Image of Dr. Bonnie Keilty
"Families make decisions about how they want to parent. Professionals are just one more resource families may use."
Outline of a white open envelope. Beneath envelope is Bonnie Keilty written in script.
Bonnie Keilty

How did I come to this space? I come to this space as a university and inservice instructor, researcher, and practitioner, all with a lens towards families and families being parents the way they’ve always wanted to be a parent. I’ve strived to prepare preservice students and inservice participants to practice in ways that put families – their diverse and individual characteristics – at the forefront of our work. I’ve asked questions about how the early childhood field works and ways we may continue to evolve, including (1) what does it mean to truly practice in strengths-based ways, (2) how can we support families with prenatal diagnoses, and (3) how can we best prepare university students in home visiting. 

Why am I here? I believe that the early childhood intervention field is not finished evolving. We have moved from professional-implemented interventions to family participation based on their priorities and routines. This does not seem the end of truly seeing families as confident and competent in their role as parent. And most particularly for families whose identity characteristics may be different from professionals. This only happens by having difficult, complex conversations where the “answers” may not come easy but I believe are conversations worth having and necessary if we are to move the field forward. 

What do I want? I want help to grow and transform myself and the privileged-based systems so each and every family’s vision for their future occurs. I want each and every family to feel confident and competent in their role as a parent, which means being able to parent the way they always intended to parent. I want the field to recognize that intersectionality is complex and that a social justice lens requires understanding all family characteristics, with disability being only one such characteristic. I want the power to sit with each and every family and systems to truly be responsive to the power within families.

How did I come to this space? I came to this space and these conversations, after many years as a researcher where words such as family-centered practices, help-giving, family support, family functioning, and parenting confidence and competence framed the work. 

Why am I here? I am now looking for different words – words that insist that families have the power to direct their own lives and words that reflect that I am just one of the people that might be a resource for families in their journey. 

I believe that the role of community members is to co-design with families what they may dream of for their families. I feel that we must enter this work with families through the lens of social justice, strengths, humility, respect, and action. Therefore, I must acknowledge my position as a white, nondisabled, female, who has access to resources that comes from white privilege.

What do I want? I want help to grow and transform myself and the privileged-based systems that I come from so that families’ visions for their future can occur. To do this, I must engage in conversations and actions that are hard but essential to do.

I have spent most of my career in early childhood special education. I focused on supporting families of young children with special needs. I come with educational experiences in sociology, special education, child development, and family relations. I am currently learning with master’s and PhD students in the Department of Early Childhood Education at East Tennessee State University. 

image of Carol Trivette
Outline of a white open envelope. Beneath envelope is Bonnie Keilty written in script.
Carol M. Trivette
image of Kerry Bull
Outline of a white open envelope. Beneath envelope is Bonnie Keilty written in script.
Kerry Bull

How did I come to this space? I come here as a practitioner, researcher, trainer, EI manager and consultant. With this background, my interest is in translating research to practice and in better understanding how parents want to raise their children, help them thrive, and be together as a family. I’m interested in how the field of EI is evolving from acknowledging family strengths, to utilizing their strengths. I’m also interested in how our understanding of the importance of interactions and experiences on children’s learning, development and wellbeing is influencing the way we work in the EI field.

Why am I here? I’m here because I want to learn and contribute to the early intervention field by evolving our practices. Our sector has made paradigm shifts in the past few decades in areas such as family centered practices, working in natural environments and building the capacity of the important people in children’s lives. I think we need to continue to develop in ways that are responsive to children, families, communities, and our changing society. I want to hear from people who will challenge my thinking.

What do I want? I want to build on our current practices and explore new ways of supporting families in EI. I want to address the actual, perceived, and potential imbalances of power between parents and professionals so that we can work together in more productive and mutually beneficial ways. I want us all to be open to learning from each other and kind and respectful in our relationships.

Interested in learning more about The Envelope?