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EI in Virginia

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All U.S. states and territories provide early intervention supports and services to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. The law that makes this possible is called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This law is divided into parts; early intervention for infants and toddlers is Part C of the law. You may hear someone say Part C or Part C early intervention when referring to the early intervention system.

The federal government sets program guidelines that all states follow. However, early intervention—EI, for short—may not look the same in every state. If you’re new to EI or relocating to Virginia from another state, here’s a brief overview of EI in Virginia.

 

We Focus on Teaching You How to Help Your Child

The Infant & Toddler Connection of Virginia believes that you—the parent or caregiver—are the expert when it comes to your child. You are also the best person to provide consistent learning opportunities for your son or daughter.

To support you in your role as expert, Virginia has adopted coaching as the preferred way to provide early intervention. Coaching means that the professionals who work with you and your child first demonstrate techniques and strategies for supporting your child’s development and then give you opportunities to practice these same techniques and skills. By teaching parents and caregivers how to help their children, the benefits of early intervention continue long after a visit has ended.

 

We Focus on Function

Do you need for your child to stack blocks? Or do you need for your child to communicate what she or he wants? Do you need for your child to stand on one foot? Or do you need for your child to help pull on his shoes or button her coat?

Functional outcomes refer to skills and behaviors that are meaningful to your child and family in the context of everyday living. In other words: What matters to you?

 

We Focus on Child Outcomes

Early intervention supports and services are designed to help your child learn and grow in three (3) specific outcome areas. Simply stated, we want your child to:

  • Develop positive social-emotional skills (including social relationships). How does your child get along with other children? How does your child relate to you and to other adults? Positive social-emotional skills are important to a child’s overall development and well-being.
  • Acquire and use knowledge and skills (including early language/ communication and early literacy). How does your child learn and think? How does he solve problems? How does she use language?  The skills your infant or toddler develops and uses early in life provide the foundation for future learning and growth.
  • Use appropriate behaviors to meet her or his needs. How does your child participate in feeding and dressing? How does your child move from one place to another? Does your child follow directions about safety? Your child’s use of appropriate behaviors is necessary for getting his or her needs met.

Your family’s Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) will identify how your child is currently doing in each of these child outcome areas. Knowing this is key to helping the IFSP team identify goals for your child and family and the services needed to achieve those goals. To help the team—which includes you as the child’s parent or caregiver—decide how your child is currently functioning in each area, Virginia uses data collected during the assessment for service planning (ASP) along with a tool developed just for this purpose, the Decision Tree. The Decision Tree provides a way for families and professionals to measure the effectiveness of early intervention in a way that is uniform from locality to locality, team to team.

 

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