For nearly three decades, The New England Center for Children (NECC) has been working on a pipeline for direct-care staff through its internship program, providing a steady stream of smart, hard-working, college students with a passion for special education and a desire to grow in the field. At last year’s Children of Promise Gala, attendees pledged funds to support the expansion of NECC’s program and its future interns. Because of these donations, NECC was able to welcome its largest class on interns in the program’s history this summer.
According to Ellen Graham, MA, CAGS, program director of graduate studies and internships, this is the second year that NECC has offered paid summer internships. Last summer, 29 interns completed 10-week internships from June to August, as well as two OT and two SLP interns during the summer. This year, NECC will welcome 47 interns throughout the summer.
“Because of the generosity of our donors, we were able to offer not only paid internships, but a limited number of housing spaces to the interns,” said Graham, adding that the interns pay a small fee, but much of the cost is subsidized by NECC. “It is definitely a benefit, considering how much housing costs are in the area right now. It is an advantage for us to be able to offer this to prospective interns and introduce new individuals to the NECC community.”
In addition to the hands-on learning the interns will get working on shift, Graham said that NECC will offer the paid interns a speaker series. “There will be seven scheduled speakers discussing different areas of working in the field of ABA, special education, and autism,” she said, sharing those topics will include the Infant Sibling Research Project, how to modify special education programming, and NECC’s vocational program.
Not only has NECC been able to secure interns from area colleges and universities, but four international students will fulfill one-year internships in Southborough – two interns from Ulster University in Ireland, one from National University of Ireland, Galway, and an ABA Spain student. “These interns are graduate students in applied behavior analysis who have come to NECC on a training visa to gain experience in ABA and then return to their country to work in the field,” said Graham. In addition to a stipend and several benefits, international interns receive invaluable research experience under supervision of a BCBA and work 25 hours per week in the classrooms.
“Being able to introduce these individuals to ABA and the great work NECC does on its Southborough campus in crucial to the future of the human services industry,” said Graham. “These internships provide hands-on experience and exposure to our field of work, to which many are drawn after completing their internships and beyond graduation. Many of our interns return to NECC for employment after their internships. While we won’t be able to solve the national staffing shortage, being able to offer these opportunities to future special educators is invaluable to both NECC and our industry.”
Graham added that NECC already has four interns and two Northeastern coops accepted for the fall semester. To learn more about NECC’s internships or to apply, visit here.