Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Center for the Advancement of Education


Mary Ellen Sapp


Information and Referral Services, Referral Services, Community Information Services, Childhood Needs, Child Advocacy, Family Life, Family Problems, Early Experiences.


This practicum addressed the problem of limited access of community families to early childhood services and information. Negative outcomes for both families and young children were attributed to difficulties in locating services and in providing for the developmental needs of children between birth and age five. These children were at risk for (a) being in substandard care, (b) being abused, neglected or subjected to heightened family stress, and (c) school failure. The primary aim of the practicum was to assist families in negotiating services related to the cognitive, social, emotional and physical development of young children using a community-based referral procedure. A second aim was to develop and implement an early childhood services planning initiative on the community level. The writer designed a referral procedure that utilized a "warm line" format. A key feature as the procedure was the outreach method that called for the concurrent use of informal kinship/friendship networks, formal networks, and conventional public service announcements. The pluralistic nature of the community demanded diverse, holistic strategies to assist families in making appropriate choices for services. Outreach, coordination and human resource development were other features of the implementation. The results of the practicum were positive. Difficult to reach families responded to the outreach, received information and shared it within their respective informal networks. Planning efforts were initiated representing community district-wide needs. Eighty requests were processed through the procedure, and steps toward advocacy were taken through an early childhood services network. Families and service providers indicated that the procedure was beneficial both to individuals and conmunity planning efforts.

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