Frequently Asked Questions About Resuming In-Person Early Intervention (EI) During Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan
The Bureau of Early Intervention has worked with stakeholders to determine how to best resume in-person (face-to-face) services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on the best available information, in-person services can be resumed, in a limited fashion, while we are in Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan. For more information, see the Early Intervention (EI) Plan for Resuming In-Person (Face-to-Face) in Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan.
During Phase 4, in-person meetings and services may resume depending on your comfort level as well as the comfort levels of your providers and service coordinator. Below, we provide some questions and answers about resuming in-person EI services.
How do we determine whether to resume in-person EI services?
You will have a conversation with your service coordinator and providers to determine whether to resume in-person services.
What should I consider when deciding whether to resume in-person EI services?
It is up to you to determine whether you feel comfortable resuming in-person EI services; it also depends on the comfort level of your provider and/or service coordinator. Some things you may want to consider are:
• If you have been receiving live video visits and/or phone consultations and they have been effective, you may continue those visits and/or consultations instead of resuming in-person EI services.
• Service coordinators and providers must limit their sustained, in-person interactions to 10 families. Priority should be given to families who have been unable to access EI services. Thus, 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. For example, you may consider whether you have family members who may be more vulnerable to risk, such as the elderly or those with certain health conditions. You may also consider whether your child’s health is compromised. 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 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. Other team members will participate via phone or live video visit. If the 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 live video visit or having a new provider.
Can I alternate between in-person EI services, live video visits, and phone consultations?
Yes, your team may use a variety of ways to support you and your family. During Phase 4, it is recommended that you have only one EI professional 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 and do not have ongoing in-person visits with more than one EI provider. Also, remember that each EI professional can only have in-person contact with 10 families. If you are interested in receiving co-treatment (i.e., receiving services from two providers at the same time), you may ask that one provider be in-person while the other provider attends via a live video visit.
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 professional, 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 to safely resume in-person EI visits. Providers will maintain social distancing practices. As with prior to COVID-19, providers will continue to 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 my family needs additional EI services?
Early intervention includes many services such as assistive technology, audiology, developmental therapy, family training and support, health consultation, medical services (for diagnostic and evaluation purposes), nursing, nutrition, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychological/counseling services, service coordination, social work, speech language pathology, transportation, and vision. If you feel that your family needs have changed and you may need additional services, contact your service coordinator. Your service coordinator can also help you access additional information or supports (e.g. community resources, parent liaison) available within the CFC.
What if I have questions or concerns about early intervention?
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 may have several questions about EI. For example, you may wonder “What do I do if live video visits 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Family Matters (serves all other counties in Illinois), phone: (866) 436-7842
You may also contact STARNET for resources, workshops, and trainings.
Also, see the webinar Answering Family Questions About Early Intervention & Transition During Covid-19.