Part C early intervention is a program administered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2004) that provides services to eligible infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. Part C coordinators oversee the program in states. This article presents an examination of state Part C program coordinators’ leadership practices. We conducted a qualitative secondary analysis to explore the practices that Part C program coordinators described using in a prior study on the processes, barriers, and solutions during a systems change. The present study used two new theoretical frameworks – organizational drivers for systems change and a strengths-based orientation – to create a positive lens on leadership through which to view identified practices. We selected five interview transcriptions with five state Part C program coordinators that contained explicit reflections about leadership behaviors in systems as our primary data set. Five categories of leadership practice emerged from a progressive inductive-deductive coding process: meeting practitioners where they are, identifying leaders, establishing consistent procedures, readying professionals, and relationships. These themes aligned with organizational drivers of systems change and highlighted the consistent use of a specific type of leadership: facilitative administration. Implications for the study of systems leadership in early intervention are discussed.


early intervention, leadership, systems change, qualitative secondary analysis, organizational drivers, strengths-based lens

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Sarika S. Gupta (https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3750-0132) is a senior researcher with the Straus Center for Young Children and Families at the Bank Street College of Education. She partners with leaders to examine issues in early childhood systems. Her research centers around the inclusion and belonging of children, families, and professionals through their positionalities, abilities, and experiences. Please direct correspondence to sgupta@bankstreet.edu.

Dr. Victoria Sherif (https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1552-6921) is assistant professor of educational leadership at Wichita State University. Her research centers around issues related to qualitative secondary analysis. She is also interested in examination of the development and practice of leadership in early childhood and secondary education, as well as leadership of school district superintendents to foster their impact on the educational systems change.

Xiaohan Zhu (https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4228-5097) is a doctoral candidate in the Contemporary Learning and Interdisciplinary Research program at Fordham University. Her research is dedicated to understanding the ecology of human development in immigrant families, elevating the strengths and assets of the local communities, and how cultural-based family practices would inform policies.

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