Entering school is an important step in the development of a child, because it enters a new environment, meets new peers and adults and must adapt to new requirements and expectations (Jamieson et al., 2014). Approximately 5% of all children have a developmental language disorder (DLD). Many caregivers of children with DLD in the Netherlands feel insufficiently supported in the transition from specialised health care to educational settings (ten Hove, 2018, Keij, Scheper & Bonder, 2019, Deelkracht, 2020). Around 2100 Dutch pre-schoolers with DLD are currently visiting an early intervention treatment group in specialised health care (based on a count of all early intervention treatment groups in the Netherlands). This project aims at smoothening the transition from specialised health care to education for children with DLD and their caregivers. The central question of this project is: How can the transition from specialised health care to education be optimized for children with DLD? To answer this question, the bottlenecks, needs and best practices of the different stakeholders (caregivers, professionals in specialised health care, and professionals in regular and special education) will be gathered and translated into one or more practical tools.
The plan is to start this project in April 2021 for a duration of 2 years. An overview of the design of this project comprises the following activities: 1) gathering and analysing bottlenecks, needs and best practices (BNBP) in the transition from specialised health care to education (CtoE) from the perspective of the different stakeholders: caregivers, professionals in specialised health care and professionals in special and regular education, 2) writing a report with recommendations for the transition from ‘CtoEforDLD’ based on the knowledge gathered in activity 1, 3) developing one or more practical tools for stakeholders based on the report ‘CtoEforDLD’ and evaluating the usability of the newly developed tool(s), 4) implementing the newly developed tool(s) ‘CtoEforDLD’ for usage by relevant stakeholders. The tool(s) should provide concrete handles to caregivers, professionals in specialised care and in regular and special education in order to smoothen the transition process, both for caregivers and their children. The project fits well within the current research programme on children with DLD in the Netherlands (Deelkracht). Although the project focuses on children with DLD in specialised health care, the project will also provide valuable insights for children who receive treatment by a speech and language therapist in regular care. This project succeeds if caregivers feel more confident in the transition process and if they experience more continuity in the support for their child with DLD.