BOX 14–1 Elements of a Support Infrastructure

Personnel Preparation

There is need for continuous flow of qualified personnel. To that end, there needs to be a series of training programs and experiences directed at preservice and inservice needs.

Technical Assistance

Many professionals and programs run into situations related to autism that cause them to seek additional professional help. Programs of technical assistance are designed to provide consultation and short-term training to meet the needs of the requester.

Applied Research and Program Evaluation

There is a strong need to be reflective about our own performance as part of a strategy of continuous improvement. Public calls for accountability stress the importance of developing the proper tools and measuring instruments and personnel to conduct effective program evaluation.

Communication

It is important to establish a communications network sothat there is continuous contact with other professionals who are working on the same or similar problems. It is a way of keeping up with the latest knowledge and practices.

Demonstration

One of the strategies that has been often used to improve program quality is to identify outstanding programs, establish them as demonstration centers, and then urge other professionals to observe and e mulate what is happening in those centers or programs that could be transferred to their own program.

Data Systems

There are many important policy questions that cannot be answered without an organized data system. Questions such as, “How many children with autism are there?” or “How many teachers are needed?” can only be addressed if one has a data system to compile the demographics of the individuals or programs.

Comprehensive Planning

One of the key aspects of an infrastructure is the ability to do comprehensive statewide planning and to be able to allocate resources over time and in a systematic manner to more easily reach the goals of the program.

SOURCE: Gallagher and Clifford (2000).



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