Haring Center

November 28, 2018

A More Inclusive Grand Cayman

The Haring Center Continues Laying the Groundwork for Inclusive Programming in Grand Cayman

The Haring Center regularly works with partners, both internationally and domestically, to spread inclusive education. In the fall of 2016, the Center entered into a partnership with the Grand Cayman-based non-profit, Special Needs Foundation Cayman (SNFC). SNFC engaged with the Haring Center to support their mission of increasing access to high quality special education services in Grand Cayman.

To kick off this work, Dr. Jennifer Fung, Haring Center Assistant Director of Research, traveled to Grand Cayman to ascertain the current state of special education services on the island by touring local schools, speaking with educational leaders, and meeting with families of children with special needs. In order for SNFC to have the broadest impact on the quality of services, including inclusive educational experiences, she recommended that the Foundation establish a training team who will then support schools and organizations in Grand Cayman.

The second step of the ongoing partnership occurred this October, when SNFC sent three staff members to the Haring Center for a two-week, hands-on seminar to build the skills and strategies necessary to support the use of best practices in inclusive education back home in the Caribbean.

“Inclusion doesn’t look the same everywhere,” said Dr. Fung. “In addition to observation and training on high leverage classroom practices, we spent time discussing what inclusion would look like in the Cayman Islands, as well as what the SNFC inclusion team will need to do to support schools to build inclusive programs that are successful and sustainable in the unique context of their community.”

“We valued the opportunity to observe good practice and share in the wonderful evidence based intervention resources which we can now share with the Cayman Islands,” said Susie Bodden, SNCF CEO. “The opportunity to work on our framework and terms of reference alongside professionals who had already walked that path aided our progress considerably.”

As part of the next step, the Haring Center will provide ongoing consultation, coaching, and training to SNFC as they continue to build their inclusion team and begin work with their community to adopt inclusive practices. A critical component of this ongoing work will be support to the SNFC team as they work with a local early learning center to build their capacity to successfully include kids of all abilities, and to eventually become a demonstration site for inclusive education. This demonstration site will be a place where education professionals can see inclusion in action in their own community, where inclusive education isn’t currently widely practiced.

“Beliefs and attitudes are the number one barrier to inclusion,” said Dr. Fung. “Part of this can be attributed to the fact that many people have not witnessed inclusion working successfully, like it does in the classrooms at the Haring Center. It will be imporant for the SNFC to have a great example of inclusion, where people can observe these practices in action as part of their training, similar to how we use the EEU classrooms in our professional development here at the Haring Center.”

Haring Center trainers teach education professionals the best practices in inclusive education by utilizing training strategies based on principles of adult learning and the most current research in teacher training. Many of the training strategies are based on research conducted by Haring Center researchers, and are designed to ensure that concepts are not just understood, but are used in classrooms.

“We know that kids can’t benefit from instructional strategies that teachers don’t use,” said Dr. Fung. “So our focus is on creating professional development plans that result in the sustained use of evidence-based practices across a school.”

Dr. Fung will return to Grand Cayman in January of 2019 to continue working with the SNFC. For more information on this project, contact Dr. Jennifer Fung at jschleif@uw.edu, and for more information on Haring Center professional development and training services contact pdutrain@uw.edu.