Overview of the Illinois Early Intervention Program
When your child has been identified with a hearing loss issue you will be contacted by multiple organizations to help guild you through this process. Below is an overview of these organizations and the work they do.
Your Early Intervention therapist is here to guide you with helpful strategies to build skills for developing listening, speech, and language. YOU are the expert on your child, the therapist is there for support.
CHILD AND FAMILY CONNECTIONS (CFC) serves as the regional partner for DHS and they have regional offices throughout Illinois. CFC offices are responsible for managing referrals to EI, determining eligibility for services, the development of the initial Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), referral to EI service providers, and transition to school based services at age three.
DCS’s have specialized backgrounds in the area of deafness and are uniquely situated to provide information specific to your child’s hearing, language, and communication needs.
When working with providers, it’s important to ask a variety of questions in order to find a provider who is qualified, who you feel comfortable with, and who can help you achieve your goals for your child.
Here are suggested questions to ask the provider:
- What is your background or degree?
- What training and experience do you have with hearing loss?
- What training and experience do you have with infants and toddlers?
- What is your communication philosophy?
- How do you feel about a family using more than one communication Adoption and therapies?
- How will you help my child?
- Why do you do this work?
- Can you help me find additional resources if needed?
- Can you explain the transition process out of earlyintervention?
Early Intervention ELIGIBILITY refers to meeting the criteria that is established in Illinois to qualify for services. Determination of eligibility for Early Intervention occurs once the audiological screening, evaluation and assessments have been completed and received by the CFC. Children with a diagnosed hearing loss are eligible for the early intervention services if they are experiencing developmental delays of at least 30% in one or more areas of development. However, a child is automatically eligible for the early intervention program if he/she has been diagnosed with
- a hearing level of 30 decibels (dB) or greater at any two of the following frequencies: 500, 1000, 2000, 4000 and 8000 Hertz (Hz), OR
- A hearing level of 35 dB or greater at any one of the following frequencies: 500, 1000 and 2000 (Hz) involving one or both ears.
INDIVIDUALIZED FAMILY SERVICE PLAN (IFSP) will be developed. The IFSP is both a process and a written document that considers your family’s identified priorities, concerns, resources and important outcomes for you and your family. The IFSP will identify the types of services you and your child will need to reach your outcomes. The IFSP is reviewed and updated every six months with the entire IFSP team. As your child grows and changes, your family may need different services. Although the IFSP is reviewed every 6 months, it can be reviewed and changed more often as needed.
- SERVICE PROVIDERSare qualified professionals with an IL Early Intervention Credential, who work closely with you and your family to ensure you receive the appropriate education, resources, and supports to assist you with reaching your identified IFSP outcomes. The most common services required for a child who is deaf or hard of hearing include:
- assistive technology (hearing aids, ear molds, cochlear implants, BAHA, etc),
- audiology (amplification fitting, follow-up, monitoring),
- aural rehabilitation (developmental therapist/hearing),
- service coordination
- speech therapy
- family support (interpreter, deaf mentor).
You and the IFSP team will discuss the service options which will best support you and your family in reaching your IFSP goals.
DEVELOPMENTAL THERAPIST – HEARING SPECIALIST (DTH) is a professional with extensive knowledge regarding hearing loss and has a degree in deaf education. A DTH provides services that are specific to your infant’s overall development as it is directly affected by the hearing loss. DTHs can help you through the maze of amplification options, communication and language options, educational choices, assistive technology, and social issues. DTHs can explain and support the language acquisition strategies for your child who is deaf or hard of hearing.
DEAF MENTORS are for families choosing ASL.
The mentors are adults who have a hearing loss, and consider themselves a part of the Deaf community. They will make regular visits to your home to interact with your child and to share their language, culture, and personal knowledge on deafness. Deaf mentors provide a communication model, as well as a connection to the Deaf community.
PARENT LIAISONS are parents of children with hearing loss who have experienced the Early Intervention System first-hand, and can help other parents who are going through the same process.
MORE EARLY INTERVENTION SERVICES
In addition to the services described above, Early Intervention also provides services in the areas of:
- physical development (movement),
- cognitive development (learning),
- communication development (interaction),
- social or emotional development (behavior),
- adaptive development (use of existing skills).
Your service coordinator will explain these services to you. After identifying your family’s priorities and concerns, you and the IFSP team will determine appropriate outcomes and strategies to help support you and your child’s growth towards those outcomes. Remember that you, the parent, are part of the team and an important voice.