EI referrals are up, but families are receiving the same quality supports.
Over the past four years, LCBDD has seen steady growth. One driving factor in that increase has been the significant jump in referrals for Early Childhood services.
Locally, young children who are eligible receive Early Intervention (EI) until their third birthday and can continue to receive Early Childhood services until they turn 6. These evidence-based services are offered at no cost to families in their homes and communities where children learn best. Since 2016, the number of EI referrals has grown 33 percent and the number of eligible children who complete the process to receive those services has increased 10 percent.
For some families, their journey continues after Early Intervention with support from a developmental specialist until their child is 6. Their numbers have also increased 34 percent over the past three years.
Although there are some aspects of this increase that have yet to be explained, population growth, a greater awareness of resources and an increase in the number of children who are exposed to drugs or are in foster care likely have contributed, said Caley Norton, LCBDD’s director of Early Childhood.
As caseloads continue to grow, LCBDD has worked hard to maintain its high standards of services, hiring new service coordinators and an additional
developmental specialist to meet the demand.
“We are committed to providing outstanding services to young children because we know how important early interventions are,” said Jason Umstot, LCBDD
“Our Early Childhood team is always busy but they really go above and beyond to support each child and their entire family.”
Starting in 2017, LCBDD has been assisting with the pilot of Project TREES, formally known as Tools and Resources for Engaging, Empowering and Supporting Families.
The project has inspired the Early Childhood team to focus on increasing parent participation to help them feel more connected to the process of supporting their child.
Parents are presented with a Save the Date card, listing the dates and times of Early Childhood team meetings. They have the option to attend a
meeting in person, call in or video chat with the team about their child.
This is especially helpful for families new to EI, as they help choose their primary service provider, Caley said.
After a year, parent participation has grown 18 percent.
In 2020, the team is focused on utilizing videos during team meetings to enhance their ability to coach parents and caregivers.
While parents are encouraged to attend in person or participate via phone, there are times when adding a video can really help the team understand a child’s development, because they can see it.
Using video allows the team to offer immediate suggestions, rather than caregivers having to wait until the next visit, Caley said.
“Our Early Childhood team is dedicated to using all our resources to make each family’s experience as effective and
seamless as possible,” Jason said. “We want parents to be able to focus on their biggest priority — their child.”
For more information about Early Childhood services in Licking County, go to lcountydd.org/early-childhood/.