross-systems work on inclusion through the development of an Early Childhood Inclusion Consortium, which will meet on a quarterly basis. Leadership has been identified and planning is underway to expand team membership. A logic model was drafted to guide the Consortium’s work with the intent to use the areas of focus from the SPIP tool (i.e., inclusion of young children, family partnership and leadership, teaming and collaboration, and Continuous Improvement/sustainability).



State Highlights 04/01/09 to 01/31/10

The Colorado State Leadership Team currently has 21 members. The Colorado team is working on the following areas of focus:

Recent highlights of the Colorado State Leadership Team:

The SpecialQuest State Leadership Team Communities in Colorado are Eagle County Early Head Start in Eagle County, and First Steps (Starpoint) Early Head Start/Developmental Opportunities in Cañon City. The communities receive quarterly site visits from the SpecialQuest Coaches. Both communities play an active role on the State Leadership Team workgroups and in their communities.


Recent highlights of Eagle County Early Head Start:


Recent highlights of First Steps (Starpoint) Early Head Start/Developmental Opportunities:



State Summary 10/01/08 to 03/31/09

Colorado's State Leadership Team currently has 17 team members, with a few changes in team membership anticipated in the next few months. Five of the team members are parents of children with disabilities and have contributed the family perspective in State Leadership Team activities. The Team is exploring how they might include additional family members to support their work. The State Leadership Team Liaison continues to demonstrate strong leadership, and represents the Office of Professional Development. Her position is currently funded under the Part C system, where her Liaison responsibilities are clearly specified in her work plan. The Co-Liaison, who has brought strong leadership to the team, will resign as the Colorado Head Start Collaboration Director in April to assume a new Head Start Technical Assistance (TA) position for the state. In the interim, she will support the Lieutenant Governor's Office to identify a replacement for her position. It is hoped that both of these Head Start positions can support the future work of the State Leadership Team.


The Colorado State Leadership Team is organized into workgroups around each of the three strategic action plans. The workgroups meet between the quarterly meetings for planning and implementation. The action plans have been updated and embedded in a strategic planning format used in Colorado.


  1. Disseminate public awareness information to develop, promote, and support professional development and formal education on inclusion.

    A new plan was developed in the area of public awareness in January 2009. This plan builds on the Colorado Early Childhood Framework document, which was disseminated in July 2008. The plan outlines steps for using the Early Childhood Colorado Framework to develop, promote, and support the availability of high quality, team-based, professional development and formal education for adults (all families and professionals) working with young children.

    The State Leadership Team will use national information and resources on inclusion, along with the SpecialQuest approach and materials, to increase public awareness of SpecialQuest and inclusive practices statewide. They intend to use the new position paper on inclusion that is endorsed by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and The Division for Early Childhood (DEC).

    The plan includes identifying strategies for communicating guiding principles for inclusion, which promote inclusive opportunities for young children with disabilities and their families within communities. Key activities include:


    • The development of public awareness materials (brochure, PowerPoint, key messages)
    • Hosting and recording webinar activities
    • Providing a Training of Trainers in September 2009
    • Embedding these activities in future statewide professional development opportunities.

    This workgroup intends to take advantage of the use of SpecialQuest financial and consultant resources to implement their work. They have also disseminated the SpecialQuest Multimedia Training Library to faculty and begun training on how to embed the SpecialQuest resources in college coursework.

  2. Identify resources and data related to professional development in the state.
    This workgroup has continued work on statewide resource mapping and development of an electronic survey. They are using doctoral student support, as well as SpecialQuest evaluation resources to support their activities.

  3. Impact state-level systems.
    At the policy level, this workgroup was successful in implementing changes in childcare licensing requirements for childcare administrators and providers. Licensure requirements now include mandated college courses on children with special needs as part of the 15-hour coursework requirements. The team also anticipates new changes in state legislation that will support this.


Representatives of the two Graduate Team Communities on the State Leadership Team from Eagle and Fremont Counties continue to play an active and valued role in State Leadership Team meetings, workgroup meetings, conference calls, and planning activities. Both communities were represented in the SpecialQuest planning and presentation at the Head Start Association Conference in February 2009. They also played an active role in more recent public awareness workgroup activities including the development of the webinar.


The SpecialQuest Ambassadors for Colorado representing Eagle County and Otero Community College have been involved in quarterly State Leadership Team meetings. They continue to share informative updates on Graduate Team Community contacts, current practices in the field, Ambassador action plans and other related SpecialQuest activities.


Another exciting development at the policy level (which emerged at the January 2009 State Leadership Team meeting) was the request for input from the Child Care Administrator regarding funding, and the creation of a new Center/Institute to support and sustain the work in Colorado, the Center for Social-Emotional Foundations of Early Learning (CSEFEL) initiative, and the SpecialQuest Birth–Five work on inclusive practices. A Request for Proposal (RFP) has been developed with input of both national projects and collaborative funding across state systems. A contractor is anticipated to be selected and funded beginning July 2009.



State Summary 04/01/08 to 9/30/08

Colorado's State Leadership Team currently has 17 members. At least three of the team members are also parents of children with disabilities. In addition to the required representation (Head Start, Child Care, Family Leaders, Part C, Part B/619, and Institutions of Higher Education), membership also includes a Nurse Consultant from the Colorado Department of Public Health, an Early Childhood Specialist from the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, and several community college and university instructors who bring linkages to other early childhood professional development activities. The Liaison represents the states' Office of Professional Development. She has been involved with the Center on Social-Emotional Foundations and Early Learning (CSEFEL) and the Smart Start State Initiatives. The Co-Liaison, the Head Start Collaboration Director who works out of the Lieutenant Governor's Office, brings knowledge of many state early childhood activities and priorities already underway.


The Colorado State Leadership Team has developed three action plans:





There are two SpecialQuest State Leadership Team Communities: Eagle County Early Head Start, and First Steps Early Head Start/Developmental Opportunities in Canon City (now referred to as "Fremont County/Starpoints" since that is the broader community area they represent). These two team communities are working to expand the SpecialQuest approach to birth–five and are completing the Community Perceptions of Inclusive Practices annually. The communities receive quarterly site visits from the SpecialQuest Coaches and are represented on the State Leadership Team.



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