shortcut_roadA handout to accompany  CPIR’s webinar on Improving Early Learning Outcomes

CPIR is honored to house the training curriculum explaining the 2011 federal regulations for Part C of IDEA. Building the Legacy for Our Youngest Children with Disabilities is all about early intervention, with a heavy focus on what’s legally required. That makes for tough reading sometimes.

Fortunately, the curriculum includes lots and lots of resources to connect you with the amazing amount of expertise about early intervention that is available. This handout offers a sampling. Come on, let’s take the shortcut past the heavy content and get right to those resources!

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Statistics and Tidbits for Starters

336,895 | Number of infants and toddlers receiving early intervention services in 2011

All  States and eligible territories are currently participating in Part C program

 Annual Part C funding to each State is based upon census figures of the number of children, birth through 2, in the general population

$419.7 million | The federal appropriations for Part C for the year 2013

12% of total cost | The federal funds for Part C (the $419.7 million) are estimated at roughly 12% of the total cost of operating the EI system

13 different federal sources + 14 State sources + 11 local sources | Funding sources that States report using to pay for early intervention (2012)

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The 5 Areas of Child Development

There are 5 areas of childhood development examined in each evaluation of an infant or toddler suspected of having a developmental delay or disability. Here’s a quick synopsis of those 5 developmental areas.

Cognitive development

Cognitive development refers to children’s ability to learn and solve problems, which typically grows dramatically between birth and 3 years old as children begin to make sense of the world around them. Developmental milestones of cognitive development include:

  • paying attention to faces and recognizing familiar people (2 months);
  • showing curiosity and trying to get to objects that are out of reach (6 months);
  • knowing what ordinary things are for (e.g., spoon, toothbrush, comb) and being able to follow one-step commands (such as “sit down”) (18 months).

Physical development

Physical development includes a child’s gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and sensory and perceptual abilities.

Fine motor skills include the child’s ability to use small muscles, specifically in the hands and fingers, to pick up small objects, hold a spoon, turn pages in a book, or use a crayon to draw.

Gross motor skills refer to the child’s ability to use large muscles. Large muscle development will help a baby learn to sit up without support, crawl or roll from one place to another, and pull up to a stand by holding onto furniture.

Sensory and perceptual abilities include vision and hearing.

Interestingly, motor skills development in children generally progresses from head to toe, with babies usually gaining control of their body parts in the following order:

  • head and neck at about 2 months of age;
  •  arms and hands, with grasping at about 3 months;
  • trunk, with sitting well by about 8 months;
  • legs and feet, with most children walking by 14 or 15 months.

Communication development

At issue in this developmental area is the child’s ability to both understand and use language to communicate with people and express his or her own emotions. Typical milestone behaviors at different ages include:

  • babbling (4 months);
  • responding to sounds by making sounds and responding to own name (6 months);
  • copying actions that others make, such as shaking the head to indicate “no” or waving “bye-bye” (9 months), and
  • using a few simple words (18 months).

By age 3, a child may know as many as 900 words.

Social or emotional development

Zero to Three gives an excellent summary of the social-emotional domain, as follows:

Making friends. Showing anger in a healthy way. Figuring out conflicts peacefully. Taking care of someone who has been hurt. Waiting patiently. Following rules. Enjoying the company of others. All of these qualities, and more, describe the arc of healthy social-emotional development. Like any skill, young children develop these abilities in small steps over time.

Examples of typical milestones of social-emotional development include:

  • smiling spontaneously, especially at people (4 months);
  • clinging to familiar adults and perhaps being afraid of strangers (9 months);
  • having temper tantrums (18 months); and
  • playing mainly beside other children, but beginning to include other children, such as in chase games (2 years).

Adaptive development

The ability to adapt to changing circumstances and take care of oneself is a vital skill in life, to be sure. For babies and toddlers, adaptive development includes learning the self-help skills involved in daily living—to eat independently (with fingers at first, then with a spoon), to get dressed, use the toilet, and see to basic hygiene and grooming. Not surprisingly, as children acquire more adaptive skills, they become more independent.

Need more info about the 5 developmental areas?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Developmental Milestones
English |
Spanish |

Our Very Own Parent Center Hub
Developmental Milestones
English |
Spanish |

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Writing High-Quality IFSP Outcomes

Every child receiving early intervention services under Part C of IDEA must have an individualized family service plan—the famous IFSP. The IFSP is a written plan with 2 general purposes:

  • To set reasonable outcomes for the infant or toddler with a disability
  • To state the services the early intervention program will provide for the infant or toddler and family

There are numerous resources available to guide families and staff through the writing of functional IFSP outcomes. Here are 2.

Enhancing Recognition of High-Quality, Functional IFSP Outcomes and IEP Goals: A Training Activity

Tips and Techniques for Developing Participation-Based IFSP Outcome Statements

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Supporting Early Language Learning

CELL, the Center for Early Literacy Learning, is an excellent place to find out how to enrich children’s environments and activities so that they support early language learning. CELL offers free parent guides as well as practitioner guides, and a range of tools that we all can use in helping infants and toddlers acquire language skills. Many guides are available in Spanish as well. For instance:

Infant Practice Guides for Parents show families how to use everyday home and community activities to encourage infants to listen, talk, and learn the building blocks for early literacy.
English |
Spanish |

Toddler Practice Guides for Parents focus on books and crayons, symbols and letters, storytelling and listening, scribbling and drawing, rhymes and sound awareness, and more.
English |
Spanish |

ECTA Center | Also check out what the ECTA Center’s webpage on early literacy and connect with multiple links to great resources.

Early Literacy

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Supporting Early “Math” Learning

Some States have adopted the Part C extension option, which allows children to continue to receive early intervention services after their 3rd birthday (the time children usually age out of Part C). If so, the child’s IFSP must include an educational component that promotes school readiness and incorporates pre-literacy, language, and numeracy skills.

At its most basic, numeracy is the ability to understand and work with numbers. Little children work on their numeracy skills without even knowing it—playing with shape sorters, counting the steps as they go up or down, comparing the sizes of objects around them (bigger? smaller?). For children over three in early intervention, numeracy needs to be included as a component of the IFSP. Working on numeracy skills becomes more purposeful but, hopefully, no less natural or fun.

Here are several numeracy resources you can share with families or investigate on your own.

Baby & Toddler Math Milestones
PBS Parents

Understanding Numbers and Counting Skills in Preschoolers
Get Ready to Read! National Center for Learning Disabilities

Supporting Early Math Learning for Infants and Toddlers
Head Start and Early Head Start

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Transition from Early Intervention

At least 90 days before a child in early intervention turns three years old, his or her IFSP must include a transition plan. (Three is the age at which eligibility for early intervention services typically ends. Most children then exit the Part C system and move on to other appropriate programs, environments, or services—including, for many, special education and related services made available under Part B of IDEA.)

Purpose | The purpose of the transition plan is to ensure the child’s (and family’s) smooth transition from Part C services to his or her next program or setting.

How many children? | To put this IFSP component into a real-world perspective, 349,370 toddlers exited Part C in 2011! That is a lot of toddlers, isn’t it?

Strategies that help | What types of activities might prepare a child for transition from Part C to another program or setting? The National Early Childhood Transition Center (NECTC) has conducted considerable research to identify factors and strategies that promote successful transitions for young children with disabilities and their families. So has Project CONNECT.  Here’s a sampling of their findings.

Start planning early. There’s a lot to understand and explore about what makes a transition smooth (or not). When families have time and opportunity to talk about and plan for their child’s transition, they become more effective advocates for their child in the new environment.

Visiting possible new programs is a good way for families and staff to get a “feel” for each program, which will help them decide which program would be a good match for the child. Using Project CONNECT’s Observation Guide can help  families and service providers identify specific ways in which a new classroom can be modified to support the child’s engagement and adaptation. It’s available in English and in Spanish.

Communication between the sending and receiving programs is extremely beneficial. Staff who’ve worked with the child can share information with the new program, and receiving staff can talk about important aspects of the new setting (e.g., daily routines, learning expectations, skills that the child will need).

Transition planning needs to include individualized activities that help the child learn skills and competencies that will be useful in the new setting.

Resources that will really help! | Check these out, for sure.

Transition (an online training module)
English |
Spanish |

Transition Tips: Toolkit of Practices and Strategies
National Early Childhood Transition Center (NECTC)

Transition from Part C to Preschool (A rich web resource page!)
ECTA Center

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