Children's Communicative Competence Project Receives $1.2 Million Grant

The Penn State Children's Communicative Competence Project, led by Janice Light, the Hintz Family Chair in Children’s Communicative Competence, has received a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

"There is a critical need for speech-language pathologists who are prepared to implement research-based intervention to meet the needs of children with severe communication disabilities, such as those associated with autism, cerebral palsy, and traumatic brain injuries," said Kathryn Drager, an associate professor of communication sciences and disorders and a co-investigator on the project." This grant will ensure that graduates will be prepared to provide effective, research-based services to children with the most involved communication needs, including those from high-risk groups, such as those who live in poverty or are English-language learners."

Over a five-year period, the grant will fund 21 master's students to become fully credentialed speech-language pathologists who are qualified to provide services in high-need, early intervention or school settings. The students will complete a comprehensive curriculum that integrates academic coursework, research, and mentored clinical experiences.

In addition, the project will include the development of web-based modules on research-based interventions for children with severe communication disabilities, which will be freely available to families and professionals undertaking pre-service and in-service training across the nation and around the world.

"Not only will the project help train students at Penn State, but it also will increase significantly the number of fully credentialed speech language pathologists across the nation who are trained to provide evidence-based services to improve results for high-need children who have severe communication disabilities," said Light. “This project will ensure that children with the most complex communication needs have the supports they require to develop communicative competence and attain their full potential.”

Jessica Currall, a research associate, and Barbara Roberts, an instructor, also are involved with the grant. More information about the grant and associated research is on the web at: aac.psu.edu.

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Editors: Janice Light can be reached at JCL4@psu.edu. Kathryn Drager can be reached at kdd5@psu.edu. For additional information, please contact the College of Health and Human Development Office of College Relations at 814-865-3831 or healthhd@psu.edu.