EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a series of monthly outreach columns from the Champaign County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
I wanted to take this month and discuss the Early Intervention services that the Champaign County Board of Developmental Disabilities (DD) provides to the community. Research has shown that early intervention impacts a child’s developmental path and can improve outcomes that affect the rest of their lives. We are privileged at the Champaign County Board of DD that our community support allows us to provide this valuable service.
The Early Intervention (EI) Department at the Champaign County Board of DD serves infants and toddlers up to the age of three. The local EI Department works as a team with Ohio Early Intervention (formerly Help Me Grow) and Champaign County Family and Children First Council (FCFC). Referrals are taken by Ohio Early Intervention and sent to the local Early Intervention Service Coordinator. Many families are referred by their doctor, but referrals also come directly from the families themselves who have noticed a developmental concern with their child.
Evaluations take place in the child’s home and are conducted by trained staff. To be eligible for EI, a child must have a qualifying diagnosis, a delay in at least one area of development based on scores from an evaluation, or a delay based on the informed clinical opinion of the evaluation team. Once the child is determined to be eligible for EI, the service coordinator works with the family and the professional staff to develop outcomes (goals) for the child. Some common outcomes revolve around daily living skills such as eating and drinking, language skills or speech, rolling over, or walking.
Once outcomes are developed, home visits for intervention are scheduled. All services are provided in the child’s natural environment, meaning their home, daycare, or wherever they spend most of their time. The EI staff works with the child and coaches their caregivers on different interventions and strategies. Families are expected to incorporate these strategies into their daily routines between home visits in order to help the child make progress. As a child progresses, the team will assess the child to determine if they need continued early intervention services. When a child is approaching the age of three and the family is interested in preschool services, the service coordinator will schedule a meeting with the preschool to begin the evaluation process for preschool special education services.
The Champaign County Board of DD employs highly trained Developmental Specialists and contracts with therapists in the areas of speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy. These professionals work closely as a team to best support the child and family in working towards their developmental outcomes. The Early Intervention Service Coordinator is a vital member of the team who ensures the child’s Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is being implemented correctly. Our EI Department is truly a collaborative team and they use that approach to assist families in Champaign County to meet their developmental potential.
Early Intervention is one of the many non-mandated services your local county board provides to the community at no cost to eligible children. We are able to provide these services because of the wonderful community support the Champaign County Board of DD has received over the years.
If you have any questions about Early Intervention of any of our other services, please call us at 937-653-1770. If you would like to make a referral for Early Intervention, please call 937-653-4490. Also, don’t forget to check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/champaigncbdd.org!
Leigh Anne Wenning is the superintendent of Champaign County Board of DD.