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Training psychologists to connect healthcare and schools

Edward S. Shapiro, professor of school psychology, is the cofounder of Lehigh’s pediatric school psychology program.

Parents often turn to pediatricians or family physicians when their children have emotional or behavioral problems. Then it’s up to parents to share information with schools, which can be challenging and overwhelming.

The School Psychology Program in Lehigh’s College of Education recently received a highly-competitive $1.2 million training grant from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to help connect primary care and education for children who have emotional or behavioral problems or are at risk of developing them.

The grant will enable Lehigh to collaborate with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley Health Network and the Allentown and Upper Darby school districts. The goal is for the College of Education to improve its training of pediatric school psychologists—an emerging sub-specialization in school psychology that combines the knowledge base of schools and healthcare.

“We recognized the need to narrow the gap between schools and healthcare,” says Edward S. Shapiro, cofounder of the pediatric school psychology program, “and we felt that training doctoral students to become school psychologists was a natural progression.” Shapiro is also professor of school psychology and director of the Center for Promoting Research to Practice.

This is the fourth round of DOE funding Lehigh has received for the pediatric school psychology program since 1997—shortly after Shapiro, George DuPaul, professor of school psychology, and Thomas Power of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia founded the sub-specialization.

“In the mid-1990s, we envisioned a professional who could understand the psychological, educational, social and healthcare needs of a child, but who also maintained the perspective of operations from schools,” DuPaul says.

Students in the pediatric school psychology program complete courses as well as healthcare and educational practicums. So far the program has graduated 20 students.

As Lehigh seeks to improve its pediatric school psychology program, other schools are embracing the field. East Carolina University and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln have recently started specializations, while Syracuse and Northeastern universities are exploring the prospect.

 

Story by Sally Gilotti

Posted on Tuesday, November 16, 2010

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