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Siskin Center for Child and Family Research to Focus on Early Childhood Development and Special Education
Date:12/3/2008

g>, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Middle Tennessee State University.

Experts unaffiliated with the research center say the facility has the potential to become a national leader in early childhood development and special education. "This new center will develop a national reputation for excellence through its groundbreaking research to improve the lives of children and families," said Craig H. Kennedy, Ph.D., chair of the special education department at Vanderbilt University and former colleague of Dr. McWilliam.

Dr. McWilliam and Dr. Casey brought with them to the Institute several research projects, including a study focused on improving early intervention services in Tennessee funded by a $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. New studies already are under way in the area, including several within the Siskin Early Learning Centers and a collaborative project with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Child Care Center. Other studies are being conducted across the United States and world, including in Australia, Egypt and Portugal.

It is not typical for an organization of the Institute's size to have an independent research center with three accomplished researchers. "I've talked with a lot of other moms in different parts of the country who have children with autism, and they just don't have the same opportunities that are available here at the Institute," said Chattanooga mother Jackie Benkert, whose four-year-old daughter, Lillian, has autism. Lillian has drastically improved her language and social skills by participating in research conducted at the Institute. "But now other kids across the world will have the chance to experience what Lillian did, and I think that's amazing," Benkert added.

The research center is located within the Chattanooga-based Institute, which operates two early learning cen
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SOURCE Siskin Children's Institute
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