The Department of Occupational Therapy at Chicago State University (CSU) was awarded a four-year grant of $1,199,948.00 from the Department of Education (DOE), Office of Special Education Programs for Combined Priority for Personnel Preparation in Minority Institutions to implement the Facilitating Occupational Therapists’ Collaboration in Urban School-based practice (FOCUS). FOCUS seeks funds to address the shortage of occupational therapists registered and licensed (OTR/Ls) needed to provide services for children with disabilities within high need local educational agencies (LEAs) in urban settings. These efforts will increase the number of highly qualified OTR/Ls in hard to staff settings such as high poverty areas and low performing schools. Scholars trained under the proposed project will not only address the shortage of highly qualified occupational therapists, but will also increase the effectiveness of services provided to high need children with disabilities.
- Recruit and graduate 22 highly qualified OTR/Ls to provide services for high-need children with disabilities in urban settings.
- Provide an evidence-based curriculum that enhances the breadth of knowledge in special education and the provision of OT services for children with disabilities.
- Implement fieldwork experiences to develop skills in providing quality OT services to children with disabilities in all educational settings.
- provide an induction/mentoring program to assist with retention in the master’s of occupational therapy (MOT) program and in settings servicing children with disabilities, especially in high need LEAs, and
- provide authentic opportunities to develop skills for effective collaboration and interdisciplinary practice with team members.
***** By the end of the 4-year period, this proposed project will produce 22 masters of occupational therapy (MOT) graduates who are highly qualified to provide effective, collaborative, and educationally relevant OT services to children with disabilities, particularly those from underserved LEAs in urban settings.
In addition to completing the standard MOT Curriculum, the FOCUS recipients will participate in a value –added curriculum consisting of:
- Fieldwork placements in the community that provide services for children and youth who are eligible for related and special education services
- Program Planning and research projects that addresses the needs of children with special needs and disabilities and their families
- Participation in short courses/workshops that give advance practice for children and youth with special needs
- Participation in various service learning activities
- Participate in online enrichment seminars
- Participate in a mentoring program
To be eligible to apply for this training grant, FOCUS applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Good academic standing with a minimum overall GPA of 3.0
- Admission to the Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) program
- Successful completion of at least one semester prior to the anticipated semester of grant participation
- A minimum of “C” grade must be attained for all the courses required for the degree or grant
- Complete a FOCUS Grant Application, including submission of a Personal Statement and transcripts
- Complete a FOCUS interview with grant personnel
***Scholars will be eligible to receive two years of support, which involves 6 semesters.