|A toddler takes her first steps towards independence in Malawi.|
The underlying premise of Perkins' educational programs is that each child is unique with individual capacities and interests. In order to build on the capabilities of children with disabilities, there must be individualized instruction and support. Since education systems are created to meet the needs of the majority of a population, it is critical to make the same basic services available for students with varying needs.
There are three main areas that we emphasize for providing quality services to children: Early Childhood Education, Programs for School-Aged Children, and Transition to Adult Life.
Early Childhood Education
Early identification and education services guide learning by working with the child, as well as parents and caregivers, as soon as possible after disabilities or developmental delays are identified. By doing so, the child's developmental process is facilitated based on what the child can do, rather than on what those around might view as limitations.
Home-based instruction is the foundation of the early intervention initiatives and begins with a detailed assessment of the abilities and special needs of the child. We train professionals to work with parents in creating specific strategies for the developmental areas such as communication, motor skills, social development and much more. These strategies provide children with the stimulation necessary to assist in bonding with their families and environments. The development of these skills lays a strong foundation for a child's ability to learn and benefit from quality educational services.
Programs for School Aged Children
In partnership with over 260 schools and organizations worldwide, Perkins works to advance local efforts aimed at increasing educational services in schools. Our partners are based in an array of settings. Many are from organizations developing new programs for students with disabilities, while others are from schools designed for children who are blind, deaf or deafblind.
|Young adults who are deafblind gain vocational skills at a pasta factory in Peru.|
With each of these partners, Perkins initially prioritizes developing a foundation for education services by creating model programs. By training staff at model program sites, local agencies are able to expand services to children and families as determined by communities. In some instances, we collaborate with governmental departments, such as ministries of education, to launch pilot projects, formalize new programs or expand our initial work to more locations.
Transition to Adult Life
For any quality of life that extends to adulthood, there must be consistent partnered planning with families and communities. Perkins works with partners to develop programs that provide children and youth with this planning. Exemplary programs creatively connect a child's capacities and interests discovered in education with opportunities in their community. This includes employment, vocational training programs, supported living and/or residential and independent living programs. We have worked with many of our partners to create programs for shared housing, as well as employment opportunities for students who are blind, deafblind or blind with additional disabilities.