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The PIPs Project

The Preparing Interdisciplinary Providers (PIPs) project trains highly qualified professionals to work with young children with complex needs and their families. PIPs scholars receive interdisciplinary training through a variety of opportunities and experiences both on and off campus. Opportunities include joint coursework, an interdisciplinary practicum, a capstone project, and an intensive summer institute with physical therapy and occupational therapy students.

Graduates will be eligible for certification in speech language pathology or early childhood special education and will be prepared for positions serving children with disabilities eligible for Part C or Part B preschool services through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The inaugural group of PIPs scholars will graduate in May 2020 and the second cohort will begin their program in June 2020.

If you have questions about this project, feel free to contact us:

Meet the Team

Rebecca Lieberman-Betz, PhD

Associate professor, Department of Communication Sciences and Special Education (Special Education)

Research interests:

  • Play and communication development in young children with developmental delays
  • Parent-implemented intervention
  • Part C service delivery

Jennifer Brown, PhD, CCC-SLP

Assistant professor, Department of Communication Sciences and Special Education (Communication Sciences and Disorders)

Research interests:

  • Collaborative intervention practices in natural environments
  • Communication development and intervention
  • Professional development

Cynthia Vail, PhD

Professor, Department of Communication Sciences and Special Education (Special Education)

Research interests:

  • Teacher preparation and peer coaching
  • Part C policy
  • Arranging play environments to promote pro-social behavior
  • Exercise as an antecedent intervention

Sarah Wiegand, MEd

Doctoral student, Department of Communication Sciences and Special Education

Research interests:

  • Parent and caregiver coaching in early intervention
  • Part C practices
  • Knowledge and perceptions of autism spectrum disorder

Meet the Advisory Council

Pips Advisory Council
Angie Dudley

Parent representative

Laura Nichols, EdS, CCC

Assistant clinical professor

Carol Darrah, MS

Early childhood coordinator, Georgia Sensory Assistance Project

Martha Veto, MEd

Coordinator, Georgia Sensory Assistance Project

Laura Carpenter, PhD, OTR/L

Assistant professor, Brenau University School of Occupational Therapy

Lynn McFarland, MSEd

INSITE/VIISA coordinator, Georgia PINES

Alyssa LaForme Fiss, PT, PhD, PCS

Associate professor and director of physical therapy research, Department of Physical Therapy College of Health Professions, Mercer University

Christine Spratling, EdS

Technical assistance specialist, Georgia Sensory Assistance Project

Elizabeth "Elisa" T. Kennedy, PT, PhD, PCS

Associate professor emeritus of physical therapy and adjunct faculty of developmental-behavioral pediatrics, University of South Alabama’s Strada Patient Care Center

Video: Why PIPs?

Learn about the Preparing Interdisciplinary Providers grant through the lens of current scholars.

Meet the Scholars

Anna Beekman

  • Undergraduate major: Communication sciences and disorders
  • Dream job: I am excited to work with infants and toddlers as an SLP in any setting.
  • Favorite thing about PIPs: I love learning the same way I will be working—with other professionals in related fields.

Isabel Buonopane

  • Undergraduate major/minor: Religious studies/gender and sexuality studies
  • Dream job: To work as an SLP in a school setting or pediatric hospital.
  • Favorite thing about PIPs: Learning and collaborating with students and professionals from various fields.

Christa Jones

  • Undergraduate major: Psychology
  • Dream job: Working in a children’s hospital and eventually owning a private practice.
  • Favorite thing about PIPs: Having the opportunity to interact with peers and professionals with such diverse backgrounds!

Natalie Mathis

  • Undergraduate major: Communication sciences and disorders
  • Dream job: SLP in an early intervention setting while contracting in a NICU.
  • Favorite thing about PIPs: Connecting and collaborating with my classmates as well as learning from them!

Logan Norris

  • Undergraduate major: Communication sciences and disorders
  • Program: Speech language pathology
  • Dream job: To work as an SLP in a public-school setting with elementary-aged students.
  • Favorite thing about PIPs: Collaborating with and learning alongside my peers across disciplines!

Madilyn Patterson

  • Undergraduate major/minor: Communication sciences and disorders/music
  • Dream job: I would love to work as an SLP in a school or clinical setting with young children.
  • Favorite thing about PIPs: The opportunities for collaboration! Not only are we collaborating with our peers in the SLP and special education programs, but we are also collaborating with a team of medical professionals.

Rachel Roberts

  • Undergraduate major: Special education
  • Dream job: Preschool/elementary special education teacher
  • Favorite thing about PIPs: I really enjoy the project’s heavy focus on early intervention and collaborating with other people in learning skills that I can use in my future classroom.

Brittany Rochester

  • Undergraduate/graduate majors: Linguistics and international affairs/communication sciences and disorders
  • Program: Speech language pathology
  • Dream job: To open a multidisciplinary pediatric clinic and partner with universities to provide hands-on learning experiences for future professionals.
  • Favorite thing about PIPs: I am most excited about collaborating with my peers and building interdisciplinary skills.

Elizabeth "Tyler" Warner

  • Undergraduate/graduate majors: Early childhood education/communication sciences and disorders
  • Dream job: Teaching at the college level, professional development, and working with the community for my families.
  • Favorite thing about PIPs: The focus on teaming with families to help their children thrive.

Meet the 2018-2020 Scholars

Casey Baldwin

  • Undergraduate major: Communication disorders, minor in music
  • Program: Speech language pathology
  • Dream job: Certified auditory-verbal therapist
  • Favorite thing about PIPs: The additional learning opportunities!

Megan Boyd

  • Undergraduate major: Communication sciences and disorders
  • Program: Speech language pathology
  • Dream job: I’d love to work as an SLP in a school setting with young kids!
  • Favorite thing about PIPs: I like the fact that PIPs is so collaborative, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my future colleagues.

Ciera Hutchins

  • Undergraduate major: Communication sciences and disorders
  • Program: Speech language pathology
  • Dream job: To work as an SLP in a public-school setting with preschool and elementary age students.
  • Favorite thing about PIPs: The opportunity to collaboratively work with my peers in both in the SLP program and the B-K program.

Sarah Manning

  • Undergraduate major: Communication sciences and disorders
  • Program: Speech language pathology
  • Dream job: To own a multidisciplinary pediatric clinic.
  • Favorite thing about PIPs: The emphasis we put on families. They are the experts on their children, and we are learning how to treat them.

Cedar Hawks

  • Undergraduate major: Psychology
  • Program: Birth-kindergarten (ECSE)
  • Dream job: To eventually start my own special education school in Honduras.
  • Favorite thing about PIPs: The community and having familiar faces in my classes.

Sara Russell

  • Undergraduate major: Communication sciences and disorders
  • Program: Speech language pathology
  • Dream job: To own a private practice working with young children.
  • Favorite thing about PIPs: The amazing hands-on experiences.

Cara Goldberg

  • Undergraduate major: Early childhood education
  • Program: Birth-kindergarten (ECSE)
  • Dream job: Early interventionist
  • Favorite thing about PIPs: Seeing familiar faces in Aderhold and in class.

Sarah Knapp

  • Undergraduate major: Communication sciences and disorders
  • Program: Speech language pathology
  • Dream job: SLP in a school setting contracting in a pediatric hospital.
  • Favorite thing about PIPs: I have truly loved collaborating, working, and learning with students and professionals from other disciplines.

Amanda Freeman

  • Undergraduate major: Adapted curriculum SPED
  • Graduate major: Adapted curriculum SPED
  • Program: Birth-kindergarten (ECSE)
  • Dream job: Someday, I think it would be awesome to be a director/supervisor of a handful of early interventionists.
  • Favorite thing about PIPs: Having another cohort and learning about development.

Saori Sakuragi

  • Undergraduate major: Communication science and disorders
  • Program: Speech language pathology
  • Dream job: To work as an SLP in early intervention or in a nursing home.
  • Favorite thing about PIPs: Collaborating and learning from other students in related fields.

Eleanor Xiaoxiao Mehta

  • Undergraduate major: Elementary education
  • Program: Birth-kindergarten (ECSE)
  • Dream job: To open a special education training center and clinic in China one day!
  • Favorite thing about PIPs: The Play Assessment Collaborative Project.

Taylor Henderson

  • Undergraduate major: Early childhood education
  • Program: Birth-kindergarten (ECSE)
  • Dream job: Preschool special education teacher
  • Favorite thing about PIPs: I really like learning things I know I will use in the future and can apply to my work with children with special needs.

PIPs News

November 2021: On November 8, 2021, the PIPs Project hosted a virtual presentation with Anna Sletten, M.A., CCC-SLP, titled “Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Implementation: Teaming to Support Students with Complex Communication Needs.” Sletten, a complex communication needs specialist for Minneapolis Public Schools, discussed AAC implementation and the importance of teaming and collaboration. Sletten emphasized that every student communicates and has the right to participate in high-quality instruction during their school day.

June 2021: The second PIPs Summer Institute was held virtually from June 11-13, 2021. UGA PIPs scholars and other birth-kindergarten and special education graduate students collaborated with physical therapy graduate students from Texas Woman’s University and occupational therapy graduate students from Brenau University. Interdisciplinary faculty and family representatives presented topics of culturally responsive assessment and intervention practices, transitioning from the NICU, the family perspective, feeding, mobility and positioning, and alternative and augmentative communication. Seven interdisciplinary teams applied this content to case studies featuring a young child with complex needs and her family and presented cases for discussion on the final day of the institute. Faculty and family representatives included: Deborah Chen, PhD, California State University, Northridge; Laura Carpenter, PhD, Brenau University; Alyssa Fiss, PhD, Texas Woman’s University; Elise Kennedy, PhD, University of South Alabama; Rebecca Lieberman-Betz, PhD; Cynthia Vail, PhD; Jennifer Brown, PhD; Laura Nichols, EdS; Sarah Wiegand, MEd; Emily Adams, MDE; Catherine Citta, LMSW, University of Georgia; and Angie Dudley and Harper Calhoun, family representatives.

November 2020: On November 18, 2020, the PIPs Project hosted a virtual, interdisciplinary panel titled, “Providing Telehealth Services to Children with Complex Needs and Their Families.” The scholars heard from a behavior analyst, a physical therapist, and a speech language pathologist who shared their experiences switching to telehealth services during the pandemic to continue serving infants, toddlers, young children, and their families. The panelists spoke about the benefits and challenges of telehealth and provided insight on how to collaborate, build rapport, and coach families remotely.

August 2020: The second cohort of PIPs scholars started in June. The scholars, members of the advisory team, and PIPs faculty met virtually for introductions and fellowship. The scholars completed an online Infants and Toddlers Methods course this summer, which emphasized collaborative and interdisciplinary services for infants and toddlers with high-intensity needs and their families.

April 2020: Our PIPs scholars virtually presented their capstone projects, demonstrating their collaborative skills, knowledge, and flexibility. The scholars worked hard to create products, such as a welcome packet for parents whose children are transitioning from preschool to kindergarten, a curriculum for a play group of children ages birth-4 with disabilities, a child-centered communication portfolio for a child transitioning from early intervention to preschool, and literacy activities and handouts for parents and professionals of preschoolers with disabilities. The projects incorporated evidence-based practices for working with young children with disabilities and emphasized family-centeredness and team collaboration. We are so proud of the work they have done over the past two years!

October 2019: Key personnel from the PIPs program participated in an Office of Special Education Programs presentation at the Council for Exceptional Children-Division for Early Childhood’s International Conference on Young Children with Special Needs and Their Families. The presentation highlighted the planning year, scholar coursework, practicum experiences, the Summer Institute, and lessons learned.

September 2019: Jennifer Grisham-Brown, professor and program chair in the interdisciplinary early childhood education program and director of the Early Childhood Laboratory School at the University of Kentucky, delivered a presentation entitled, “Practices to Promote Positive Transitions for Young Children.” Her talk focused on person-centered planning and how to engage families and children in assessment and intervention. Grisham-Brown’s presentation was sponsored by grants from the PIPs Project and the Georgia Sensory Assistance Project (GSAP).

June 2019: The PIPs project’s inaugural Summer Institute was held in Dawsonville, Georgia, May 31–June 2. Over the course of two days, UGA PIPs scholars worked with Mercer University physical therapy students and Brenau University occupational therapy students, building interdisciplinary collaboration skills to support young children with complex needs and their families using evidence-based practices. Six interdisciplinary student teams engaged in case-based learning through the application of new content presented by interdisciplinary faculty and family representatives, who facilitated students' learning and engagement throughout the weekend. Faculty and family representatives included: Philippa Campbell, PhD, Thomas Jefferson University; M. Irma Alvarado, PhD, and Laura Carpenter, PhD, Brenau University; Alyssa Fiss, PhD, Mercer University; Elizabeth ‘Elisa’ Kennedy, PhD, University of South Alabama; Rebecca Lieberman-Betz, PhD, Cynthia Vail, PhD, Jennifer Brown, PhD, Laura Nichols, EdS, Sarah Wiegand, MEd, and Emily Adams, MDE, UGA; Angie Dudley; and Harper Calhoun.

March 2019: All 12 PIPs scholars were enrolled in a one-credit interdisciplinary practicum, where they worked together in teams of two to three to plan and implement interventions for young children with complex needs and their families with guidance from a professional mentor in home, classroom, and community settings. Each team will present their projects for discussion with PIPs scholars and faculty in April.

September 2018: Linda Hagood, a speech language pathologist with experience working with students who have visual impairment and additional disabilities, including autism, deaf-blindness, and intellectual disability visited the University of Georgia on Thursday, Sept. 20, for a breakfast with PIPs scholars. Her evening seminar entitled, “It Takes a Village: Working Together to Support Students with Complex Needs,” was a collaboration between the PIPs grant and the Georgia Sensory Assistance Project (GSAP; Vail, project director).

June 2018: The inaugural group of PIPs scholars has started their program with an Infants and Toddlers Methods course, a course emphasizing collaborative and interdisciplinary services for infants toddlers with high-intensity needs and their families.

May 2018: The PIPs Advisory Council had their first meeting to discuss program goals, next year’s Summer Institute, and course syllabi.

Contact Info

© University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602
706‑542‑3000