Date of Conferral

1-1-2010

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Gary Lacy

Abstract

The reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Act required that early intervention services for young children from birth to age 3 take place in their natural environment. However, limited research has been conducted on the impact of this requirement on the actual service providers who work within the home environments. Lewin's field theory on behavior, individual person, and the environment formed the theoretical framework for this descriptive case study, which examined the perceptions of developmental therapists on how their service is influenced by the inner-city home environment. Ten developmental therapists in a midwestern metropolitan city were interviewed about their beliefs and experiences on working within this environment and the influences of those beliefs and experiences on service delivery. Participants were members of a developmental therapy association of a Midwestern U.S. state who provided services in the inner city. Participant responses were transcribed, put into categories and assessed for themes. Five common elements within the inner-city environment were found to influence service delivery: (a) traffic of nonparticipants: (b) noise from TV, radio, and so on: (c) safety while traveling: (d) transient families: and (e) need for professional development. In addition, this study examined the providers' perspectives on their educational preparation to work in this setting. The results identified from this study provided the basis for a much-needed reform to the current professional development model and identified professional learning communities (PLC) as the guide to implement change. Incorporating PLCs can equip inner-city therapists with the ongoing support and training that is needed to provide services in a variety of environments, which increases the effectiveness of their service delivery while providing measurable outcomes and continuity of services for children. This study influences change at local and federal levels by reviewing current practices to effectively implement meaningful professional development.