Phoebe Rinkel Chosen to Spearhead the Use of Recommended Practices for Young Children with Disabilities


Phoebe Rinkel will serve as a statewide "ambassador" to spearhead use of new recommended practices for the care and education of young children with disabilities. Rinkel, an early childhood instructional specialist for the Shawnee Mission School District, joins a select group of 16 experts chosen by the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute.

"We hand-picked the ambassadors for their broad expertise and skills," said Joan Danaher, associate director of the ECTA. "They form a national cohort with knowledge of evidence-based practices, professional development and training, and their state's early childhood services and practitioner networks."Photograph of Phoebe Rinkle

Danaher explained that ambassadors will serve as an extension of the ECTA Center, disseminating information and providing training within their states. Not only will ambassadors collaborate with one another to develop and share strategies and resources, but each will develop and implement goals aligned with a state improvement effort.

"As part of this inaugural group of ambassadors, Phoebe Rinkel will also participate in designing, documenting, and making recommendations for subsequent groups as we continue to disseminate materials nationally," said Danaher.

The Division for Early Childhood (DEC) of the Council for Exceptional Children developed the Recommended Practices to provide guidance to practitioners and families about the most effective ways to improve learning outcomes and promote the development of young children, birth to age 5, who have or are at-risk for developmental delays or disabilities.

Danaher said that through a cooperative agreement with the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education, the ECTA Center has developed a suite of products for practitioners and families to learn how to apply the Recommended Practices to developmental interventions in everyday routines and settings involving children and families. All of the products and resources are free, including popular videos starring "aRPy," an animated spokesperson created by the ECTA Center.

Rinkel and her fellow "aRPy Ambassadors" are based in state and local agencies and universities. They will receive support for their roles from state programs for children with disabilities birth through age 5 under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

"I look forward to actively promoting knowledge and use of the Recommended Practices through the practical tools that have been created and helping to develop new tools for the field," Rinkel said. "In my new position as early childhood instructional specialist in the state's third largest school district, I'll be able to see what works and what's needed to promote and evaluate implementation of the Recommended Practices in everyday learning settings for young children."

Rinkel said she has been working with infants and preschoolers with special needs, their families, and the adults who support them for more than 30 years, with nearly 10 years of providing training and technical assistance across Kansas to urban and rural programs and school districts of all sizes. She is also a frequent presenter at national and state conferences for professionals and families.

The aRPy Ambassadors will debut at the DEC International Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, on October 18.

More about aRPy:

Meet the aRPy Ambassadors:

Learn more about the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute:


Phoebe Rinkel
Early Childhood Instructional Specialist
Shawnee Mission School District
Shawnee Mission Instructional Support Center
9700 West 96th St., Overland Park, KS 66212-5199

Permission has been given by Frank Porter Graham Grants to use and/or disseminate this story in whole or in part.

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