What is early intervention? Great question! Check out this link for an overview of what that might mean for your state. Here in the state of Illinois our mission is as follows: “Illinois’ Early Intervention program’s mission is to assure that families who have infants and toddlers, birth to three, 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.” This statement can be found on the DHS website here. If you are interested in articles/research that supports early intervention this site provided several pertinent links.
What types of providers exist in early intervention? We have the person who conducts global evaluations known as the Developmental Therapist. We have Occupational and Physical Therapists. Social Workers, Nutritionists, Interpreters, Parent Liaisons, Social Emotional Specialists and in my opinion the most overlooked – the service coordinators. Oh, and hello, us speech pathologists! If you have a concern regarding your child who is under the age of 3 consider looking at the link above to see what resources are available. For those in Illinois here is a site that provides a list of the Child and Family Connections which would be a starting point to help your child.
The current hot topic in our state (Illinois) and in the birth through three population is the reimbursement for services. What does this mean? In the state of Illinois, the providers in early intervention have been consistently delayed in getting paid at least the past 2 1/2 to 3 years. By delayed, I mean 10-12 weeks behind. Many times the release of 1-2 weekly vouchers occurs right before the 12 week mark. At that point the state owes providers interest for being behind in payment. In the past several years, I think that has only happened once.
That being said, why do I stay in early intervention as a provider? My mom might ask the same question. You know those parents worry about their kids and their welfare even as we get older. I see some private clients or am reimbursed by insurance for some children so not all of my funding comes directly from early intervention but for my Developmental Therapy friends it does. Many moons ago…8 years ago, a program near and dear to my heart closed due to reimbursement for services, specifically group services provided onsight. In case you are not aware there is a diffference between reimbursement for onsite vs. offsite services. The Little Friends, Parent Infant Program, ran many different types of groups dependent on the child’s age, developmental concerns, and/or diagnosis.
Those types of groups in early intervention (in Illinois) rarely exist in today’s times. Having been a part of that time frame I will always consider this a missed resource for the children and families, not too mention the providers. Having several disciplines in one spot for collaboration, co-treats and just day to day contact is something I miss for this population. Now, often times phone calls are placed only to receive a voice message and to play phone tag. The groups also provided parents opportunities to network, connect, and to make friendships. Per my observation, more of those connections occur via electronic devices and social media today (In case you are interested in my post regarding electronic devices and the impact on relationships check out this post here.).
Which again, you might ask, why stay in early intervention? Honestly, I am honored to be a part of this network of providers. Early Intervention means I have the opportunity to be a part of a team. I get to serve with other persons who are helping that child and that family. To maintain my credentialing I get to attend trainings with other early intervention professionals. I have consistent opportunities for learning and collaborating. I have met so many providers on this journey. What a gift it is to meet others who have a common interest in the well-being and development of children.
It means that when a client cancels I can have coffee with a colleague. Occasionally I recline the seat in my car and rest my eyes in between appointments. And, of course, this means I get to drive around and sing in my car all day. I just recently went to a Bon Jovi concert with 5 high school friends so several of his songs are on repeat in my car. Trust me, I am singing! My sister and I used to sing into water bottles (our pretend microphones) which I still occasionally do.
This is an integral time for families just recognizing that their child may have a delay, coming to terms with a possible diagnosis, guiding a family who has medically fragile child, etc. Working with a family is rewarding and humbling. We are often the first persons outside of the family who consistently come into the home. We have the opportunity to develop relationships with these children and their families. Relationships are really the foundation for development. Did you have the opportunity to check out my post Social Emotional: An SLP Perspective?
I was just at a training, Empowering Professionals and the key note speaker talked about this concept. (She was phenomenal in my opinion.) Check out Kristie Pretti-Frontczak Ph.D. at PreKTeachandPlay.com. If you are driving around like me then her podcasts (here is the link) might work out great for you. One of my takeaways from this training and which I love is that we can help teach children to internally regulate. How?…through modeling and developing those relationships with our kids.
I love my job. What does early intervention mean to you? Are you a provider? A parent? A friend? Let’s here from you!
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