It’s a long way to Taiwan. It really is. 7,405 miles as the crow flies, or in this case United Airlines with passenger Peggy Kemp on her way to deliver the keynote to the 18th International Conference and Workshops of Early Intervention for Children with Developmental Delays, Taichung, Taiwan, November 5, 2017 during her 10-day visit.
Dr. Kemp’s keynote speech, From evidence to practice and from practice to policies: Connecting researchers, government, practitioners, and families, was the centerpiece of her contributions but the story begins in Kansas. She completed her PhD at the University of Kansas working with Drs. Ann & Rud Turnbull. Previous experience as an early intervention teacher and Part C state (KS) coordinator to her present positions as infant toddler technical assistance specialist/trainer with the Kansas Inservice Training System (KITS) and as executive director for the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) prepared her to take her place on the international stage.
This was a working trip and her days were filled morning to evening with tours, student meetings, luncheons, seminars, meetings with university professors, workshops, dinners, presentations, and meeting students, professionals, and families throughout Taiwan including Taoyuan, Taichung, and Taipei. Upon her arrival, Peggy was provided with an English translation of the conference materials and a map of the country. While the languages are certainly different, she found the shared interest and knowledge of the KITS model for professional development and the DEC recommended practices made her feel quite at home. In fact, before she returned home, there was discussion around translations for some of the work, both directly and eventually adapting some of the work for Taiwan specifically.
There were two goals for this trip. The conference invitation was given before her acceptance of the DEC position while she was still with KITS exclusively. Her first goal was to share the KITS model for professional development focusing on the All, Some, and Few pyramid and outlining what has been accomplished in Kansas with intensive technical assistance and evidence-based practices. Participants were very interested in that information and upon her return, she’s shared a number of additional KITS resources, including some papers on the model itself.
Her second goal was to present the work DEC is doing around systems level change and policy. Participants wanted information on, for example, how law was moved forward for children with disabilities, especially infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. She said, “we talked about the DEC position statements, our policy and advocacy work, and some landmark policy changes that the DEC was certainly a part of, even as far back as moving forward on Part C of IDEA.”
Peggy reports that the people she met are reading the same literature as early interventionists in the States. She says, “They are doing their own research, working more specifically with parents and the routines-based model. They probably have some of the best research in the world, working on how the model works with their families. The people from the Taiwan Association of Child Development and Early Intervention kept being introduced as the grandmothers and the grandfathers of early intervention and the development of their system so that was pretty awesome as well. I learned so much from them and some of their initiatives that they are implementing, especially around community-based early intervention and how they are implementing the routines-based intervention. This trip was reciprocal as well. I was there to offer consultation, and while we will consult and continue to develop our partnerships internationally, and continue to strengthen their use of DEC resources, this is a very strong group of professionals serving children and families.”
“Early intervention services have been administered from a hospital or clinic setting in Taiwan, however, there is movement towards community-based programs. They have a lot of work ahead of them, but it’s not unlike the change we’ve made in the States over the last few decades. We believe it to be true, that it will really increase the outcomes for children and their families. I think they are on the verge of that, the very beginning of that.”
“It was a life changing week. It really was and it reminded me of some of the things that we take for granted. We are so fortunate to have places that we can go to, national technical assistance centers, centers like KITS at the state level, that they just don’t have in place. They have such a passion and are really wanting to do it right. We had already been having conversations with the DEC board about strengthening our international work in DEC and this came along just about the same time as those conversations so we’ll probably be a part of diversifying DEC to fully understand what we can do internationally in partnership, and also to support countries who are just really still working on their systems, and their policies, and their laws.”