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There is a critical need to prepare highly qualified personnel to work with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with complex needs and their families. Integral to highly effective service delivery is the training of professionals with interdisciplinary expertise and competence in cross-discipline collaboration, as young children with high-intensity needs often require services from providers representing diverse disciplines (e.g., speech language pathology, special education, physical therapy, occupational therapy).

The purpose of this project is to provide interdisciplinary training to graduate-level early childhood special educators (ECSE) and speech-language pathologists (SLP) to support young children with high intensity needs across a variety of settings.

The PIPs Project: Serving Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers with High-Intensity Needs Through Evidence-Based Preparation of Interdisciplinary Providers is a joint effort between the Communication Sciences and Disorders (CMSD) and the Special Education Birth Through Kindergarten (B-K) programs housed within the Communication Sciences and Special Education Department in the College of Education. Graduates will be eligible for certification in speech language pathology or early childhood special education, and will be prepared for positions serving young children with disabilities eligible for Part C or Part B preschool services through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).


Potential students will need the following information and materials when applying for PIPs funding:

  1. Undergraduate GPA
  2. Graduate GPA if applicable
  3. GRE scores OR MAT scores
  4. A statement of purpose addressing their philosophy of working with young children with disabilities and their families, as well as their educational and professional goals (2-3 pages)

Apply for Funding


The PIPs Project will prepare highly qualified professionals to work with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with high intensity needs and their families. The personnel preparation program will provide interdisciplinary training through cross-discipline partnerships and collaborative learning experiences. Discipline and content expert consultants and affiliated faculty from within and outside of the UGA community will support instruction of scholars, and will collaborate to carry out learning institutes focused on interdisciplinary teaming and special topics concerning children with high-intensity needs.

Pedagogical methods promoting critical thinking and team-based problem solving will be implemented across shared courses and joint clinical experiences to support scholars in developing the skills necessary for collaborative teaming and data-driven decision making within early intervention and ECSE programs. Ongoing collaboration with programs supporting individuals with complex needs such as the Georgia Sensory Assistance Project, the state's technical assistance center for individuals with deaf-blindness housed in the College of Education at UGA (PI, Vail); Georgia PINES, an early intervention program for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with vision and/or hearing loss and their families; and Georgia's Part C system will provide scholars a multitude of interdisciplinary instructional and applied experiences with young children with high-intensity needs and their families.

For more information, download a PDF from the Office of Special Education Programs Discretionary Grants Database.


U.S. Department of Education

Principal Investigator

Rebecca G. Lieberman-Betz
Associate Professor
Communication Sciences and Special Education


  • Cynthia Vail Communication Sciences and Special Education
  • Jennifer Brown Communication Sciences and Special Education

Active Since

October 2017