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Helping Children at Home and School III: Interview with the Editors

Helping Children at Home and School: Handouts for Families and Educators III, more fondly known as "The Handouts Book," was published by NASP in December 2010. Communiqué interviewed editors Andrea Canter, Leslie Paige, and Steven Shaw about the project.

What does this book cover and what makes it unique?

HCHSIII is the third NASP publication under this title, and the fourth edition of a collection of handouts aimed at families and educators. The goal from the beginning was to provide key information and resources in a user-friendly format on a wide range of topics about schooling, learning, behavior, mental health, developmental issues, and special education. The idea was not to replace journal articles and textbooks, but to translate the professional literature for nonpsychologists who live with and work with children.

The first such collection was published in 1992 as Helping Children Growing Up in the 90s, under the leadership of Alex Thomas, Jeff Grimes, and Debbie Waddell. HCHSI, edited by Andrea Canter and Servio Carroll, was published in 1998 as a big fat green binder. We (Andrea, Leslie Paige, Servio, Mark Roth, and Ivonne Romano) made it to the electronic age, sort of, in 2004 with the HCHSII, an even bigger (blue) binder with a companion CD. Ivonne coordinated the translation of a set of handouts into Spanish.

This third edition is paperless, solely available on CD-ROM. Like past editions, the scope is broad, with handouts organized around the general issues of parenting, schooling, learning, behavior, socialization and mental health, health and wellness, diversity, special populations, and crisis and safety, with a section for teens and a set of bibliographies on key topics as well as the set of handouts translated into Spanish.

What makes HCHSIII unique? While there are other collections of handouts on academic topics, such as Jack Naglieri’s publication for Brookes, HCHSIII covers the full range of child development and the challenges faced by children, families, educators, and other professionals; most handouts are geared to a lay audience, in cluding parents and youth. The CD format also makes this a far more user-friendly resource than a book, given search capabilities and the ease of printing single or multiple copies to hand out. And, of course, it is a lot easier to carry around a CD-ROM than a seven-pound binder!

Another unique feature of all editions of HCHS has been the author solicitation and reviewing process. Every handout is written by a professional(s) with expertise and experience with the topic. Although the vast majority of authors are school psychologists, we also drew upon the expertise of related professionals in education and behavioral/ health sciences. Some of our authors are well-known researchers as well as practitioners and trainers. Similarly, each handout was reviewed by (usually) two school psychologists with experience in the topic area in addition to the section editor. Although the handouts are typically only 3–4 pages, the editorial process was as labor-intensive as a textbook chapter.

HCHSIII was also NASP’s "guinea pig" project using electronic copyediting. With a contracted provider, each handout first went through an electronic program to ensure proper and consistent formatting and spell checking. While this meant two different copyediting phases (electronic followed by human), in the end it saved human time.

Finally, the format of each handout is relatively unique—each is designed to stand on its own and be printed for easy distribution.

How is this edition different from HCHSII?

HCHSIII is an expanded and updated edition. Overall it covers the same general topic areas, and many of the same topics appear in the new edition. A few of the handouts have relatively minor updates. Most of the handouts are newly written or significantly revised, some by the same authors but many with new authors. There are also 70 new topics (of the total 290), particularly in the sections for teens, health issues, and Spanish translations.

The translations were handled in a far more rigorous fashion for this edition. Under the leadership of Carlos Guerrero, the selected handouts were first translated using a professional service that has experience working with educational materials. Each translation was then reviewed by two bilingual school psychologists, and the reviews were then collated and reconsidered by another bilingual (native speaker) school psychologist before final editing.

And of course the format—electronic only—is a change from previous editions. The platform used for this CD-ROM reflects improvements in technology over the past decade. Users should find this easier and more flexible.

Who is the target audience? How do you envision people using HCHS3?

Although HCHSIII targets families and educators, it should prove useful to allied professionals and advocates (social workers, pediatricians, disability advocates, clinical psychologists) who work with schools, children, and families. As a resource for school psychologists, the handouts of course are to be passed on to our clients, but also provide a quick source of information on less familiar topics—such as some of the health and specific disability topics. None of us has expertise in everything we come across, and it’s very helpful to have quick access to current prevention and intervention information, and resources to go to for more.

We envision the handouts as part of the everyday consultation toolkit of the school psychologist; as part of the resource library of a special education or health services program; and on the desks of school administrators, pediatricians, and child advocates. For school psychologists and related school practitioners, we envision relevant handouts as part of the discussion of assessment findings and intervention options with families, as adjuncts to inservice training with school and community personnel or presentations to parents, and as part of the small group or one-to-one work with older students. Graduate students in school psychology and related disciplines may also find the handouts useful resources, although trainers and students need to remember that these are not definitive research articles and should never replace appropriate training materials.

Tell us about your backgrounds and qualifications to undertake this project.

Perhaps the most significant qualification is that Andrea and Leslie have done this before! Andrea has served as lead editor for each edition of HCHS and edited Communiqué for 12 years; Leslie was second editor for HCHSII and is a past chair of the NASP Publications Board. Steve has been a significant contributor to past editions, authoring a number of handouts on health-related issues, and serving as a Communiqué contributing editor, coeditor of the Pediatric Issues series, and new editor of School Psychology Forum. So we all had extensive editing experience just within the NASP network, as well as experience editing and soliciting handouts.

Andrea worked as a practitioner and supervisor in urban settings (Minneapolis) for 30 years before retiring in 2004. Her areas of research and practice particularly addressed behavioral and developmental disorders and RTI implementation. In addition to editing Communiqué and HCHS, she edited other publications for NASP and her state association, served on multiple editorial advisory boards, and held various elected and appointed positions within NASP leadership. Since retirement, she has worked as a consultant to training programs, taught ethics at the University of Minnesota, and serves on the NASP Ethics Advisory Panel.

Leslie worked as K–12 practitioner in rural Kansas for 25 years and became proficient in writing grants and managing large projects. In 2003, she left K–12 to work for Fort Hays State University where she coordinates the Office of Scholarship and Sponsored Projects, facilitating grant writing and other research administration and consulting activities. She served in many leadership positions for NASP, including treasurer, and was the NASP 1996 School Psychologist of the Year.

Steve has worked much of his career in pediatric psychology settings, including the Children’s Hospital in Greenville, SC, before moving across the border to McGill University in Montreal, where he is a school psychology trainer and researcher with a continuing emphasis on health-related issues.

What were the significant challenges to completing this project?

First and foremost, time! We got underway in October 2007 with a projected completion date of March 2010. We came close! All final edits to the English handouts were done by December 2009. But more time was needed to design the CD-ROM and test it out on various operating systems. Another big challenge was the Spanish translations project. Handouts could not be translated until the English versions were finalized, and it takes much longer to review (and revise) a handout with a bilingual eye. Carlos and his team did an amazing job on a relatively short time line, even after we determined that our publication date would be fall, not spring, 2010.

Beyond those two big hurdles were the usual challenges of any project, and particularly one involving over 200 authors and reviewers. Each editor was responsible for certain sections—soliciting authors, soliciting reviewers, keeping everyone on track, coordinating feedback and revisions, etc. The main editorial challenge was to ensure that each handout was based on current information and research, and was written in style and language appropriate for the intended audience (particularly challenging for our teen audience).

Once final edits were complete, we coordinated production efforts with the publications staff at the NASP office (the real heroes of this project)—they were the first line of communication with the company managing the electronic formatting. Each handout went through two or three rounds of additional proofreading. Staff also checked and rechecked Internet resources for accuracy, knowing that URLs go out of date in a blink, no matter what. And finally, it was a hassle to track down authors (some of our contact information was already 2 years old!) to complete copyright forms and ensure correct addresses for their comp copies. Again, NASP staff came through.

We’re really pleased with the way this turned out: The graphic design is cool and the CD-ROM format should make it an efficient as well as useful tool for a wide range of needs. We really thank the many authors, reviewers, and bilingual specialists involved in HCHSIII, and most of all we thank the NASP staff (particularly Denise Ferrenz, Linda Morgan, Brieann Kinsey, Carmen Villegas, Kathy Cowan) and supportive NASP Publications Board (particularly our liaison Nancy Peterson and then-chair Jim Batts).