PEPOpE Program

PEPOPE logo image

Preparing Early Intervention Providers for the Opioid Epidemic (PEPOpE) is an interdisciplinary training program for master’s level students in the College of Allied Health at the University of Cincinnati studying occupational therapy (OT), social work (SW), and speech-language pathology (SLP). The program will prepare 42 students to be highly effective and highly qualified allied health professionals prepared to meet the needs of children with intra-uterine opioid exposure (IOE) and their families.

Students can apply for the PEPOpE program in the Spring of their first year of study (SW Advanced Standing may have different timelines). Selected students will complete three semesters of training, beginning with the Summer Semester leading into Year 2 of their program and continuing through the Spring Semester of Year 2 (see Overview of Training for additional information). Through coursework, field experiences, and service-learning, participants will acquire the skills necessary to work with children and families impacted by the opioid epidemic in early intervention. Additionally, participants will develop their leadership skills and gain an understanding of system-level improvement strategies. Participants who receive funding through the PEPOpE program are required to complete two years of repayment service by working with children with disabilities and their families.

The project team includes Project Director Lesley Rasior-Becker (Speech-Language Pathology), Xan Boone (Social Work), and Kelly Kennedy (Occupational Therapy). 

The PEPOpE Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, H325K190069 (2019-2024).

directors of the program

Program Objectives

Upon completion of the PEPOpE Program, participants will:

  1. Acquire a robust knowledge of the bio-behavioral impact of IOE on development in children birth to three.
  2. Deliver individualized, intensive interventions for children with IOE to facilitate development and mitigate areas of future developmental risk.
  3. Engage in interdisciplinary practices that facilitate optimal outcomes for children with IOE and their families in early intervention.
  4. Demonstrate the leadership skills and dispositions necessary to facilitate interdisciplinary, inclusive, culturally competent practices and promote high expectations for children, families, and professionals in early intervention.

Overview of Program

The PEPOpE Program includes 3 semesters of specialized coursework and experiences designed to integrate with and support the discipline-specific graduate program. Participants apply in the Spring of their first year of study and complete the required elements across the next 3 semesters.

Program requirements include:

  • 3 total one-day, on-site seminars (support for travel)
  • An interdisciplinary, early-intervention course for program participants (CSD 7086; online)
  • Graduate Seminar I “Opioid Exposure and Early Development: Interprofessional Collaboration” (CSD 7087C; online) 
  • Graduate Seminar II “Quality Improvement in Early Intervention Services: Intervening with Families Affected by the Opioid Epidemic (CSD 7088C; online) 
  • A service-learning experience that will be completed with families in recovery from opioid use disorder
  • An abbreviated field experience in the Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome Clinic at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
  • A discipline-specific early intervention field placement
  • A Capstone Project; this project will also be presented at our annual community workshop
  • A two-year post-graduation service commitment to work with children with disabilities and their families
Timeline per specific program
  Program Beings Apply for PEPOpE PEPOpE Begins
Occupational Therapy Summer Year 1 February Year 1

End of Spring Semester Year 1 (Late April)

Speech-Language Pathology Fall Year 1 February Year 1

End of Spring Semester Year 1 (Late April)

Social Work Fall or Summer Year 1, depending on program February Year 1

End of Spring Semester Year 1 (Late April)

Program Curriculum
  Summer Semester Fall Semester Spring Semester
One Day Onsite Seminar April  August January
Coursework Early Intervention CSD-7086 (online)  Graduate Seminar I CSD-7087C (online) Graduate Seminar II CSD-7088C (online)
Required Field Experiences (the actual semester will vary based on the specific program) Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome Clinic (abbreviated experience) Service Learning Community Early Intervention Program

PEPOpE Program

Participants selected for the PEPOpE Program will receive:

  • Mentorship from faculty and previous PEPOpE participants
  • A unique interdisciplinary training experience
  • Three semesters of full-time tuition support
  • Travel support (mileage) for all one-day seminars and the community workshop
  • Complimentary copies of all required seminar texts
  • Support for the necessary background checks

Program Requirements

Applicants must:

  • Be in good standing within their academic program
  • Be able to manage the supplemental activities including online coursework, in-person meetings and field experiences
  • Apply to participate in the program during the first year of their graduate program in occupational therapy, social work, or speech-language pathology (SW Advanced Standing students must apply by the Fast-Track deadline)
  • Complete the online application, including recommendation letters from their department and one other source
  • Agree to a post-graduation service obligation to work with children with disabilities and their families for two years after completion of the program

Information Sessions

Spring virtual Information sessions for the PEPOpE Project

  • January 29th at 7:00 pm
  • February 8th at 7 pm

Zoom Room to join for Information Session Jan 29th.>>

Zoom Room to join for Information Session February 8.>>

Application Deadlines

Application deadline for Occupational Therapy and Speech-Language Pathology—March 1st

Application deadline for Social Work students—March 31st