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Released May 12, 2003

CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS TO BENEFIT FROM IDS GRANT

HATTIESBURG - Project PREPARE, an enterprise of the Institute for Disability Studies (IDS) located at The University of Southern Mississippi, is providing resources and training for child care directors working with children with special needs.

Project PREPARE is a one-year grant of $208,000 funded by the Office of Children and Youth of the Mississippi Department of Human Services. It supports and expands the efforts of other state agencies and Head Start to include children with special needs in early childhood programs. Project PREPARE also assists in strengthening the services provided by early childhood programs while giving families of children with disabilities a broader range of options for high quality child care.

"With the increasing demand for child care for all children, including children with special needs, center directors have been asking for more information about how to best meet the needs of children with special needs and their families," said Dr. Stella Fair, director of Project PREPARE.

Three statewide Inclusion Institutes will provide professional development for child care directors:

o July 18-19 - Madison (central Mississippi) - Ridgecrest Baptist Church
o August 8-9 - Oxford (north Mississippi) - E. F. Yerby Center
o September 12-13 - Hattiesburg (south Mississippi) - Forrest County Multi Purpose Center

PREPARE is also providing opportunities to participate in bimonthly interactive video meetings on children with disabilities, access to a listserv, a toll-free telephone number and a Web site providing information on best practices and support. Additionally, PREPARE will provide a variety of print resources materials, including a manual on inclusion and a one-day topical conference later this year based on the surveyed needs and interests of the state's child care directors.

For more information about Project PREPARE, please contact Shannon Haley at 1-888-671-0051 or (601) 296-0706.

Headquartered for 25 years at Southern Mississippi, IDS is Mississippi's Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service. The institute provides university training, community service activities, research and information that promote the independence, productivity and community inclusion of individuals with disabilities and their families. For more information about IDS, visit the Institute's Web site at www.ids.usm.edu or call 1-888-671-0051.

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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM

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