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May 31, 2018

What is Early Intervention and How Can It Help My Young Child?

Should my child be walking yet? When will he/she learn to hold a bottle and pick up food? Why do I see some babies in the community wearing helmets? Should my 18-month-old be starting to talk?

Many parents have these exact same questions and concerns! An early intervention Birth to Three Program can help. 

 

What is the Birth to Three Program/Early Intervention?

The Birth to Three Program, commonly known as "early intervention," is a federally mandated, county funded program for any child between 0-3 years old.

Depending on the needs of the child, the program services may include: physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech/feeding therapy and early childhood education.

Therapy takes place in a “natural environment,” such as the child’s home, daycare, a family member’s home, local park, library, or indoor play place. Our team of specialized therapists and early childhood education teachers use readily available toys to facilitate learning. Siblings are also invited to join in on the sessions. We want the child to think therapy is fun! 

The ultimate goal of the Birth to Three Program/Early Intervention is for children to easily transition to public or private schools systems, Head Start programs or other services ready to learn and engage with their peers.

 

What is the potential impact of Early Intervention services?

The first few years of life for a child are crucial. Early Intervention services have been shown to vastly improve physical, verbal, emotional and behavioral outcomes for children, especially as they get ready to enter school. These types of services provide the needed building blocks for learning later in life.

For example, Curative's program measures outcomes related to each child’s individual goal achievement in the following categories:

  • Social relationships, including getting along with other children and relating well to adults.
  • Use of knowledge and skills related to thinking, reasoning, problem solving, early literacy and math.
  • Taking actions to meet needs, such as feeding, dressing, self-care and following rules related to health and safety.

 

How does my child qualify for the program?

Children referred to the program must show one or more of the following:

  • Developmental delay of at least 25% in one area of development (gross or fine motor skills, language, cognition)
  • Physician diagnosed condition likely to cause developmental delay (ie Premature birth, Genetic disorders, Congenital Heart Defects, Flat Head Syndrome or Torticollis)
  • Atypical (unusual) development that adversely affects overall development of the child.

 

Important Facts About the Program

  • Children are treated using the Primary Coach Approach to Teaming (PCATT) model
    • Family and team members prioritize developmental concerns to help choose the most appropriate “primary provider”
    • The primary provider is the main source of communication between family and therapy team 
    • Family members should be actively involved in sessions in order to learn techniques to practice with the child at home and carry over until the next therapy session
    • Additional team members are available for consult or formal evaluation as needed 
  • Potential Team Members
    • Family Service Coordinator
    • Occupational therapist
    • Physical therapist
    • Speech-Language Pathologist
    • Early Childhood Education Teacher
  • What is an IFSP? 
    • The Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) helps guide therapy and educational needs for the child and family 
    • The IFSP is updated every 6 months to ensure goals and needs are continually being evaluated and updated
    • The plan includes all team members, goals and frequency of therapies
    • Goals are based on how to best improve the overall family routine or life at home

 

What Happens When My Child Turns Three-Years-Old?

  • Options for continued therapy after age three are provided through the school system or on an outpatient basis, which the child’s therapy team would help to coordinate
  • Many children actually reach their goals and milestones before age three and are then discharged from the program early, as appropriate

 

How Can Curative Help?

Curative Care, which was started in 1919 providing therapy services to children, is now one of the largest providers of early intervention therapy services as well as screenings/evaluations in Milwaukee County. We provide individualized therapy and early childhood education services to more than 2,500 children each year! We see the true potential in each and every child and never turn a family away because of inability to pay. We want every child to thrive while in our care and later in life. Learn more about Curative's Birth to Three Program here.

 

How Do I Get Started?

Any parent or caregiver can refer a child to the Birth to Three Program/Early Intervention through the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/birthto3/family/qualify.htm

Once enrolled in the program, an evaluation of the child may be performed to determine any needs and services required. 

Carly Senefeld, Physical Therapist

Carly Senefeld, PT, DPT, is a pediatric physical therapist at Curative Care working with children enrolled in Birth to Three Program and outpatient therapy. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Physiology and a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Marquette University. She specializes in working with babies and children ages 0-8 years old presenting with developmental delays, prematurity, genetic disorders, torticollis/plagiocephaly and Cerebral Palsy. Her favorite part is seeing the progress children can make and building relationships with children and their families.

 

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