Early Childhood Intervention
Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) provides services to families that have infants or toddlers with qualifying disabilities or developmental delays. Most ECI services are provided at home, but services can be provided in other settings. An important outcome of ECI is that families receiving services feel they know how to support their children’s development both at home and in their communities. Community settings can include child care, early education programs, library activities, or simply playing in the neighborhood park or playground.
ECI services are intended to support the child and family, along with community providers, so the child can fully participate in the community experience. What this looks like will be different for every child because every child has different needs. The plan to participate should be addressed on a regular basis and individualized to meet the needs of the child and the expectations of the family.
Most ECI families want their children to participate in community settings. Why? Because learning new skills in other settings help their children in many ways, such as the following:
learn skills that are useful for everyday life,
interact with other children who model the desired skills,
practice new skills,
experience a sense of belonging,
develop social skills,
be motivated to try new things, and
gain confidence in their abilities.
Parents may ask that some ECI services be provided in the child care or early education class. ECI services in this setting are focused on coordinating learning activities with the teacher to ensure the ECI child is fully participating in class activities. This may mean adapting the activity, changing the physical environment to meet the child’s needs, or supporting peer relationships in the classroom.
ECI may also work with the program provider to understand how to structure tasks in smaller developmental steps to show the child’s learning. This allows parents and teachers to set realistic expectations for the child. As a result, they are better able to recognize and applaud the child’s accomplishments. The ECI provider’s role is not to replace communication between the family and the child care provider, but to offer strategies that support the child’s development both at home and in the child care setting.
Discuss with a family
Here are some suggestions or possible questions you may want to discuss with a family.
Identify experiences the family thinks will benefit their child. If they are not sure, ask if they are open to exploring ideas and share what you have observed.
Ask parents what activities their child likes. This will help you know which activities will be a good fit for the child.
Discuss together what strengths you both see in the child.
Think about some of the challenges that may come up. Share ideas you have about minimizing the challenges to participation. Ask what works at home.
What are parents’ goals and expectations for their child?
How do parents want communication to occur? What works best?