Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Different States Early Intervention

Attention all parents involved in Early Intervention(EI): Help me out a minute, pretty please?

I've talked to a few of you lately about a variety of issues related to EI (AKA, Birth to 3, Babies Can't Wait, First Steps, etc.) and I'm finding that alot of the states are really different in how they handle things. I had no idea that there was such variety in the services and the processes.

So as a point of awareness for those who surf the web for this stuff, and just as a way to share with our fellow parents how things are where we respectively live (Maybe there will be something you didn't know about your own state!), can you take a minute a summarize a few points in a comment here? For the friends out there who have discussed this with me recently, can you still comment here so that we have the best grouping of info? Thanks!!!! If you've done a post on your blog on this, feel free to put the link in a comment too!

1. Some of you have mentioned looking for a preschool for your child who is about to turn 3. How does your city or district or region handle this? Do they assign a school based on your home location or do you have choices? For you that have kids in the 3-6 range, how often do they attend school and how have you felt about it?

We chose to live in the area of our city that we do in order to take part in our current situation. Some districts in our county have their own Early Childhood building that includes the preschoolers transitioning from First Steps. But we chose to be in the district that utilizes a special organization/facility that has 60/40 classes and in-house therapists. The whole place is designed for those with special needs but there are peer models there as well. (That's not the official description, but that's my simple summary.)This is where Braska goes to her pre-preschool currently, and she'll continue at that location, just going more often after she turns 3. We've been very pleased with our therapists from that organization that we've had already through First Steps and Braska really loves going to "school" on Monday mornings. So there's no "choice" for us to make, and I'm curious how that works elsewhere. It seems like several of you bloggers with kiddos this age are looking at preschools, and that's not part of our process, I'd like to know how it works.

2. Does your EI service provide equipment for you? Like walkers, specialized feeding things (Z-vibe, jigglers), or Sure Steps or orthotics? I've heard some even do things like swingsets!

Ours has a system (IL did too) that basically provides what is reasonable and needed when it is written up by the therapist and/or the service coordinator. I don't know the details, but I know it works. We got Braska's Sure Steps through this, and it covered it all. When we were in IL, they offered some of the feeding things, but I was too impatient for the paperwork and waiting for approval, so I just bought what we needed.

3. How does your EI work as far as payment from parents? Is it on a sliding scale based on income? Or is it a free service to everyone regardless of income?

In both MO and IL, it is a sliding scale. In MO, the fees are lower than in IL. I think the highest amount is $100/mo.

4. For those of you with 2-year-olds, have you had opportunities to attend training or information sessions about how to prepare for the transition to an IEP? What are you doing to get ready for this transition?

I've been blessed to know Adrienne, the leader of our local DS group and a friend I knew online before I moved here. I call her the IEP Queen. She is a wealth of information. She's involved with MPACT which gives training sessions for in-depth info on what to expect and how to be the best team member you can be for your child's IEP team. Here's a link to some great resources if you're interested. I'm trying to learn all I can so that I don't just plain accept what's told as fact but can make sure we get what we need and what's best for Braska.

5. And finally, how often do you have therapy and what services does your child get currently?

Braska gets weekly PT, speech is every other week, and OT is every other week and happens while she is at school on Mondays. She also has a nutritionist who visits twice a month and works on feeding and makes sure we're getting her enough food/fluids by mouth or via the G-tube.

Thanks, friends!! I really appreciate your time, and I think it will be very helpful. I am contacted often with some of these questions, so this will be a great resource!

8 comments:

  1. I live in a town where there is only 1 public school Preschool. You have to go to private schools for other programs & pay alot! They divide the program in 1/2 for the "typical" and other for the Spec Ed so the kids can have the one on one service AT THE PARENTS DISCRETION!! At the PPT meeting, that is when I am able to voice what services I want for Dillon, including feeding therapy...I am blessed because he can have the best of both worlds meaning that he can be included with everything.
    They do offer classes for parents to prepare for these transitions, however, I was able to get alot of support through my BT3 therapists & the CT Down Syndrome Congress Friends..they are my biggest supporters since I reach out to them so much.
    As far as pay scale, as a single parent..I've never had to pay, but I recall that in the beginning when I was married, I didn't have to pay more thatn $20.00 per month. It was all on income.

    Yes, BT3 provided for all of Dillon's equipment & the health insurance paid for it all...we live in CT. We had the walker for a little while & just had to give it back when he was done with it.

    Dillon was getting SO MUCH BT3 for a while & I decided to cut down & will probably cut down some more again...however, Dillon's different than Braska. He get's OT 3x's per month, Speech & PT both 1x each per week & Spec Ed 3x's per month. The Spec Ed I'm thinkin of cutting down to 1x per month..keep in mind, he's an only child;) I take him to playgroups & having him play with other kids I think is alot more beneficial...

    Well, I hope this helped you at all???
    Good luck to you~!

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  2. We are in East Central Florida... And I'm sorry in advance as this will be long!

    1- For my daughter that just turned 3 in January, our preschool wasn't just 'handed' to us because our neighborhood school doesn't have a prek. So we had 2 choices of schools in our district that have openings. One was down the road 5 minutes, a 50/50 classroom and is ONLY a prek. The other is at an elem. school 30 min away and is 90/10. We chose the 50/50 class! By our choice she goes 2 mornings/week. She continues to go to our private church program 2 mornings/week in a typical classroom setting.

    I also have a 6 yr old adopted into our home already at the prek age. She had ONE option of prek and it was the school 30 min away but due to her needs, was a sped only class. We didn't agree to that placement and she has a teacher that comes to the house for her prek. She comes 2 hours/week (2 1 hr settings) which is the "max allowed" time.

    I also have a 2 1/2 yr old in the transition right now (yes, all of these kids have Ds!) and he will be set to go to the closest school to our neighborhood that has prek and elementary services along with both of the girls in the fall. This will be a 'new' school for all of them but is the closest school with an appropriate setting for all 3 kids with Ds (and my typical son who will also be in kindy).

    2- EI provided a backward walker on loan for Brianna when she needed it and we got a honeybear straw cup from them and a nuk brush. With 2 kids through EI in the past 3 1/2 years... that's it! We bought Sure Steps for one child during that time but nothing was covered by EI.

    3- We didn't pay ANYTHING for EI. For any of the kids. And they didn't ever ask for any proof of finances to request payment.

    4- No training sessions here, but I guess they may have been offered which I could have overlooked since I'm a certified teacher and have been on the other side of a few IEPs ;)

    5- my 6 yr old JUST started getting services through the school system aside from the teacher. This was because of the adoption/health putting things off. TODAY she started 30 min PT/OT and "language" (doesn't qualify for ST) each week as a drop-in service. I bring her to the school (the one she'll go to next year) for the therapies. Next year language will be 60 min and I think the other 2 stay at 30... but I'd have to re-read her IEP to remember! (she also has 90 min of PT and 30 min ST each week with our private insurance based therapists)

    My 3 yr old gets 30 min PT and 30 min language each week at her prek classroom on the mornings she attends.

    My 2 1/2 yr old has home based EI services and gets 30 min PT weekly... which we pushed back to every 2 weeks... and now every month... because he doesn't COOPERATE! LOL And he has 30 min ST each week as well.

    WHEW did ya make it through?? :)

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  3. We live in South Carolina, and Evan will be three in June.

    1. We are in the process right now of doing all of this. I know there are six county preschools in our district, but I'm not exactly sure how you choose one, or if they choose it for you. I know that they are supposed to be a mix between kids with special needs and typical children, but from what I hear, the typical children are few and far between. We are also very fortunate to have a nonprofit developmental preschool here. It's a charter school for our school district, but it is also funded by the United Way. Evan goes there three days a week. If you're under 3, you pay on a sliding scale. Once you turn 3, it's free, since it's a county public preschool, essentially. Our goal for Evan once he turns 3 is that he will stay at this school twice a week and go to a private Montessori school three days a week. We're not too interested in the other county preschools at this time.

    2. EI does not provide equipment. We do have Medicaid, though, that will pay for most things like that. Evan's shoe inserts were paid for by Medicaid. They will also pay for therapy, which they do for Evan. Some kids in EI, though, don't qualify for Medicaid so EI picks up the therapy tab.

    3. We don't pay for anything. EI has no cost. And Medicaid pays all medical expenses. We have a primary insurance family plan, and whatever that doesn't pay for Evan, Medicaid picks up. It even covers copays.

    4. We have attended two meetings so far about transitioning to IEP/public school: one assessment where we answered questions about Evan and they generated a report on his development, and another one that Evan had to attend that I still can't figure out the purpose for. Next is a hearing test, then the arena assessment where different therapists and special ed teachers evaluate him. After that is the IEP.

    5. Evan gets a bi-weekly visit (used to be weekly but we cut back) from an early interventionist, and weekly PT through our EI system. He qualifies for weekly OT and ST too, but he gets therapy at school so we don't do all of that. At school he has speech twice a week, OT twice a week, and PT once a week.

    I should not have written an entire blog post in your comments, sorry! I got carried away.

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  4. Done! I wrote my own post here.

    I can't believe how complicated this stuff is.

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  5. I answered this on my blog for you. http://sunflowermom.blogspot.com/2009/04/early-ed-where-i-live.html

    Good idea, RK!

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  6. 1. We are in Orange County, NY, and all recommendations for preschool services are made by the evaluating agency. The family chooses a placement based on availability at the school or facility and then the school board approves it. We aren't in the CPSE system yet, so I don't know what Lucy's recommendations for frequency will look like, but I am expecting a five day program, either half or full day.

    2. Yes, our EI does provide equipment. Some of it is just given to us by the therapist (i.e. Z-vibe, nuk brush, tongue retraction kit, etc) but some of it is based on a written justification by the therapist. Our current example of this is Lucy's PT is recommending the use of SMO orthotics. We are in the process of obtaining them.

    3. NY is free to parents, though the county will recoup some payment from private health insurance.

    4. The state offers regional trainings for service providers that parents are invited to attend and actually given a stipend for. They are not widely advertises, however, and I only know this because I was an on-going service coordinator. One of the topics covered in Transition. All other parent education comes during the IFSP meeting prior to the referral to CPSE.

    5. Lucy currently receives PT 2x/week; OT 1x/week; SLP 2x/week; Special Instruction 1x/week; Play Group once a week and Social Work 1x/month.

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  7. I'm also in NY, so ditto most of what Courtney posted, LOL. We actually live the next county over from Courtney.

    Regarding PreK, Kayla got a 5 day, full day program, run by Easter Seals, paid by the county. She started out in a self-contained (special ed) class, but moved to the integrated class a year later. It's the only special needs preschool in the county, however, if you wanted to send your child to a private preschool (at your expense) or even keep your child home, the county would still provide related services (OT, PT, Speech) from ages 3 - 5.

    While Kayla was in EI she received 1x a week OT, 1x a week PT, 1x a week special instruction and 2x a week speech.

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  8. I can't really answer for the state of MD since we just moved here and didn't experience the ECI part; but I can give some answers for what we experienced in NM.

    1. From what I can remember when it was time to send Kayla to preschool she did have a "home school" that was on base since we lived on base - if she went there that is where she would receive services. I always had the choice of sending her to a private (ie Christian) preschool in town, but services weren't guaranteed from what I was told...meaning the therapits weren't required/obligated to go to that school to provide therapy; I would have to bring her to the public school for therapies. I didn't look in to it a whole lot because I was satisfied w/sending her to the DD preschool on base.

    How was her schooling from ages 3-6: She was in a DD preschool that also had a "peer mentor program" It was mostly kids w/special needs (Developmental delay) in the preschool and then there were a small # of typical-developing kids accepted to go to the school (although those parents had to pay a fee). I don't remember what the ratio was - I think it was 4 typical for every 16 kids or something. She went to preschool at age 3 and it was 4 mornings a week from 8-11. At age 4 she went to afternoon preschool from 12-3. At age 5 she entered Kindergarten - 5 days a week full days.

    2. Kayla didn't really seem to need any special equipment from EI like orthotics or anything. sometimes her PT would buy something and give it to us, I think that came out of her own pocket. The OT would leave things at our house to use like beads or something small like that, not big equipment.

    3. I guess we were really fortunate in NM as there weren't any payments associated w/receiving ECI services; it was all free. There was one time during the 3 yrs we were asked if we could volunteer to pay (I think it was $10 a month) - they asked all the parents this because there was a serious budget crunch and there wasn't much money for services. However they did stress we did NOT have to pay anything and we wouldn't lose services if declined. I honestly thought all states were free.

    4. We did go to one training type thing for transitioning. Actually it wasn't really training, it was just some transitional/informational thing that several parents attended and then we signed up for our IEP appts. I don't remember a whole lot of what they talked about though LOL

    Great post!

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