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Barbara J. Smith

Research Professor, CEBPEL

My story:

I became interested in early childhood special education by working with older youth and determining that early intervention may have prevented or reduced school failure and education-related disabilities.

I received my master's degree in early childhood special education and doctorate in special education and public policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Since then, I have held early childhood and early childhood special education positions including early childhood teacher, Executive Director of the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) of the Council for Exceptional Children; Policy Specialist for the Council for Exceptional Children; and Program Specialist for the Office of Special Education Programs in the US Department of Education. I have also served as a consultant on state and national early childhood policy and an expert witness in right to treatment litigation. I have prepared and delivered legislative testimony to the Congress as well as state legislatures, and have worked with many parent and professional groups in their state policy efforts.

In an effort to help shape quality inclusive early childhood environments for all children, including those with special needs, I have worked closely for many years with DEC and NAEYC (the National Association for the Education of Young Children) and other early childhood leadership organizations to develop guidelines for the field.

Currently, I'm a Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator for several federally-funded, multi-year grants including two national technical assistance centers related to children's social emotional development and challenging behavior, as well as the doctoral program at CU Denver in early intervention and early childhood special education policy and collaborative leadership.

My research interests:

  • Early childhood special education/early intervention policies
  • Systems and program development in education
  • Leadership and collaboration
  • Scaling up of everyday use of research and evidence-based practices in education

My hobbies:

I enjoy hiking and other outdoor activities.

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