BrainSTEPS (Strategies Teaching Educators, Parents, and Students)
By: Brenda Eagan Brown, M.S.Ed., CBIS
Each year, approximately 4,000 of Pennsylvania’s children survive severe traumatic brain injuries significant enough to require hospitalization. Many are left with life-altering difficulties in physical, cognitive, or behavioral functioning. The BrainSTEPS Brain Injury School Re-Entry Program began in September 2007. It is funded through a Federal Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. BrainSTEPS is implemented by the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania (BIAPA), and fully partnered with the PA Department of Education. BrainSTEPS is working to make sure that those who provide educational support to children with brain injury have an understanding of brain injury, resulting challenges, and supports and interventions that will help these students achieve optimal educational success through graduation.
Children with brain injuries of all severities display a unique and wide range of challenges educators aren’t prepared for. Challenges include cognitive, social, physical, and emotional impairments. BrainSTEPS Consulting Teams are comprised of professionals from varying disciplines (medical/educational/rehabilitation/families) who have received extensive training on educating children with brain injuries. The BrainSTEPS teams are based out of the statewide Intermediate Units (IU) run by the PA Department of Education. All acquired brain injuries are served (traumatic AND non traumatic brain injuries) and all severities (concussions through severe brain injuries). BrainSTEPS focuses on re-entry after injury and also focuses on students who were previously identified as brain injured in the schools, but who may begin to encounter new educational issues as their brains develop and mature over the years. Teams follow students in grades K-12 and are followed annually through graduation.
- Education/awareness of brain injury for school professionals
- Consultation from local medical/rehabilitation professionals
- Hospital to school re-entry planning
- Academic interventions & strategy implementation
- Educational programming, IEP and 504 Service Agreement developments
- Brain Injury trainings for schools and families
Over 90 percent of Pennsylvania is now covered with BrainSTEPS teams. The BrainSTEPS Program is completely free to all 500+ school districts. All teams function uniquely, but follow guidelines for Best Practices created jointly with the Dept. of Education. The Program Coordinator who is employed by BIAPA focuses on building individual team infrastructure, mentoring team members and program sustainability. Teams foster a smooth flow of referrals, information, paperwork, and planning between acute care, rehabilitation, schools and family members. To date, several hundred Pennsylvania students have been served by the BrainSTEPS Program.
The BrainSTEPS Program has trained a total of 24 consulting teams across Pennsylvania consisting of 250 Members. To date, educational presentations, reaching over 8,000 individuals in Pennsylvania have been given by team members. Program outcomes are being calculated through a database (http://www.brainsteps.net) that all team members utilize following student consultations.
In December 2008, the Brain Injury Association of America honored the BrainSTEPS Program with a National Award for Excellence in Programs and Services and BrainSTEPS is considered a national model for replication and implementation. For more information about Pennsylvania’s BrainSTEPS Program, contact Brenda Eagan Brown, Program Coordinator at [email protected] or http://www.brainsteps.net.
This Month’s Featured Organization: BrainSTEPS
With thanks to Brenda Eagan Brown M.S.Ed, CBIS, Brain Injury School Re-Entry Program Coordinator, Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania
Please support our contributing organizations and visit http://www.brainsteps.net
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