Early Intervention Colorado
“All children have within them the potential to be great kids. It’s our job to create a great world where this potential can flourish.” – Stanley Greenspan, MD – Great Kids 2007 – www.icdl.com
Early Intervention Colorado is a State system of services and supports for families who have infants or toddlers, from birth to age three, with disabilities or developmental delays. Locally, the Early Intervention Colorado Coordinator for Fremont, Chaffee, and Custer counties is Jody Berg. Her office is located at SPIN on the North Side, 517 North Diamond in Canon City (719-275-1950).
Jody’s job is to inform parents and early childhood providers about the full range of services and supports that eligible children and their families are entitled to receive through Early Intervention Colorado (Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). This means that Jody meets with families who have concerns about their child’s development or behavior. She helps families assess their needs and works with them to design a plan of action (eicolorado.org), so that the child and his/her entire family receive the interventions, therapies, services and supports that allows each child to develop to his/her full potential. It is especially important to utilize the early childhood years, as gains made during these precious years last a lifetime – waiting until school age to begin interventions means the developmental advantages of the early childhood years are lost.
Early Childhood Special Education
Early Childhood Special Education exists in order to provide services and supports to children (3-5) with disabilities and delays, and to their families. We hope to identify these children during the early childhood years, because developmentally these are the most important years. Gains made during this critical window of opportunity last a lifetime. Some children’s disabilities and delays are identified at birth. In these cases, hospital staff at St. Thomas More or other area hospitals connect families to Early Intervention Colorado so that family supports and therapeutic interventions can begin immediately.
Early Intervention Colorado is available to children under the age of three years. The Coordinator for the Fremont, Custer and Chaffee areas is located in Canon City. Public schools or BOCES are responsible for children ages three to five years. Some children’s disabilities and delays are not visible at birth, but only become apparent as the child develops or are the result of illness or injury. For parents with a first child, it may be difficult to know for certain whether their child’s development is on schedule or is a bit extraordinary. It is always wise for parents to attend well child checkups and discuss their child’s development with their child’s health care provider. Examples of such concerns might include delays in speech, crawling or walking, problems in eating, and behavioral issues such as tantrums, excessive fears, or withdrawing from people. Help is available for kids and parents in any of these situations.
Our community also believes that all children should be screened for development, vision and hearing. Our motto is “do your child a favor”. Parents can contact Project ECHO at 719-276-6176 to schedule a free screening of their child’s development, vision and hearing for children living in Fremont and Custer Counties. Starpoint provides Early Intervention services for children in Chaffee County.
Early Intervention focuses on supporting families with eligible babies and toddlers who may have a delay or disability. If you have questions about your child’s development you can contact your local Child Find: In Buena Vista – 719-395-7029 In Salida – 719-530-5375 We hope that families new to the area can be linked into our network as quickly as possible through community awareness about these important services which are free and available to the general public. The first step is the well child check up or the developmental screen. If the initial screening picks up a possible disability or delay, a more in depth assessment or evaluation is the next step. The evaluation is scheduled by Project ECHO staff, public school staff, or representatives. Based on the results of the evaluation, the next step is a meeting with the parents and the evaluators, which may consist of one or more early childhood special education teachers or therapists and other interested parties.
A Plan is the next step. Each Plan is completely unique to the child and his/her particular family. It is also Comprehensive, in that it will address not only the needs of the child, but also the needs of the entire family. This Plan is required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and is called an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP for kids 0-3) or an Individualized Education Plan (IEP for kids 3-5). Services and Supports written in the Plan may include:
- Enrollment at in early childhood education or community preschool at no charge to parents
- Customized special education services such as: speech/language, motor, or educational experiences provided individually, in small groups, or in classroom settings
- Consultation with the day care or preschool classroom teacher
- A Home-based enrichment program
- Family support services
- FIRST STEPS, Parents As Teachers home visits
- Referral to the Behavioral Health Team
- Other options developed as needed
Which Community Preschools Participate?
- SPIN Preschool
- Fremont County Head Start
- Kinder Haus Child Care Center
- New Child Montessori
- Giving Tree
- Rocky Mountain Children’s Discovery
- Chaffee County Head Start
How do I know if my child might need special help in preschool?
- You may have concerns about your child’s speech, language, behavior, movement, learning, vision or hearing
- Friends or other family members may be worried
- Your doctor may refer your child
- Your child may be referred from a Project ECHO screening
What steps do I take to determine if my child needs special help in preschool? Step 1 – Project ECHO screening or referral Step 2 – Developmental evaluation Step 3 – Planning meeting Step 4 – Choice of community preschool and other services What is a Developmental Evaluation?
- Parents meet with early childhood professionals and offer information about their child’s development
- Early childhood professionals will look at how your child talks, moves, uses materials and interacts.
- The assessments are completed in a playful format.
- They take about two hours so that the evaluators get to know you and your child.
- A snack is included.
- The assessments will identify things the child can do well, as well as areas of concern.
- They take place at ACCESS.
- The participating professionals can also review other evaluations or tests provided by parents.