The Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities (DCBDD) voted April 20 in favor of implementing a change in the Early Intervention Program. The change is to bring the board into compliance with the State of Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities.
According to the DCBDD website, the Early Intervention Program identifies and serves children from birth to the age of three with developmental disabilities.
The state mandated a change from individual providers to a core team program in 2015, but DCBDD had been putting the change off because of its uncertainty of the program.
After running a pilot program for a year, Kristine Hodge, superintendent, said, DCBDD isn’t switching to the program because it’s mandated by the state but because they also believe in the program.
A number of parents of special needs children attended the meeting and were upset with the board’s decision for what they interpreted as giving into the state mandate.
Peggy Kroon Van Diest , Early Intervention director, said the new model empowers parents by giving their child more opportunities to practice the skills learned in therapy. She said therapist are still providing the therapy, but teaching the parents too.
“In this approach what we’re looking at is it’s more effective to teach the parent those skills,” Kroon Van Diest said. “The therapist is saying here is the skills we want to help you with. What do you do every day? What’s fun for your family? How do we help you practice those skills as you play on the playground?”
Kroon Van Diest said parents are not doing therapy with their child but incorporating the skills learned into family activities. She said the child is now able to apply the therapy to the natural environment.
Kroon Van Diest said the team looks at the greatest need of the child but the primary therapist also reports back to the team that works behind the scenes about any other needs of the child that need addressed.
“They’re looking developmentally at all areas,” Kroon Van Diest said. “Even though there’s one concern, we’re checking making sure the children are moving where they should be in all areas.”
Kroon Van Diest said the advantage to having a core team is if there are other areas of concerns, other therapists may attend the appointment. She said the advantage is it doesn’t tie up a family’s time with multiple appoints in a given week.
“You have your primary service provider coming in and they can bring in other service providers,” Kroon Van Diest said. “These professionals see each other weekly. They’re talking all the time and they can put a family on the agenda any time.”
Kroon Van Diest said families could be reviewed every week because of the greater chance of communication among members of the team.
Hodge said if the “child’s focus of development or needs changes,” the provider also can change.
“At any point in time more than one therapist can join in the visit and make that therapy happen,” Hodge said. “What we have heard is it’s a consultative model and that isn’t true.”
Hodge said if a family is in the core team model and additional therapy is needed the board has agreed to it.
“It really is an enhancement of services,” Hodge said. “Maybe the child isn’t meeting outcomes, maybe there is a very serious need for physical therapy that we’re struggling to meet, they can access an individual budget, as they do now, to receive additional services.”
Hodge said those in the core team pilot are not using additional services because the needs are being met by the team.
“What we have found is when we can surround them like that it is beneficial,” Hodge said. “They feel supported. With the traditional model there is a little more disconnect.”
Hodge said additional core teams will be developed to serve Delaware County. She said the county will be divided into geographic areas with one team serving each area.
“When you do this geographically it’s easier for everybody,” Hodge said. “We can better serve that way. We will have equal access to people throughout the county no matter where you live to this core team of professionals.”
Hodge said in the current model DCBDD doesn’t have that. She said many people with developmental disabilities have gone unseen.
Kroon Van Diest said the reason for areas being missed many of the contracted therapist don’t want to go to the other parts of the county.
“Contracted providers tend to live in the southern part of the county,” Kroon Van Diest said. “They don’t want to travel to the northern part of the county.”
Kroon Van Diest said team members will be required to service the team’s geographical area.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.