Early Intervention and Child Care…Natural Partners in Natural Environments
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Early Intervention and Child Care…Natural Partners in Natural Environments

♪♪ uptempo music ♪♪ (female narrator)
Illinois’ Early Intervention Program’s mission is to assure that families
who have infants and toddlers, birth to 36 months old with diagnosed disabilities, developmental delays, or substantial risk
of significant delays, receive resources
and supports that assist them in maximizing
their child’s development, while respecting the diversity of families and communities. Early Intervention builds
upon the natural learning occurring in
those first few years and is supported in each child’s
natural environment. Early Intervention services
and supports may: Answer a family’s questions about their child’s development, Provide you with supports and adaptations for your program, Early intervention services
are family centered and based on strengths, concerns, and priorities identified
by the family. Since services
are family centered, families have a choice about whether
or not to participate. If they decide to participate,
providers will be respectful of the family’s interests,
values, and preferences for where services will occur. (woman)
Children learn best through everyday experiences
with familiar people, in familiar settings. Accordingly,
federal regulations require early intervention services to be provided
in the natural environment, which is defined as settings
that are natural or normal for the child’s same age peers
who have no disability. This can be a family’s home,
childcare setting, or community setting. (narrator)
Each child develops
at his or her own pace, however there is a typical
sequence of development that is expected. If through a formal
developmental screening or through observation
of a child’s development, you have concerns about an infant or toddler’s
development or behavior, you should talk with the family
about your concerns. As a childcare provider, you are considered
a primary referral source. As such, you are required to
make a referral to the EI system when a delay is identified. Families should be informed
of referrals and given information
about how they can contact their Child and Family
Connections office. Remember that participation
and further evaluation and assessment is entirely
voluntary for families. Child and Family
Connections Offices are the regional intake entities
for children and families to enter the Illinois
Early Intervention system. There are 25 CFC offices
located around the state, each being responsible
for a specific geographic area. CFC offices employ
early intervention credentialed
Service Coordinators. Service Coordinators assist the
family with the intake process. After a referral is made, a Service Coordinator
will contact the family within two business days to schedule intake where the Service Coordinator
will share information about the system, collect information
about the child and family and begin identifying
strengths and needs. The family and Service
Coordinator will discuss the eligibility process
for services in Illinois. Once a child’s
eligibility is determined, an Individualized Family Service
Plan, or IFSP, is developed to identify meaningful, functional outcomes for the family and child, and the services that
will help the family achieve those outcomes. Services are then incorporated into the family’s
natural environments, which may be their home, community, childcare, or other setting identified
by the family. Outcomes are based
on the family’s strengths, needs, routines, and interests. The frequency of early
intervention services is determined by the IFSP team. This team includes the family,
the Service Coordinator, Early Intervention providers, and anyone else chosen
by the family. If services are taking place
in a childcare setting, you may be invited
to participate in this meeting to support the family
and the rest of the team. As a team,
their presence is vital because when she would come
to IFSP meetings, she would be able to talk
about what she saw Logan doing in her care which might be different
than what I saw at home. So the team as a whole
was able to get a bigger picture of what my child was like just
based on the different feedback. (narrator)
Whenever possible, early intervention services should be provided in the contexts in which the child will need
to utilize the skills. For example,
language skills addressed during parts
of childcare routines where child is expected to
verbalize and indicate choices. (man)
I’ve really
appreciated the teamwork between the therapists and the fact that they seem to
know what each other are doing; that they seem
to read each other’s reports on how things are going. They do seem to coordinate
the different things that they’re doing to the- to
the greatest benefit of my son and so their-their knowledge
of not only what they are doing, but what the other people
are doing is, uh, tremendously helpful. (woman)
A lot of the strategies should be embedded
in just daily routines so it shouldn’t feel like
extra work for them. So they should really just go on
with their daily routines and just bring in those
extra strategies. (woman)
Ideally, um, the, uh, child would be in the classroom with all the other students
and with the teacher and so the teacher
can learn skills of how the everyday experiences can be improved. Y’know, somebody comes in
from-from EI and it’s like “ohh yeah, here let’s do this, this, this and this.” And s-I mean, and you-you can almost see the kid just, like the pressure come
off of the kid and you’re like, “okay, show me what you just did.” (woman)
Talking with the
child care provider after, you know, or during each session about what’s been going on throughout the week and, um, what they see as their concerns and struggles are, as well as what the family might have concerns with and kind of giving
them information about whatever
they are concerned with. It’s a collaborative,
uh, team effort that we’re all there for the best inf-interest of the child, and we all want
this child to succeed, so, um, the more that we stay
on the same page together, you know, the better the
outcomes will be for the child. (narrator)
You can support a family
in EI in many ways. First, you can help the family
identify a developmental concern such as a delay
in language development. Although it is very important
to share concerns you have with the family
in a timely manner, make sure to be sensitive
when approaching a parent. Be willing to support
and respect their responses and avoid diagnosing the child
with a specific disability. Second, you can raise families’
awareness of the availability of early intervention services by providing them with resources such as the phone number
for their local CFC office and information
on the EI program in your area. If you identify a concern, you are required
to make a referral to your local CFC office
as well. Third, with
the family’s permission, you can provide information during the assessment
and intervention phases. If a child comes into your
childcare program with an identified special need, ask to work with the family on their early
intervention outcomes. You may ask for permission
to see the child’s IFSP and use it
to guide your activities. Finally, you can welcome
and partner with early intervention providers in your center or home-based childcare setting. There are many benefits for supporting early
intervention services for children
in their childcare setting. Just to name a few, on average, children of working mothers spend 35 hours a week
in childcare, so childcare providers develop
a caregiving bond that is critical
to children’s development. In addition, early intervention
providers can observe children interacting with peers and
age-appropriate activities. And last but not least,
early intervention providers and childcare providers
can combine skills to implement strategies
systematically throughout the day. As a childcare provider, in addition to you-
the child’s parents, you are the earliest
and most important teacher. (woman)
If everybody is on board
and the kid is, it’s gonna be just totally
and completely life changing. (Robert)
I’ve got a lot
of other partners in this and they’re listening to me and I’m-I’m doing my best
to listen to them. Of course, of, uh, my wife
and I then talk to each other about what’s happening
with the therapy and-and it provides just more,
uh, m-m-more voices, more experience, and-and trying to, uh,
make an assessment of what he might need
and what he might not. And a lot of the things
we were afraid that he would need,
he didn’t need, but we know that now and have a kind of
a confidence and an assurance because we did-we did work
with early intervention. ♪♪ background music ♪

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