Early Childhood FAQ
What is Children’s Integrated Services – Early Intervention Program?
Families are central to the lives of children and parents know best what they want for themselves and their children. Supportive and developmentally appropriate information and early intervention programs that honor the expertise of each family can be helpful to parents when there are questions and concerns.
Children’s Integrated Services Program is a resource for families when they have questions or concerns about their child’s development during pregnancy, infancy and early childhood up to age 6. Within that program is Children’s Integrated Services – Early Intervention Program (CIS-EI). The Early Intervention Program is a family-centered coordinated system of services available for families with children from birth to age three who have or may have a health condition, which could lead to a delay in development.
Do you have a question or concern about your child?
If you have a question or concern about your child’s development or if your child has a special health condition, you can call the CIS-EI program to discuss your concerns and make a referral. CIS-EI brings together families and service providers from multiple agencies and schools across the community, which can include family resource coordinators, medical social workers, developmental educators, speech and language pathologists, physician therapists, occupational therapists, mental health specialists, autism specialists, nutritionists, vision and hearing specialists, assistive technology professionals. Many of these providers work together regularly on collaborative teams in your community.
What happens after you make a referral?
Once you make a referral, a member of the collaborative team in your area will come to your home or a place that works for you to listen to your concerns and hear about your child’s development and routines.
If you choose to have an evaluation, an early intervention provider from your child’s school district and a collaborative team member related to your area(s) of concern will come to your home and/or your child’s child care program to assess your child’s overall development. Areas of development that will be observed, discussed with you and assessed include speech, language and communication; motor development; understanding of objects/cognitive skills; self-help and coping skills; feelings and emotions; and relationships to people/social skills. CIS-Early Intervention providers work to ensure that your child and family have access to the widest array of services and resources available to you to best support your family throughout these early and important years.
What happens after your child’s development is assessed? What if your child has a delay or special health condition that may lead to a delay?
After your child’s assessment, your confidential evaluation report will be shared with you and if your child has an observable and measurable delay in an area or if they have a health condition that may lead to a delay such as prematurity, low birth weight… they are eligible for early intervention services at no cost to your family.
If you choose, you will work as partners with members of the collaborative team of professionals from your area to develop and implement an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). Along with the collaborative team members, you make up your child’s core team.
The IFSP will reflect the goals you have for your child and family, the services that will be provided, as well as the frequency of services, and the setting in which they will be provided. It will honor and take into account your routines, culture, lifestyle and community. Services are provided in your child’s natural environments and the places that are most convenient to your family: your home, your child care center, community playgroup or other places in the community with children who have typical development.
The IFSP is a flexible plan, which changes as your child grows and develops. The initial IFSP will be developed within 45 days of your referral and services will begin within 3- days of your IFSP meeting.
Who are the people that will support your family and what is your role?
As parents, you play a critical role in carrying over early intervention strategies between visits with your providers and during visits with your early intervention service providers. You are the most important people in your child’s development and on the core team. Your ongoing feedback and input will help shape your visits with providers as well as your IFSP. You can stop participating in the CIS-EI Program at any time. It is a voluntary program available to you at no cost.
You will likely have a regular visitor, a primary service provider. This could be a developmental educator, a speech and language pathologist, a physical therapist or an occupational therapist. This primary service provider will provide direct service to you and your family with play-based early intervention. If your child has multiple areas of concern you may have multiple visitors on your core team who specialize in different areas of development. All families have access to information from all members of the collaborative team even if you have on primary service provider. The members of the collaborative team in your area meet regularly and with your permission, can consult with one another to best service your child across all areas. A service coordinator is another member of your family’s core team.
Family Resource Coordinators offer an important component in providing family=centered care to families. Family Resource Coordinators are parents of a child with special needs and is a member of the core team. They are often the people who take your referral or make first contact with you to meet you. They can participate in the eligibility determination process and the development and implementations of the IFPS. Family Resource Coordinators also provide you with information about the range of community resources and can work to connect you with other parents in your community.
The service coordinator is a member of the collaborative team in your area and will be provided to your family to help arrange services, support you with accessing resources and to facilitate meetings and transitions. The service coordinator could be your primary service provider, a family resource coordinator or a medical social worker, depending on your family’s needs and wishes.
All member s of the collaborative team are mandated by the state of Vermont to report any concerns about abuse and neglect.
What will services look like over time?
You work with your child’s providers to review your IFSP and create new foals if needed every six months or sooner if you choose. A number of children meet the foals you set for them and there are no longer concerns about their development. If your child develops age-appropriate skills across all areas, they exit from the program after an assessment shows that there are no longer delays in development. If your child is no longer eligible for CIS-EI services, your core team members can discuss with you other opportunities in the community for your child and family.
If there continue to be concerns about your child’s development three months prior to your child’s third birthday, you can choose to make a transition plan for your child with the CIS-EI service providers you have at that time and with educators from the school district you live in. Families work together with the school based interventionists to develop Individualized Education Plans (IEP). If a child is transitioning from CIS-EI Programs at age three, members of your Early Intervention Core Team can also support your and the school based team in the IEP process.
What are the costs of EI services?
There is no cost to the family for receiving Early Intervention Program. With the family’s permission, insurance and Medicaid can be billed for services to ensure that CIS-EI Programs are sustainable.
Who pays for Children’s Integrated Services-Early Intervention (CIS-EI)?
CIS-EI is a national, federally mandated program available to all children and families who need it without cost to the individual children and their families. Families are asked if they wish to access private insurance or Medicaid for CIS-EI services, but are not required to do so.
Everyone pays for (CIS-EI) through federal and state taxes.
What does research tell us about the effectiveness of early intervention?
- It is likely to be more effective and less costly to create the right early childhood development conditions than to address problems at a later age. *
- Policy initiatives that promote supportive and rich learning opportunities for young children create a strong foundation for higher school achievement followed by greater productivity in the workplace and solid citizenship in the community. *
- Genes and experience shape the architecture of the developing brain. The active ingredient is the “serve and return” nature of children’s engagement in relationships with their parents and other caregivers in their family or community. *
- Brains are built over time. Brain architecture and developing abilities are built “from the bottom up” as simple circuits and skills over time serve as bridges to more advanced circuits and skills. *
- Toxic stress in early childhood can damage a developing brain and lead to lifelong problems in learning, behavior, and physical and mental health. *
- Child development is a foundation for community development and economic development, as capable children mature into valuable human resources. *
- Substantial progress toward this goal can be achieved by assuring growth-promoting experiences both at home and in community-based settings, through a range of parent education, family support, early child care and education, preschool, and intervention services.*
*The Science of Early Childhood Development – by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.