Click here to see this online
Early Intervention Training Program Newsletter, Spring 2019
News and Updates
 Click to download PDF
 Click to download PDF
EITP Virtual Office Hours on 1st Tuesday of Every Month

For individuals new to the early intervention system, it is common for questions to arise when learning the ropes. EITP recognizes this, and we are excited to announce another level of support: EITP Virtual Office Hours!

On the first Tuesday of each month, from 3-4pm, new providers will have the opportunity to ask questions about our field and our work. EITP team members and partners will be available to answer your questions and provide clarification, guidance and support as you familiarize yourself with the EI program beyond the Systems Overview. You may call in every month or intermittently, as it suits you.

There is no fee for this service, and no credit hours will be awarded. This is open to providers in their first year. No question is too small! We are here for you!

To learn more (e.g. how to join, FAQs, pre-survey), please visit 

 Girl jumping
They Need to Move It, Move It

The Polar Vortex has come and gone, mittens have been lost and the sun is up a little longer each day. It is time to get little bodies outdoors and moving again!

Did you know that according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, many children under the age of 5 do not meet physical activity guidelines? Daily physical activity helps children develop strong bones, muscles and coordination skills and can produce lifelong health benefits. Yet many little ones are sedentary for the greater part of every hour and often times parents (mistakenly) believe that busy toddlers and preschoolers don’t need additional activity. However, the experts recommend that dedicated time for daily physical activity helps foster healthy habits for the whole family.

As Early Interventionists, we are in a unique position to educate our families about the importance of physical activity for young children. So just how much physical activity is recommended and how do we prevent our tater tots from becoming couch potatoes?

Baby (birth to 12 months)

Through movement, babies can and should explore when provided a safe, supervised and nurturing play environment to support their natural curiosity.

Support families with babies to be physically active throughout the day, every day.  This can be during daily routines and supervised floor play, including “tummy time” (as long as the baby is showing that he or she is enjoying the position), and through the following activities:

  • Encourage babies to reach, roll and move on the floor or after dressing and diaper changes while engaged with the caregiver.
  • Try carrying a baby in and out rather than carrying him in the car seat or wear the baby in a front or back carrier to help the baby gain motor control and sensory input.
  • Dance slowly with the baby in your arms or hold baby at your chest and do a few squats or gentle standing twists.
  • Hold the baby if you can while walking to get the mail.
  • Take a walk with the baby in a stroller or wagon to get some fresh air.

By approximately 3 months of age, an infant should play on their tummy for an hour, broken up into small doses throughout the day. Caregivers can carry the baby in a “football” hold or place them on their tummies across the adult’s lap or chest.

Toddler (12 to 36 months)

Toddlers should engage in at least 60 minutes and up to several hours of physical activity each day. At least 30 minutes (cumulative) should be structured physical activity (planned and intentionally directed by an adult) such as acting out a story, playing follow the leader or participating in movement and music activities. Unstructured play is self-selected free play where the child starts the activity by themselves and explore their space by climbing, running, or riding on "ride on" toys. The following tips and activities can be shared with families:

  • Allow lots of opportunities for motor play! Toddlers shouldn’t be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time except when they are sleeping, so don’t expect them to sit still!
  • Toddlers tend to play in bursts of vigorous activity, then play quietly and engage in high energy play again!
  • Provide a safe space in which to play and explore: remove obstacles and avoid sharp surfaces like table edges or shelving units or items that can topple down onto them. Encourage toddlers to navigate environmental obstacles such as stairs, woodchips or small hills with supervision and allow children to take appropriate risks in play.
  • Provide appropriate “equipment” to explore indoors or out:
    • Save empty diaper boxes or laundry baskets to climb in and out of or push a friend or toy across the floor or grass.
    • Find a variety of balls to toss, kick and catch. Roll up an old pair of socks or fill socks with dried beans and tie the end for bean bag games.
    • Make building materials with toy blocks, shoeboxes, wipe containers or cereal boxes to stack. Recycle the boxes when done with them.
    • Try a few yoga poses in the yard or at the park: Tree, Mountain, Down dog, Warrior or invent your own postures
    • Draw a balance beam or path on the sidewalk with chalk (or use painter’s tape or cut out a line from shelf liner to use indoors).
    • “Paint” the fence or wall using a clean paint roller dipped in water (the dollar store usually has paint brushes and rollers)
    • Make a big tub of homemade bubbles and dip slotted spoons, 6-pack rings, colanders and straws to blow bubbles. Be sure to empty the water out when finished and play with supervision to prevent accidents!
    • Go on a scavenger hunt or grab a bag and pick up litter on a walk. Walk siblings to school or to the bus stop.
    • Play “hockey” or mini-golf using an old cardboard wrapping paper tube and a ball Make an obstacle course to crawl, walk or climb over, under and through
    • Fill a clean squirt bottle with water and water the grass, plants or just enjoy splashing in the puddles. Have a water balloon fight! (pick up the pieces from the ground so no small children or animals choke) or toss wet sponges or bath puffs at targets
    • Make kazoos from toilet paper tubes, wax paper and a piece of tape or shakers from small empty spice jars with a few dried beans or teaspoon of rice and then have a parade.
    • Play Freeze Dance, Duck-Duck-Goose, Simon Says, Tag, Hopscotch, Red Light-Green Light…go old school and think about the games you played outside when you were little.
Need More Ideas?

Pinterest has lots of wonderful outdoor and indoor play themes if you run out of ideas! Another great resource for handouts to share with families is SHAPE (The Society of Health and Physical Educators) America Digital Download Libraryhas a variety of early childhood resources available to download and print (in English and Spanish). The infants and toddler activities downloads offer a variety of ideas and strategies using the space and materials found in the home to encourage physical activity. Each “Move, Play & Learn” handout includes the materials, setting, description of the activity and learning outcome for each play activity.

Additionally, the Illinois Early Clearinghouse has a newsletter devoted to movement: Let's Move (Volume 29, Issue 4) and a tipsheet: A Moving Child is a Learning Child.  The Illinois Early Learning Project also has several applicable tipsheets:

Both Illinois Early Clearinghouse and Illinois Early Learning Project provide a variety of high-quality resources and handouts (often at no cost) to support families in Illinois.

Resources You Can Use
Institute for Parents of Preschool Children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
 Image from UIC DSCC
 Image from UIC DSCC

Free one-week program provides support and information on communication options, language development, amplification, social-emotional development, and school programs.

The Institute is a one-week program for parents of children ages 5 and under who have a significant hearing loss. It takes place on the campus of the Illinois School for the Deaf in Jacksonville from June 9-14, 2019.

There is no cost for families to participate, and meals and housing are provided at no charge.

Participating parents attend daily lectures by experts in the field to learn about raising a child with hearing loss.  Lecture topics include child development, types of hearing loss, language development, communication choices, deaf culture and school programming. Other activities include meeting in small groups to discuss specific concerns and connecting with other caregivers.  Siblings under 12 are also welcome to attend.

For more information, click on the Institute brochure (Spanish version: click here)

An Interview with Kristen Schraml-Block
 ZTT Journal Cover

Kristen Schraml-Block is co-author of the recently published article "Respect, Reciprocity, and Responsiveness: Strengthening Family-Professional Partnerships in Early Intervention".  The article is available in Zero to Three journal, Volume 39, No. 2. To view the article, please see pages 5-10 via this link.

Article Abstract:

Early Interventionists interact and partner with a multitude of families, all with unique strengths, backgrounds and circumstances.  During partnerships with family members, professionals may encounter interactions and relationships that they perceive as challenging or imbalanced.  Skilled Dialogue is a framework which emphasizes the use of respectful, reciprocal and responsive interactions with families from diverse backgrounds (Barrera & Corso, 2002).  Early Intervention professionals may consider this framework and the supporting strategies to strengthen their partnerships with families.


Kristen was recently interviewed about this article and goes in-depth about the skilled dialogue framework and family-centered practices, such as reciprocity, responsiveness, and respect.

Click here to read the interview (pdf).

 YEC Journal cover
New YEC Journal Article on Bagless Approach in Early Intervention

The latest Young Exceptional Children journal (first published February 14, 2019 on OnlineFirst) has an article written by EITP collaborators Crystal S. Williams and Michaelene Ostrosky! The article is titled "What About MY TOYS? Common Questions About Using a Bagless Approach in Early Intervention" and is available for free download!

Free YEC Journal Article
Quality in Individualized Family service plans: Guidelines for Practitioners, programs, and families
 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 "Quality in Individualized Family service plans: Guidelines for Practitioners, programs, and families" by Serra Acar and Patricia M. Blasco from Young Exceptional Children, v19, no.2, June 2016.  This link will be open until June 30, 2019.

The following abstract is from ERIC: "The IFSP is both a document and process for developing, implementing, and evaluating the supports and services delivered to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families eligible under Part C of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA; 2004). Recently, researchers have defined IFSP quality based on five substantive components, namely: (1) functional assessment, (2) functional outcome writing, (3) linking functional outcomes to service decisions, (4) integrating service delivery, and (5) monitoring progress (Ridgley et al., 2011). Despite what is known about best practices in the IFSP, there is a continued need for supports (e.g., technical assistance) to enhance the quality in implementation. This article describes concerns or challenges around the IFSP components that (Early Intervention) EI practitioners and families have expressed. Guidance and recommendations for practitioners and families on quality IFSPs based on these five components of quality (Ridgley et al., 2011) are provided. Also provided are checklists that practitioners and families can use (see Appendices A and B, respectively) to guide the development of quality IFSPs in all aspects of the process and product." 

Service Coordinator Corner

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

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:

  • The Annual Child & Family Connections (CFC) Conferences sponsored by EITP will be held on May 1, 2019 in Palos Hills for the Northern CFCs and on May 10, 2019 in Effingham for the Southern CFCs. The conference theme is "Engaging Mind, Body and Spirit: CFCs Making a Difference". This is a chance for CFC personnel to be recognized for their work, to gain new knowledge and to network with peers from other areas of the state.
  • 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 visit the EITP service coordination resource page to learn more and contact Sarah Nichols, EITP PD Specialist, with questions:
  • Illinois Service Coordination Stakeholder Survey is coming soon! The IL SC Stakeholder's Group consists of service coordinators, program managers, IL Department of Human Services (IDHS) representatives and Early Intervention Training Program (EITP) staff and they are seeking to collect information regarding: 1) the identification of knowledge and skills necessary for ALL service coordinators, and 2) understanding the things service coordinators value as it pertains to their professional growth and job satisfaction.  Service coordinators, and those who support them within the IL SC Model, won’t want to miss out on this opportunity to provide input as we work to enhance and empower the service coordination profession here in Illinois and beyond!
  • Service Coordination Consultant Corner – EITP’s Assistant Director, Maria Kastanis, and Professional Development Specialist, Sarah Nichols, are writing a series of articles around service coordination for the Educational & Developmental Intervention Services “Keeping In Touch” (KIT) series which is distributed by the Part C Coordinator of the Comprehensive Professional Development System (CSPD) for the United States Army Department of Defense (DoD). Check out the first two articles in the series via the following links:
    • KIT January 2019 (PDF) includes some basic information on service coordination and a knowledge check
    • KIT February 2019 (PDF)includes information on service coordination models, tips to ensure families are connected and supported by both EI and non EI supports, and strategies for success to support service coordinators as they carry out the SC activities outlined by Part C of IDEA. Click here to visit an interactive document adapted from the February 2019 KIT where you can add your own comments and suggestions for strategies you use to carry out SC activities.  
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) Third Quarter Update

Our third year of the implementation phase is rapidly coming to a close and we continue to see positive changes occurring. Our primary focus is now on our family engagement improvement strategy. Leadership teams have been surveyed to understand their learning needs around family engagement, and capacity-building for leadership teams and early intervention teams has begun. A variety of family engagement activities are being implemented. Some are focused on strengthening Individualized Family Service Plan development while others are focusing on engaging families and improving family assessment.

We submitted our SSIP report to the Office of Special Education Programs in a timely fashion on 4/1/19. In May, we will be joining other states to discuss our progress and challenges during a Cross State Learning Collaborative meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.

Future activities include continued capacity building around family engagement, refinement of our evaluation plan, and planning for scale up and sustainability. We welcome everyone’s input so if you have any comments, please email them to Chelsea Guillen at

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 (