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Early Intervention Training Program Newsletter, Fall 2018
News and Updates
Engaging with ALL Families

One of the primary goals of early intervention is to build family competence and confidence in supporting their child’s development. Each of the families we support has unique needs, priorities, and ideas about how early intervention will impact their family. It is our responsibility to learn about each family and child as individuals and unique family systems in order to build a strong partnership with families.  In order to fully engage families in the partnership, families should feel and act as equal partners in their child’s early intervention services (An, Horn, & Cheatham, 2018). This can be challenging! 

When it comes to family engagement, there is a long continuum of what engagement looks like and there is no one right way to be engaged.  Engagement could be dependent on: comfort level, previous experiences, individual temperament, and may shift and change over time. Some parents/caregivers could be more likely to engage in shared conversations when they are with individual providers in their home as compared to during a team meeting. Other parents/caregivers might be more engaged through play with their child and open to suggestions to support their child’s development through everyday activities. Some may seem as if they prefer the role of observer rather than active participant in the visits.  Engaging caregivers/family members as full partners in early intervention is a key principle to service delivery and IS the key to realizing developmental growth and change in young children!  So, how can we engage all families?

The following are some tips for consideration:

-Identify a comfortable learning environment.

  • Understanding and using family preferences and strengths can support our interactions with families and promote family partnerships. Early interventionists can support the family in identifying the best place or times of the day to interact with their child or try some new strategies - this could be the child’s play space, bedroom, outside, or could be the family’s morning routine, mealtime, or bath time, for example. The space, activity, or time of day might change from day-to-day. When the family is comfortable and has been a partner in the process, they will likely be more engaged in sharing ideas, strategies, and problem solving.

-Relate to their direct and immediate needs.

  • Families/caregivers are often seeking support to overcome a barrier or challenge that they are facing now. Exploring the challenges by asking questions to focus attention on strategies that will have the most impact, and brainstorming and problem-solving together with the family/caregiver can help identify what will be the most helpful and beneficial for their child and family.

-Develop practical strategies and help apply them.

  • Develop an understanding of the family’s routines and activities and well as what they may have already tried; problem solve together with the family and develop ideas and strategies that are manageable and realistic in everyday life. Try it out together - Model and demonstrate how the strategies could be used and allow the parent/caregiver the opportunity to try it with you present.

-Provide opportunities for families/caregivers to be actively involved.

  • The Seven Key Principles of Early Intervention (ECTA, 2008)suggests “talking to the family about how children learn through play and practice in all their normally occurring activities.” When families seem uninterested or disconnected, try redirecting attention to the child by highlighting something positive, such as parent-child interactions or developmental progress. The key here is flexibility and willingness to adjust the plan – if it doesn’t seem to be working, try something different.

-Reinforce the positive and provide feedback.

  • Everyone needs encouragement and support from others, especially when trying new things! Remember to point out what the family is doing well and describe what you see them doing to support their child’s development. Even the smallest attempt or change in behavior deserves to be celebrated. Be specific, positive, and relate the success to other areas of daily life, this can provide the encouragement needed to continue to grow and try new strategies to support their child’s development.

ECTA has two checklists that can be helpful when reflecting on family engagement strategies:

Family Engagement Practices Checklist

Families Are Full Team Members Checklist

Engaging families as full, active partners in early intervention is critical to success! Remember,  there is no one right way to be engaged, so individualizing opportunities for engagement is key!


An, Z. G., Horn, E., & Cheatham, G. A. (2018). Coaching to build parent competency in addressing early challenging behaviors. Young Exceptional Children.  Retrieved from 

ECTA Center. (2008). The Seven Key Principles of Early Intervention. Retrieved from

PACER Center (No Date). Teaching adults: What every trainer needs to know about adult learning styles. Retrieved from

Resources You Can Use
Using the DEC Recommended Practices in Your Work

The publication of the Part C regulations in 2011 came with a charge for early interventionists to use “scientifically-based research” in their work with children and families. Using the DEC Recommended Practices helps ensure that interventionists are following this directive.

The Division for Early Childhood (DEC) Recommended Practices (RPs)were developed to help practitioners and families use the most effective strategies to improve learning outcomes and promote the development of young children, under the age of 5, who have or are at-risk for developmental delays or disabilities.

There are 66 DEC Recommended Practices that are organized into eight topic areas:
• Assessment
• Environment
• Family
• Instruction
• Interaction
• Leadership
• Teaming
• Transition

The RPs were updated in 2014 and both DEC and the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) have developed resources to promote their use, such as videos, performance checklists, and practice guides for practitioners

Although many of the products available will be useful to early interventionists, a recently developed tool helps direct interventionists to the most helpful practice guide for the intervention challenge they are addressing. You can find this selection tool at

Free YEC Journal Article
The ABCs of Challenging Behavior: Understanding Basic Concepts
 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 "The ABCs of Challenging Behavior: Understanding Basic Concepts" by Hedda Meadan, Shiri Ayvazo and Michaelene M. Ostrosky from Young Exceptional Children, v16, no.1, March 2014.  This link will be open until December 31, 2018.

"Many young children engage in challenging behaviors that could have short- and long-term negative effects for both the children and their families. Challenging behaviors refer to "any repeated pattern of behavior, or perception of behavior, that interferes with or is at risk of interfering with optimal learning or engagement in prosocial interactions with peers and adults" (Powell, Fixsen, Dunlap, Smith, & Fox, 2007, p. 83). If challenging behaviors are not addressed early with appropriate intervention and evidence-based practices, there is an increased likelihood that children will struggle with poor academic achievement, peer rejection, and mental health concerns in the future. Challenging behavior could also have negative effects on a person's family, peers, and the community at large (Dunlap et al., 2006; Powell et al., 2007). Heward (2005) posited that behavioral strategies are highly effective for teaching children new skills and modifying existing behaviors. Nevertheless, many parents and educators experience difficulties understanding and using these practices effectively with young children. One of the major obstacles facing parents and family members, as they attempt to address their child's challenging behavior, is confusion or unfamiliarity with the terminology and the technical jargon of behavioral interventions. Therefore, initial efforts should focus on helping family members understand the terminology used to assess and analyze challenging behavior, so they can collaborate with others to develop interventions that effectively address challenging behaviors. This article discusses basic behavioral concepts to provide family members and professionals with practical and essential knowledge about challenging behavior, the reasons it occurs, and the process by which adults can effectively select strategies to prevent or intervene on these behaviors. This information can help family members and professionals feel better prepared to take an active role when working with children who engage in challenging behaviors." 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. The following are some exciting updates and resources you can use in your work:

  • The next national service coordination webinar, “How Do You Do It? Juggling and Overcoming Service Coordination Challenges”, will be on October 17, 2018, at 12:00 PM central. Check out the National SC Training  Workgroup Webinar resource page for more information on past and future national SC webinars.
  • As a follow up to the National Service Coordination Leadership Institute, and the National SC Part C Service Coordination Survey that was administered prior to the National Service Coordination Leadership Institute in the fall of 2017, EITP has partnered with IDHS develop an Illinois Service Coordination Stakeholder Group. The objective of this Group is to identify action plan steps that will help empower, prepare, support and retain qualified service coordinators in Illinois.  This group will be meeting monthly beginning in September and activities may include the following:
    • Review the Illinois Service Coordinator Action plan which was drafted as a result of Illinois’ participation in the National Service Coordination Leadership Institute;
    • Identify goals, strategies and resources to help carry out the action plan;
    • Implement steps in accordance with the action plan;
    • Evaluate the action plan and make adaptations as needed;
    • Periodically report back to the National SC Institute Group; and
    • Seek guidance and support from the Early Childhood Personnel Center (ECPC) as needed.
Join the Conversation!

The Illinois Service Coordination Community of Practice (IL SC CoP) and CFC SC Trainer Forum continue to meet quarterly and discussions are driven by group members.  If you haven’t joined, or you want more information about either of these groups please contact Sarah Nichols at

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

We are pleased to be beginning our third year of the implementation phase and to have the opportunity to describe some of the positive changes occurring. With this new year, we are turning our attention to family engagement. Members of the leadership teams convened in Springfield to begin discussing how these strategies would be implemented. In July, we re-convened our large stakeholder group to think about our plan for evaluation and whether it would provide the information needed to make important decisions about next steps. In August, we shared our SSIP work with other states during a presentation at the national Improving Data, Improving Outcomes Conference in Arlington, Virginia.

Year 3 will focus on evaluating the fidelity of the COS process and developing the supports for our second improvement strategy- using evidence-based intervention practices to enhance family engagement. As with our earlier efforts, we will work to build leadership team members’ capacity to implement these practices and develop materials to support local teams’ use of these practices. With each of these steps, we will be evaluating their impact and determining what is needed in order to scale up these efforts. We have an exciting year ahead!

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

Research Participation Opportunity
 Click to download flyer
 Click to download flyer

Dr. Laura Hahn is conducting research in early development—cognition, language, and social skills—and physiology in children with Down syndrome.  She is seeking children between the ages of 12 and 18 months with Down syndrome and their mothers to participate in 2 or 3 in-person visits and distance visits. Participants will either be visited in their home, at our lab at the University of Illinois, or at a location near you at a time that is best for them (i.e. evenings, afternoons, weekends).

Participants will receive $20 for each in-person visit and $10 for each distance visit, as well as a children’s book and helping contribute to the greater understanding of early development in children with Down syndrome.

Please share the following information with a family who might be interested in participating: 

Dr. Laura Hahn, The Development in Neurogenetic Disorders Lab
Phone: 217-265-8043

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.