Volume 30, Issue 1 (Spring 2017)

young girl

Teaming For Outcomes

In the early intervention (EI) program, the family, service coordinator, and EI professionals are a team. When an EI team gathers, the conversation often involves talking about outcomes. In early intervention, we use the word outcomes to describe what family members want to see happen for their child and their family as a result of their participation in the EI program. These outcomes are listed in the individual family service plan (IFSP). This plan identifies the family’s concerns and priorities for meeting their child’s needs.

Making progress toward outcomes is the result of the many small and big steps the family and EI service providers take as they work together. EI team members need to help each other understand the family’s routine so they can choose and use strategies that work well for the family. Let’s consider an example of how an EI team can work together to plan strategies for a toddler to reach an IFSP outcome related to communication.

Lucy is 24 months old. She receives EI services for a delay in language development. When Lucy’s family and their EI team meet to write her IFSP, they decide one overall outcome they want to work toward is encouraging Lucy to give a verbal response when she normally would point or nod. The team talks about times during everyday routines that Lucy’s family could encourage her to use words and build her vocabulary.

Lucy’s family loves to play outside. The team decides to have a speech therapy session at the playground to develop strategies to encourage Lucy to use her words. The speech therapist and her family practice ways to encourage Lucy to respond with words and increase Lucy’s vocabulary. Now, when Lucy gets to the bottom of the slide, her dad says, “That was fun! The slide is slippery and fast. Do you want to slide again?” He waits, and then if Lucy responds by shrieking with delight, he says, “You are excited! Tell me ‘yes’ if you want to slide again.” “Ess!” says Lucy.

Every park playtime becomes an opportunity to work toward the outcome of improving Lucy’s language skills. By encouraging Lucy to use more words and continuing to use descriptive words himself, Lucy’s dad helps her take more and more steps toward their outcome of using her words to communicate.

Focusing on daily routines is how EI teams meet IFSP outcomes. This EI Clearinghouse newsletter contains resources you can use to support language development at home, understand who is on your EI team, and work together toward outcomes. With every little step, an EI team gets closer to achieving IFSP outcomes as well as building a strong foundation for future growth.

What Is the SSIP? What Parents in Early Intervention Might Want to Know

The State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) is a multiyear plan that focuses on improving outcomes for children and families receiving early intervention services. This is important to you because we want you to know we are working hard to improve the services you and other families receive.

This is an Office of Special Education Programs initiative to help Congress and the people of the United States decide whether the money spent on early intervention is producing good results for children with disabilities and developmental delays and their families.

Each phase of the plan to improve services has a specific focus. The three phases are:

  • Phase I – This phase was completed in April 2015.
  • Phase II – This phase was completed in April 2016.
  • Phase III – Implementation and Evaluation. The report on the first year of implementation is due April 3, 2017. (This phase will last several years.)

A group of parents, providers, CFC staff, state workers, and community partners joined the Bureau of Early Intervention from the very beginning of the SSIP process to “dream big!”

We decided to focus on how well children are acquiring and using new knowledge and skills in early intervention. To do that, we developed strategies on improving children’s progress on outcomes and expanding families’ ability to support their child’s development.

Even as we were “dreaming big,” we knew that we had to “start small,” so we selected three pilot areas in Williamson County, East St. Louis, and Aurora and decided that we needed leadership teams in each area. These leadership teams include CFC staff, providers, and parents as well as state personnel. Their job is to support local early intervention teams (like yours) to improve child outcomes and to increase the families’ ability to promote their child’s development—even after leaving the early intervention program.

The leadership teams began meeting in November, and we are excited to see their progress! For more information about the SSIP, visit https://illinois.edu/blog/view/6039/378910.

Claudia L. Fabián
Illinois Department of Human Services

Family Outcomes Survey

Each year, Illinois is required to find out how effective the early intervention program has been in helping families achieve outcomes. Early intervention is a family-centered system. Both children and families are considered to receive benefits from early intervention services. We are striving to report whether families are getting what is intended from EI services.

The Family Outcomes Survey helps measure the state’s progress toward this goal. Family outcomes are the changes experienced by the family as a result of early intervention services and supports. The Family Outcomes Survey examines things such as understanding your child’s strengths, abilities, and special needs and helping your child develop and learn.

This year the Family Outcomes Survey will be mailed to every family that leaves the early intervention program. When you receive the survey in the mail, please complete the questions and mail it back in the self-addressed, postage prepaid envelop. We greatly appreciate your input because it can help improve the Illinois Early Intervention Program.

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Early Intervention Clearinghouse is funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services Bureau of Early Intervention. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Illinois Department of Human Services, Bureau of Early Intervention, or the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Early Intervention Clearinghouse (ISSN 1058-8396) is published quarterly.