Improving Systems, Practices, and Outcomes

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aRPy Ambassador Program: A Unique Partnership

aRPy Ambassador Program represents a unique partnership between the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA), the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) of the Council for Exceptional Children and the Region B Parent Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) at Parent to Parent of Georgia. The aim of the aRPy Ambassador program is to bring awareness and support to the dissemination and use of the DEC Recommended Practices (RPs) and the associated resources and tools. The partners contribute to the processes of selecting, preparing and supporting professionals from across the country who act as aRPy Ambassadors.

As the professional association for early childhood special education, DEC provides guidance on early intervention and early childhood special education practices related to better outcomes for young children with disabilities and/or delays, their families and the personnel who serve them.

The DEC Recommended Practices consists of 66 practices in 8 topical areas. The topic areas include: Assessment, Environment, Family, Instruction, Interaction, Leadership, Teaming and Collaboration and Transition.

The DEC Recommended Practices Website has a collection of Recommended Practices tools: DEC RPs with embedded examples, glossaries, Monograph chapters on the history and revision of the practices, and a Spanish translation of the RPs.

The latest version of the DEC RPs (2014) was compiled and validated through volunteer efforts of DEC members and represents the highest standards of practice. A detailed history of the DEC RPs and a description of the latest revision process is available in Monograph DEC Recommended Practices: Enhancing Services for Young Children with Disabilities and their Families. The first two chapters are available to download.

When the DEC RPs 2014 version was published, ECTA Center was charged with developing resources to promote the use of the Recommended Practices. These practice improvement tools guide practitioners and families in supporting young children who have or are at risk for developmental delays or disabilities across a variety of settings. They include performance checklists, practice guides, illustrations of the practices and guidance materials.

In 2016, the ECTA Center established the first cohort of Ambassadors to help share information about and promote the use of the DEC Recommended Practices (RPs) using the suite of products developed by the ECTA Center. Individuals are nominated and complete an application indicating how the ambassador role complements their current work responsibilities and specific objectives they would like to achieve.

An aRPy Ambassador is an early childhood professional from a variety of fields who acts as a disseminator of information about the DEC RPs. The role of an Ambassador is to bring awareness to the existence of the practices, understand who the practices are intended for and share information about the materials and products that support the implementation of the DEC RPs. The aRPy Ambassador may serve in their local or state community as a technical assistance or professional development provider for early childhood professionals or family members. An Ambassador may be university or college faculty, may be employed by a Parent Training and Information Center (PTI), Community Parent Resource Center (CPRC), Parent Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), or by the state agency(ies) responsible for services and supports for young children with and without special needs.

The aRPy Ambassador role does NOT include training or coaching practitioners on how to implement the specific RPs, nor is the role intended to be a trainer of trainers. It is not an expectation that Professional Development or Technical Assistance providers who become aRPy Ambassadors assume these trainer roles although those whose existing responsibilities involve such training and/or coaching may find that the role of an aRPy Ambassador aligns very well with these responsibilities. aRPy Ambassadors help build state capacity to use the ECTA Center’s RP products to support implementation of practices by local practitioners and families.

Ambassadors reach out to and cultivate relationships with partners committed to improving systems, services, and outcomes for young children with or at risk for disabilities and their families. They collaborate with local, regional and state entities to promote the awareness and use of the DEC Recommended Practices. Their audiences may include providers of early intervention, early care and education, early childhood special education, Parent Centers, and parents and family members, and students in higher education.

aRPy Ambassadors are DEC Members who:

  • Serve for a minimum of 2 years as an aRPy Ambassador (with renewal options).
  • Participate in virtual and face to face orientation meetings.
  • Commit approximately 4 to 6 hours monthly to the Ambassador role, including participating in a one-hour web-based meeting, reporting activities (about 10 minutes) and engaging in an average of 4 hours of dissemination activities.
  • Participate in at least one national meeting or conference with the purpose of collaborating with other Ambassadors and disseminating information about the DEC RPs.
  • Develop and implement an annual work plan for their role as an Ambassador.

aRPy Ambassadors Receive:

  • Special recognition from DEC, ECTA and the PTACs and CPIR as an aRPy Ambassador (e.g. acknowledgement at national/state meetings, press releases, representation on the ECTA Ambassador page).
  • Special DEC conference registration rate.
  • Presentations and flyers with space for personal information.
  • Ready to print marketing and display materials.
  • Toolkit with downloadable materials, presentations, and display-quality products.
  • Travel support, technical assistance and peer support.
  • Private forum to network, share ideas, successes, and learn from colleagues nationwide.

Illustration: aRPY faces scattered on a map of the United States

aRPy Ambassadors

ECTA Center Staff