Exciting Five-Year Plan
October 2013 marked the beginning of a new five-year grant cycle for
Connections Beyond Sight and Sound that extends through September 2018.
Below are answers to basic questions about the current grant cycle.
Who funded the grant?
The CBSS grant is a federal grant funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and supported by the U.S. Department of Education and Part B funds.
Who operates the project funded by the grant?
CBSS is a partnership between the Maryland State Department of Education and the University of Maryland, College Park. The project is staffed by a team of four skilled professionals — the Project Director, the Project Coordinator, and two Education Specialists.
What is the purpose of the grant?
CBSS — also called “Connections” — is the Maryland & DC Deaf-blind Project which supports children with dual sensory impairment in their home, school, and community environments by providing consultation, training and special programs, and technical assistance to children, their families, and care providers.
How did this new grant come about?
Before applying for grant funds CBSS staff:
- Explored lessons learned from the previous grant cycle;
- Conducted needs assessments and listened to feedback from our stakeholders; and,
- Reviewed research on state-of-the-science and state-of-the-art policies and practices related to working with students who have deaf-blindness and their families and providers.
What is similar between the previous and current grant cycles?
Some of what CBSS is doing during the current grant cycle is a continuation of activities that were a part of the previous grant cycle (e.g., providing training and support to families and providers). CBSS will also be providing support on an as needed basis for successful activities from the previous grant, but that are no longer CBSS priorities due to their successful implementation (e.g., the CVI Mentorship Program and the Usher’s Screening Project). And, some of what CBSS is doing during the current grant cycle expands on lessons learned from previous activities (e.g., building partnerships, creating demonstration classroom projects, and training interveners).
What is new about the current grant cycle?
The biggest change in the current grant cycle is that CBSS is now the collaborative Maryland and District of Columbia Deaf-blind Project. In previous grant cycles, CBSS served as the Maryland Deaf-blind Project and provided support for the DC Deaf-blind Project through supplemental grant funds.
What are priorities for the current grant cycle?
Our Conceptual Framework graphic illustrates the dynamic nature of the CBSS priorities for the current grant cycle. (Click on the graphic to enlarge the image).
CBSS is at the center of the graphic, with project staff constantly reflecting and responding on program evaluation and stakeholder feedback
There are five key priorities that are all interrelated, and each of which has the ultimate goal of improving child outcomes:
- Improving Policies
- Improving Practices
- Providing Technical Assistance
- Developing and Enhancing Partnerships
- Maintaining Accurate Child Count Data
Explain the Policies & Practices priorities.
Two of our key priorities – improving policy and improving practice – have to do with our stakeholders.
- CBSS aims to increase the ability of SEAs, LEAs, LAs, and EIS providers to use evidence-based practices to improve outcomes, which includes ensuring children will graduate from high school ready for college and a career.
- CBSS aims to increase the ability of SEAs, LEAs, LAs, and EIS providers to develop policies and practices that improve outcomes for children who are deaf-blind.
These two priorities are very much related – improved practices lead to improved policies, and improved policies lead to improve practices! CBSS staff will be working hard to provide training, resources and information about evidence-based practice – such as hand-under-hand techniques, interveners, and early identification – which are known to improve child outcomes.
Explain the Technical Assistance priority.
The aim of this priority is to deliver technical assistance and training necessary to improve outcomes for children who are deaf-blind. This TA and training will be made available to personnel in the schools, classrooms, or early intervention systems where these children are served. TA is not new. In fact, TA is a signature activity of CBSS. What is new in this grant cycle is that we have delineated three different types of TA:
- Targeted & Specialized TA – one-time or episodic events offered by CBSS and developed based on needs common to multiple recipients and not extensively individualized at the individual child level (e.g., hosting a regional or national conference, a series of conference calls on a particular topic; Summer Institute; Special Topics Workshops).
- Intensive & Specific TA – direct interaction that is child specific and includes purposeful, planned series of activities designed to reach an outcome chosen by the TA recipient (this level of TA is available by request to families, providers, schools or districts and may be on-site or involve distance technology, or it may involve specific training opportunities such as participation in the Intervener Training Project or the Delrey Demonstration Project).
- Universal & General TA – providing information and assistance but with minimal interaction. In other words, information will be made available by the CBSS staff to be accessed independently by others (e.g., Informational Brochures, One-time Conference Presentations, e-Connection Updates (formerly known as the Newsletter), Social Media & Networking Activities, Field-initiated Demonstration Activities & Mini-grant Program, Factsheets & Research Summaries (that complement brochures and e-Connections), and Website & Web-based Training Opportunities.
Explain the Partnerships priority.
The aim of the partnerships priority is to collaborate with federally-funded parent centers to provide training and supports to families of children who are deaf-blind so that they can successfully advocate on behalf of their children and help ensure their children are better positioned for independent living.
CBSS is has many partners, some that began in previous grant cycles and some that are being developed during the current grant cycle. Examples include: MSB, MSD, ARC of Baltimore, Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, DORS, NICU follow-up clinics, and Transitions Supports. Two of our newer partnerships that are very exciting are Parents’ Place of Maryland and the Delrey School Demonstration Project (which takes the Demonstration Classroom project from the previous grant cycle to a school-wide level).
Explain the Child Count Data priority.
The aim of the Child Count Data priority is to provide data to the National Center for the annual National Child Count of children who are deaf-blind. Maintaining and reporting on accurate child count data matters. The data provides valuable information that is used to identify state technical assistance needs and activities, an that can help define areas in need of research and program development.
How do I learn more about CBSS?
To learn more about CBSS, please explore our website at www.CBSS.UMD.edu. Our website offers a wealth of information:
- About the CBSS Project (click here…)
- About our Staff Members (click here…)
- About current News & Events (click here…)
- About useful Resources & Links (click here…)
- About CBSS Training Materials (click here…)
- About our Foundation Funds & Activities (click here…)
- Celebrating Providers (click here…)
- Celebrating Families (click here…)
- Our Referral Form (click here…)
- Our Gallery of Photos & Videos (click here…)
- Our Contact Us page (click here…)
Donna, Sandy, Jeni, and Jen —
your 2017-2018 CBSS Team
— learn more about the staff here…