What is Early Intervention?
Early intervention supports the growth, development, and learning of children birth to three years of age that are eligible for services. In Washington State, Early Intervention is called Early Support for Infants and Toddlers, or ESIT. Through parent partnerships, and specialty therapy and support, babies learn basic and brand-new skills, such as:
- physical (reaching, rolling, crawling, and walking);
- cognitive (thinking, learning, solving problems);
- communication (talking, listening, understanding);
- social/emotional (playing, feeling secure and happy); and
- self-help (eating, dressing).
In Whatcom County, the Opportunity Council and Whatcom Center for Early Learning are the two providers of early intervention services. Both agencies have Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech-Language Pathologists, Specialized Instructors, and Family Resource Coordinators on staff that provide therapy support for children receiving Early Intervention services.
Does Your Child Need Early Intervention?
A child is eligible for Early Intervention if they have a 25% delay in one more areas of development, including communication, social emotion, physical, vision, adaptive. Eligible children can receive Early Intervention services from birth through age 3. Although a child is often referred to ESIT by their pediatrician, a parent or caregiver can also ask for an evaluation by calling the SEAS line at 360.715.7485. Evaluations and services are low of no cost.
Who is eligible:
For some children, from birth: Sometimes it is known from the moment a child is born that Early Intervention services will be essential in helping the child grow and develop.
For others, because of delays: Some children need additional support in a specific area of development, may have experienced an environmental stressors, or are having trouble reaching certain milestones. For these children, Early Intervention can provide specific and specialized supports to target the child and family needs.
If you have any questions about eligibility or your child’s development, please don’t hesitate to call SEAS at 360.715.7485. You know your child the best and often, a parent’s intuition is correct. The old saying, to “wait and see,” can miss critical developmental opportunities that happen early. Understanding and supporting your child’s developmental milestones will help to ensure they get the support they need when they need it.
Is Early Intervention Right for me?
Early Intervention support is as unique as your child is. Each family will get a personalized plan—called an Individualized Family Service Plan. This plan is developed, in partnership with families, and it specifies the support and services that would be helpful to your child. Therapy can be in the home or other settings. ESIT providers are following recommended health and safety guidelines and are offering telehealth visits. Telehealth is a great option for many families and has been shown to be effective in improving outcomes.
Through Early Intervention:
- You and your child will have a team of support.
- You and your team will work on developmental goals and play skills.
- You and your child will receive specialized instruction or different therapies from an occupational therapist, speech therapist, physical therapist, or others.
- You and your child will have support when transitioning to preschool as they are about to turn three
- You and your child will receive support accessing other local resources.
What does Early Intervention include?
Early Intervention uses a coaching model. Each family has a Primary Service Provider (PSP) that helps identify the goals that everyone is working towards. These goals are related to the family’s daily routines and life. They can be challenges found at mealtime, bath time, during social activities, or areas of development that need extra support through play, encouragement, and specific techniques. The coach supports the child and families to develop and learn skills.
The coach is a partner with the family and can support the family in a variety of ways. Coaches can use techniques such as modeling for the parent, taking turns trying the approach, verbal coaching or observation, and reflection. The specific method is based on family preferences and needs.
In addition, each family has a Family Resource Coordinator (FRC). FRCs help families to access various community supports and services. They also support the child’s transition into school district services (developmental preschool or specific supports) as appropriate.
There is no waitlist and Early Intervention is free to low cost. The services are targeted for your child’s specific needs. Every family gets specialized support from skilled staff. If you have any questions, call for an evaluation, and see if Early Intervention is right for you.
Call SEAS now to find out more about ESIT in Whatcom County: 360.715.7485