A message from Benny Delgado, Bureau Chief of the Bureau of Early Intervention
As we rapidly approach the end of the year it can be full of much busyness and deadlines. Full of to-do-lists and the general hustle and bustle of this time of the year. Yet I find that it is critically important to take time to slow our minds down and reflect on year behind us. Reflection is a vital part of learning. Think about anything new you have learned. It took careful observation, practice, and reflection to move from not knowing to knowing. This practice of self-examination not only allows us to learn from our past experiences but also allows us to shape our future. So, join me for a moment to pause and reflect on our Journey in 2022.
- A big hallmark of 2022 was the implementation of Early Intervention Extended Services (EI/ES). This was no small feat and required a great deal of effort on the part of all of the staff at our Child and Family Connections Offices, the therapists and our local school districts. Yet because of that effort this year we were able to continue services for 2,284 children who historically would have experienced a gap in services as they transitioned from EI to Early Childhood. A mother shared with me how much this had meant to her this past year as she had a son who had recently been diagnosed with autism and had been struggling to find a place that would accept all kids not to mention someone who spoke their primary language of Spanish. Because of EI/ES her son was able to have continued support in EI and made an uninterrupted transition to early childhood services at her local school district, helping her minimize concerns of regression.
- We are bouncing back from the effects of the pandemic on our system. While the impact the pandemic has had on many of our early childhood systems is far and wide, we have learned a lot from the experience. In EI we were able to learn how Live Video Visits has enhanced our capacity to connect with and support families in a variety of ways. We have been able to garner the benefits of using new technological tools to help streamline processes such as getting consents from families through digital signature.
- Much work has been done from the Division of Early Childhood to give all of our early childhood programs a shared common Mission, Vision and Values that ground our work moving forward. Based on these, a strategic plan is being developed with common goals and objectives. Your input as stakeholders in the EI system have been and will continue to be an important part of that process to strengthening our early childhood system as a whole.
As we begin to look ahead into 2023. We look toward the implementation of new initiatives. In February of 2023 we will begin to have quarterly virtual townhall meetings with families of children in EI so they can share their experiences, ask questions, and voice their suggestions to improve EI. We also hope to continue to have a greater focus on working together to address workforce challenges being experienced by the field and equitable access to EI services for families. We have a lot of work ahead of us in 2023 and look forward to working with all of you to serve of families of IL EI. I wish you all a wonderful and healthy holiday season and a prosperous new year!