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Early Intervention Training Program Newsletter, Summer 2018
News and Updates
Families as Decision Makers in Early Intervention

Early Intervention services are built upon a framework of family-centered practices. The key principles of EI reflect the need for family decision-making throughout the EI process (ECTA, 2008). The Family Practices of the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) Recommended Practices state “Family practices refer to ongoing activities that (1) promote the active participation of families in decision-making related to their child (e.g., assessment, planning, intervention)” (DEC, 2014, p.10). As such, we want and need families to be active participants in the EI process so that early intervention supports are aligned directly with individual family priorities.  But, how do we support families to be active decision makers in the process when early intervention may be completely new to them?

First and foremost, all decision-making in EI should reflect family preferences, priorities and cultural beliefs, according to the key principles (ECTA, 2008). Parents need and want information, and it is their right to have the necessary information to make informed decisions related to their child. So, how can we, as service coordinators and providers support families as decision makers?

  • By setting the stage for the family to be equal team members from the first contact
    • Consider how you orient the family to their role on the EI team as well as other team member’s roles
    • By encouraging and making the space in phone calls or meetings for families to share information, ask questions, and offer their perspective
    • Ensure information shared with families is complete and easily understood. Avoid providing only partial information to families.
    • Establish rapport and build relationships prior to and throughout decision-making processes. Help parents feel comfortable participating in conversations and decision-making.
  • By communicating openly, honestly, respectfully, and fully with family members
    • Use person-first language, use the caregiver’s preferred name, and attend to family preferred communication styles.
    • Avoid using jargon or technical terms, when possible, and when they are used, ensure they are fully explained.
    • Monitor body language families use, pause the conversation as needed, and check for understanding, questions, or family input.
  • By encouraging families to make informed choices when implementing services
    • Provide expertise in your discipline, share information with families on child development and interventions or strategies to meet individual needs.
    • Have purposeful discussions on the services available to support the family and child’s individual needs.
    • Give the family time to process, discuss, and reflect on information provided during your time together and when making decisions regarding services.
    • Discuss with families a range of options for routines-based activities and demonstrate a variety of ways to implement strategies.
    • Ask families for feedback and reflections on what worked or didn’t work since the last time you were together.
    • Provide support, encouragement, and information for families to feel confident and competent in guiding service decisions for their child.

Families will have different expectations, willingness, and time to participate in decision-making regarding their child’s EI services; professionals need to be flexible in order to meet the needs of diverse families. Remember, family culture can influence communication styles and preferences. EI professionals facilitate joint-decision making when families and professionals are discussing family rights, discussing strengths, worries, and outcomes, or when making decisions on services for the family. 

For more information on supporting families as decision makers during EI services, check out

 TIMPS logo
New Trainings on The Test of Infant Motor Performance (TIMP)

EITP is offering a new 2-day, intermediate level training designed specifically for physical therapists (PTs) and occupational therapists (OTs) working with infants under 5 months of age and their families in Illinois Early Intervention.  The training focuses on the Test of Infant Motor Performance (TIMP), which is a test of functional motor behavior in infants from 34 weeks postconceptual age through 4 months post-term.  

The training includes information covering the test psychometrics, the research associated with the development of the TIMP, clinical application through practice with the TIMP scoring protocol, video examples, and hands-on practice with baby dolls.  

Registration fee ($120) includes training materials:  TIMP manual, age wheel, sample scoring sheets, and percentile rank sheets.

EITP is an approved sponsor of CE's towards IDPR Licensures (OT, PT) and this training is worth 9 EI contact hours in Assessment.

The training will be offered at 2 locations:  

*Monday, July 23, 2018, and Tuesday, July 31, 2018, in Skokie

*Tuesday, August 21, 2018, and Monday, August 27, 2018, in Naperville

*Attendance is required for both dates at selected location and dates/locations cannot be interchanged.

 Save the Date for 1000 Days Symposium
Save the Date: The First 1,000 Days Symposium

Sponsored by the Family Resiliency Center, The First 1,000 Days Symposium will be held September 4-5, 2018 at the I-Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign, Illinois. Registration opens in July.

The first 1,000 days of life - the time spanning roughly between conception and a child’s second birthday - is a unique period of opportunity when the foundations of optimum health, growth, and neurodevelopment across the lifespan are established.  Environmental exposures, including nutrition, stress, and environmental toxins, can interact with the child’s genetics during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life to have lifelong implications on their physical, mental and emotional health. Learn more about basic and applied transdisciplinary research being conducted at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign that is addressing this critical window of development using a cells-to-society framework.

More information can be found at 

 YEC Monograph #17
New YEC Monograph on Maltreatment and Toxic Stress (Edited by EITP Collaborators)

The Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children (DEC) recently published its 17th monograph in the Young Exceptional Children Monograph Series concentrating on maltreatment, trauma, poverty, and toxic stress.  

In recent years, the need to consider and appropriately support children and families who have experienced maltreatment, trauma, poverty, and toxic stress has gained necessary attention. In 2016, DEC published its first position statement on maltreatment and young children with disabilities and their families. Monograph #17 provides leadership and guidance to the EI/ECSE field by creating a deeper understanding of maltreatment and illustrating evidence-based strategies to support these populations.

Two former EITP doctoral students, Dr. Catherine Corr and Dr. Deserai Miller, are the co-editors of Young Exceptional Children Monograph No. 17: Maltreatment and Toxic Stress.

Resources You Can Use
New EITP Resource Page on "Family-Centered Practices"

EITP has created a new resource page around "Family-Centered Practices" in early intervention, which focuses on the following 3 themes encompassed within the DEC Recommended Practices:

  1. Family-centered practices: Practices that treat families with dignity and respect; are individualized, flexible, and responsive to each family’s unique circumstances; provide family members complete and unbiased information to make informed decisions; and involve family members in acting on choices to strengthen child, parent, and family functioning.
  2. Family capacity-building practices: Practices that include the participatory opportunities and experiences afforded to families to strengthen existing parenting knowledge and skills and promote the development of new parenting abilities that enhance parenting self-efficacy beliefs and practices.
  3. Family and professional collaboration: Practices that build relationships between families and professionals who work together to achieve mutually agreed upon outcomes and goals that promote family competencies and support the development of the child. 

Please visit this new page at

 Video: Families Front and Center: The Power of Coaching
Video: Families Front and Center: The Power of Coaching

The video Families Front and Center: The Power of Coaching from the Center for Development and Disability with the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (UNM HSC CDD) from the FIT Video Library showcases a developmental vision specialist as she describes how she used video recordings of her early intervention home visits as a foundation for self-reflection and refinement of her practice.

Related videos on coaching include the following:

Physical Developmental Delay: What to Look for

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has updated its Physical Development Delay online interactive tool to help address concerns from caregivers and parents of children aged birth - 5 years about their child's physical development. The tool provides information about milestones in physical development, such as rolling over, sitting up, or walking, and is now available in Spanish.

Factors That Support and Hinder Including Infants with Disabilities in Child Care

The Early Childhood Education Journal recently published an article based on the dissertation of former EITP doctoral student, Jenna M. Weglarz-Ward, and written in collaboration with Rosa Milagros Santos and Jennifer Timmer.  The article, Factors That Support and Hinder Including Infants with Disabilities in Child Care, is available for free from Springer Nature SharedIt initiative.

Abstract from article

"Children with disabilities take part in child care programs across the country every day. However, existing research is lacking on how infants and toddlers with disabilities are supported in these inclusion efforts, particularly from the perspectives of child care and early intervention (EI) providers. In this article, we describe the results of a statewide survey of U.S. child care and EI providers on their beliefs and experiences in inclusion and perceived factors that support and hinder the inclusion of very young children with disabilities in child care settings. Our study results indicate that although providers value inclusion and identify many benefits for children, families, and professionals, several barriers exist to effectively implement meaningful inclusion. Despite advances in legislation, policy, and recommended practices, little has changed in the inclusion of infants and toddlers; therefore, recommendations for policy, practice, and research are included. Recommendations include increased training and mentoring for providers and formal inclusion of child care providers in inclusion supported by state policy and continued research".

Free YEC Journal Article
Using Eco-Mapping to Understand Family Strengths and Resources
 YEC DEC logo

In each Newsletter, EITP highlights a free article focused on Early Intervention that will be available for PDF download from the Young Exceptional Children journal!  

Currently, we are featuring "Using Eco-Mapping to Understand Family Strengths and Resources" by Katherine M. McCormick, Sarintha Stricklin, Theresa M. Nowak, and Beth Rous from Young Exceptional Children, v11, no.2, March 2008.  This link will be open until September 1, 2018.

"As professionals and families work together to identify and celebrate the strengths and resources unique to each family, new and innovative ways to describe and discuss family characteristics are needed. The eco-map, borrowed from social science disciplines, is one method used to describe family strengths and resources. The eco-map was developed in 1975 by sociologist Hartman (1978) to help social workers in public child welfare practice better understand the needs of the families with whom they worked. An eco-map is a graphic representation or visualization of the family and linkages to the larger social system, including informal (e.g., friends, extended family members) and formal (e.g., early care and education providers, early intervention providers) supports. It illustrates how the family exists within the context of its relationships with other individuals and institutions with which the family has contact. Utilizing an ecological model, the eco-map provides a visual display of any group of interconnections and relationships, providing a graphic image of the family system within the larger social matrix. This article provides a brief overview of the eco-map process, describes the key steps in completing eco-maps with families, and shares implications for early intervention practice. The eco-mapping process is illustrated through the use of a family vignette. (Contains 3 figures and 1 table.)" Abstract from ERIC

Service Coordinator Corner

The “Service Coordination Corner” is spotlights the important work that service coordinators are doing within the Illinois EI System.

Resources and Updates

The role of the Service Coordinator is critical in EI, and as such, there are many initiatives underway in Illinois and nationally.  Here are some exciting updates and resources you can use in your work!

National Updates:

  • National Service Coordinator Training Workgroup (NSCTW) held a webinar on March 28, 2018 titled "The Role of the Service Coordinator in Building Relationships in Early Intervention".  Please visit the workgroup resource page for a recording and additional resources related to building relationships with families: 
    • As a follow up to the March webinar, the workgroup hosted a webinar follow-up discussion on 6/1/18 for webinar participants who identified themselves as an SC trainer or someone who prepares/supports SCs. 53 registered from 10 states, but approximately 21 logged on from 6 states (at least 6 were from the national SC workgroup/EITP).  The chat was positive and most people want to stay connected.  The discussion from the national SC workgroup members kept things moving with a lot of resources shared from different states and voices.
    • Save the Date: Next webinar will be on October 17, 2018, from 12-1:15 pm. Registration is not open yet and more info about the topic will be coming soon.

Illinois-specific Updates:

  • IL SC CoP – Next meeting is on July 11, 2018, and will discuss documentation.

  • CFC SC Trainer Forum – Next meeting is on August 16, 2018, and the topic may be around "strategies for communicating with families".  Please let Sarah Nichols know if you have any resources around this topic (i.e. strategies for communicating with families that are hard to reach, sharing sensitive information, protecting your own privacy when family members want to communicate by text, etc.)

  • IL SC Stakeholders group will be looking at action plan items to help empower and support service coordinators in Illinois.  Maria Kastanis and Sarah Nichols are going to recruit members from IL SC CoP and CFC SC Trainer Forum.  If you are interested in joining, please contact Sarah using her email (listed below).
Join the Conversation!

The Illinois Service Coordination Community of Practice (IL SC CoP) and CFC SC Trainer Forum are two relatively new initiatives in Illinois. Each group meets quarterly and discussions are driven by group members.  If you want to join or learn more information about either of these groups, please contact Sarah Nichols at

SSIP Updates
State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP) Fourth Quarter Update

We are pleased to be wrapping up our second year of the implementation phase and to have the opportunity to describe some of the positive changes occurring.

We are excited to report the following results:

  • Many professional development (PD) opportunities around the Child Outcomes Summary (COS) process have now been completed in our three pilot areas (Aurora, East St. Louis, and Williamson County).
  • Focused conversations have helped service coordinators and providers increase their COS knowledge and discuss strategies for addressing the implementation challenges they are encountering.
  • The Resource Packets to support the COS process are being used to support early interventionists’ practice.
  • Initial fidelity evaluations indicate that early intervention teams are using the COS process outlined in policy and procedures developed for the pilots.
  • Plans have been completed for the initial local leadership training on family engagement. We will begin more formally addressing our second coherent improvement strategy in June!
  • We will also be sharing our SSIP work with other states during two presentations at the national Improving Data, Improving Outcomes Conference in Arlington, Virginia in August.

Year 2 focused on improving the COS process and developing the supports related to the second improvement strategy- using evidence-based intervention practices to enhance family engagement. In addition, we have continued to engage stakeholders in our planning and sought technical assistance (TA) from our national partners. To engage more partners, our TA supports provided two webinars for early interventionists. The first webinar was offered on March 27, 2018 and addressed “But I Know I Had an Impact! Accounting for all aspects of intervention when evaluating outcomes”. The second webinar was on May 17, 2018 and addressed "Coping with Challenging Situations Encountered in Service Delivery".

We welcome everyone’s input so if you have any comments, please email them to

Upcoming Events
Upcoming Events 

To view upcoming events sponsored by EITP, please visit

To view online trainings sponsored by EITP, please visit

To view upcoming events sponsored by other entities (non-EITP events) that are eligible for EI credit, please visit the Non-EITP Events Calendar.