Focus on Early Intervention – Best Practices

Early last year, DODD and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) announced a transition plan to move some areas of technical assistance and training to DODD, and improve coordination efforts for Early Intervention (EI) Services, Part C.  A federal program administered by states, EI Part C serves families with infants and toddlers through age two with developmental delays, or who have diagnosed physical or mental conditions likely to result in developmental delays.

To support these efforts, an Assistant Deputy Director in the Division of Policy and Strategic Direction, Kim Hauck, was hired to lead DODD Early Intervention programs. She manages the Department’s responsibilities for Part C, offered under ODH Help Me Grow services, ensuring that Ohio children and families in all counties can access the full range of services throughout the system.  Announcing Hauck’s appointment and the stronger emphasis on Early Intervention services, DODD Director John Martin commented,

The most important work performed in our system is Early Intervention services. Giving families the supports and tools to create a better life for the family, while putting the child on a life-long path toward full and meaningful community participation is what we hope for in Early Intervention.”

Cuyahoga County EI Services

Hauck is excited about the direction in which EI services are changing around the state, and spotlights a major program redirection in Cuyahoga County, supported by 30 years of research as evidence-based.  She noted, “We’re coming up on the second anniversary of a huge program shift in Cuyahoga County. Building on evidence-based practices has really improved outcomes for the children and families involved.”

The Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities (CCBDD) facility-based program was closed during the summer of June 2012, which affected 13 classrooms in five buildings, along with a traditional home-based service.  The CCBDD newsletter, Insight, noted,

What works changes. The Cuyahoga County Board of DD Early Childhood Services underwent a significant transformation from a site-based program to a home-based one. The new method, launched on September 4, 2012, follows three components: Teaming; the use of a primary service provider; and, coaching as a strategy for early intervention.”

Research indicates that to be most effective, services for very young children should focus on providing the assistance the parents and other primary care givers need to support the child’s development.  Those family-directed services should be delivered in natural settings during everyday routines.

Hauck explains that CCBDD is an excellent example of a large county with a strong program taking an entirely new direction and showing success. CCBDD worked closely with the larger Help Me Grow system leadership to develop eight core teams, each serving specific zip codes, organized by regions.  At minimum, each team has a CCBDD developmental specialist, speech/language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, and a Help Me Grow service coordinator. Hauk noted that CCBDD staff has provided support to neighboring counties in these efforts, as well. “They are more than willing to share their experiences in this process.”

Watch this short video which describes the service model.

Improving motor skills in the home’s living room with a CCBDD Physical Therapist.  Photo courtesy, CCBDD.

Improving motor skills in the home’s living room with a CCBDD Physical Therapist.
Photo courtesy, CCBDD

In a family kitchen, working on communication skills.  Photo by Lost Tribe videographer.

In a family kitchen, working on communication skills.
Photo by Lost Tribe videographer

Members of this service team conduct an evaluation and assessment to determine a child’s eligibility for services, and to identify specific services that may be needed. The team, including the family, identifies a member to be the family’s primary service provider and develop the Individualized Family Service Plan. Teams meet weekly with children served and their families to discuss progress.

CCBDD Director of Assistive Technology and Children’s Services Jacquie Kasprisin summed up the experience transitioning from the site-based services to the new approach. “We made the transition to evidence-based services quickly.  In eight months’ time, our EI, pre-school, and school age services simultaneously were transitioning to more typical settings. Initially, we were most concerned about family response, community reaction, and providing seamless services to more than 1300 children.”  She continued,

Our first year in this approach focused on structure and team process, and our second year has honed adherence to EIBI practices, outcome measurement, and community integration. We’ve been very successful due to a strong leadership team and dedicated staff. There’s no greater measure of success than feedback from the people you serve!”

Families new to Ohio’s DD services system often are surprised and happy to learn that there is no charge for Early Intervention services at County Boards. Local levy dollars fund most of the local EI services. It is important to note also, that DODD and the Ohio DD Council have provided resources to train 35 counties in this evidence-based EI services approach, with ten additional counties joining the training in November. Any County Board that is interested in this training should contact Kim Hauck at  Kimberley.Hauck@dodd.ohio.gov.

Additional information is online at Early Intervention services, and also in Pipeline, July 31, 2013.

E.I. contacts: Kimberley.Hauck@dodd.ohio.gov; Kasprisin.Jacquelin@cuyahogabdd.org

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