The Bureau of Early Intervention (EI) has worked with stakeholders to determine how to best provide services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on the best available information, in-person services can occur in a limited fashion. Specifically, in-person services may occur if you and your EI Providers/Service Coordinator are comfortable. Below, we provide some questions and answers about EI services.
How do I decide whether to receive in-person EI services?
You will have a conversation with your Service Coordinator and EI Providers to determine whether to receive in-person services. Your Service Coordinator will document your preferences.
- Live Video Visits, Phone Consultations, and In-Person Early Intervention (EI) Services: What’s Right for My Family?
What should I consider when deciding whether to receive in-person EI services?
It is up to you to determine whether you feel comfortable receiving in-person EI services; it also depends on the comfort level of your EI provider. Some things you may want to consider are:
- If you have been receiving Live Video Visits (LVV) and/or phone consultations and they have been effective, you may continue those visits and/or consultations instead of switching to in-person EI services.
- Service Coordinators and EI Providers must limit their in-person interactions to 20 families. Priority should be given to families based on need, risk factors, and inability to meet outcomes via LVV and/or phone consultations. As a result, there is limited availability from providers and service coordinators to provide in-person EI services.
- Consider the best ways to minimize risk for your family. Providers may, or may not, have been vaccinated. Also, consider social distancing efforts for in-person EI services (see Having Safe In-Person Early Intervention Visits).
What is the process for requesting in-person EI services and meetings?
If you request in-person EI services, the Service Coordinator and your EI Provider(s) will work with you to develop a plan to meet your needs and minimize risk. You can request an in-person meeting (e.g.an IFSP or transition meeting) as long as there is only one other team member who is physically with you at one time. Other team members will participate via phone or LVV. If the EI Provider(s) and Service Coordinator are unable to meet in-person, your Service Coordinator will discuss other options for the meeting. Such options include conducting the meeting over the phone or through a LVV or having a new provider.
Can I alternate between in-person EI services, live video visits (LVV), and phone consultations?
Yes, your team may use a variety of ways to support your family. Current guidance is that you have only one EI Provider visit your family in-person. Specifically, to lessen risk for your family and the EI Provider, it is recommended that you only have one EI Provider in your home at a time. Also remember that starting April 1st, each EI Provider can only have in-person contact with 20 families; this caseload includes families/children the EI Provider sees privately as well as via in-person evaluations. If your team has agreed that co-treatment is appropriate for your family (i.e. receiving services from two EI providers at the same time), you may ask that one EI Provider be in-person while the other EI Provider attends via a LVV. If your family utilizes an interpreter, the interpreter must participate via phone or LVV (when available).
Can EI services be provided in a childcare setting?
EI services can be provided in a childcare setting when it is safe and based on agreement by the family, EI Provider, and childcare provider. Also, if possible, live video visits and phone consultations may be provided in childcare settings.
What are the safety precautions for in-person EI services?
Several precautions need to occur for safe in-person EI visits. These precautions are to be used even if individuals have been vaccinated. EI Providers will maintain social distancing practices. As with prior to COVID-19, EI Providers will use coaching practices with families. Specifically:
- Individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19 cannot resume in-person services until they have been fever-free for at least 72 hours without fever-reducing medicine, have had improvements in their symptoms, and 10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared.
- The provider should conduct a screening for risk before the EI visit.
- Visits may be held outside or in a community setting (e.g., on a porch, in the yard, at a park).
- Masks are not required for children under age 2. Masks are only required, as tolerated, for children older than 2. Unless medically or physically unable, masks are required for family members and EI professionals. If you refuse a mask, the service coordinator and/or EI provider may choose not to provide in-person services.
- High-touch areas should be sanitized before and after the visit.
- The EI professional will change their clothes or a protective covering between visits.
- Interactions during the EI visit should be limited to the child receiving EI and one caregiver.
- All providers, service coordinators, and families should conduct effective hand-washing before, during (as needed), and after visits.
- EI professionals should limit the materials (e.g., toys) they bring into the home. Materials should be sanitized in between family visits.
Whose responsibility is it to provide me with a mask?
It is your responsibility to find and wear a mask during the visit. See the state’s Guidance on the Use of Masks by the General Public for resources on how to make your own mask or to access a mask.
What if I have questions or concerns about the EI Program?
As the parent of a child receiving services, you have rights. Your rights are in The Illinois Early Intervention Program: A Guide for Families and explained more in this booklet about infant/toddler and family rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in the state’s early intervention system. You can always contact your Service Coordinator for additional assistance.
You may have several questions about the EI Program. The EI Clearinghouse website is a good place to find the most recent early intervention information for families. Questions you have may include, “What do I do if LVVs have not been offered to me?” or “Because of COVID-19, what do I do if my child did not receive EI services for an extended period and I am interested in compensatory services?” Answers to these questions are individualized based on your family’s needs. For answers to these questions, you may contact your Service Coordinator and, if appropriate, revise your IFSP.
If your concern has not been resolved, you may consider sharing your concern with the CFC manager and/or parent liaison. If the concern cannot be resolved at that level, you may consider filing a complaint and/or contacting the Parent Training and Information Center (see Family Resource Center on Disabilities and Family Matters below) for assistance. Notably, the Parent Training and Information Center may provide resources to help you file a complaint.
You may also have questions about the transition to school services. For example, you may wonder “What do I do if my transition meeting has not been scheduled?” At no cost, you can talk to other parents about your rights at either of the Parent Training and Information Centers listed below:
- Family Resource Center on Disabilities (serves McHenry, Lake, Kane, DuPage, Cook, Kendall, Will, and Grundy counties), phone: (312) 939-3513, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Family Matters (serves all other counties in Illinois), phone: (866) 436-7842