Families on the Move

[Singing]

I saw a bus on the way to school

I saw a bus on the way to school

I saw a bus on the way to school

On my way to...

Narrator: I.D.E.A., the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part H, describes a statewide system of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with special needs. Fourteen components make up this law, components like the family service plan, child referral, and public awareness.

All the components must fit together as a comprehensive system that parents and professionals who provide services to children with disabilities need to understand. Part H expert, Doris Haar, found a way to visualize how the law's many parts work together.

Doris Haar: I chose the bicycle as a complex mechanism that really visualizes for me the entire Part H program, with all its many component parts that are essential to a good, smooth-running program. Just as you can't do without a pedal on a bike, every one of the components are essential.

The bicycle also represents a means of looking at what you contribute to the program as a state planner or a local planner or even as a family. What are the steps you'll have to go through in order to get to the direct services of this Part H program?

[Music]

Narrator: The two bicycle pedals are the driving force of the system. One pedal represents the state lead agency responsible for administering Part H. The other pedal represents a state interagency coordinating council, or I.C.C., made up of individuals from many public and private agencies, and parents of eligible children.

The lead agency is selected by the governor and is the agency that will best represent the interest of families with infants and toddlers who have special needs. The two pedals representing the lead agency and the I.C.C. should be well-balanced and work together.

[Music]

Narrator: One of the first actions of these two bodies is to agree on a definition of infants and toddlers who will be eligible for early intervention services. This definition may include many infants and toddlers who not only have disabilities but are at risk for disability. Once you have defined which infants and toddlers your state will serve, the gears go into action.

The front gear is public awareness. Through public awareness efforts, professionals and families must learn about this law. And understand how to make referrals to the Part H system. Professionals and families identify and refer potentially eligible infants and children. The children are then evaluated and, if they are eligible, referred into the Part H program.

For instance, a physician may know that a child will automatically qualify for services or the child may require multiple evaluations to determine her eligibility. The child referral, identification and evaluation process, like the bicycle chain, links the front gear, which represents professional and public awareness, with the back gear, representing the very important component, an Individualized Family Service Plan, or IFSP.

The IFSP is a plan developed by professionals and families that outlines services that will be set into motion for the benefit of a family. The first step is bringing professionals and family together to develop an Individualized Family Service Plan.

The IFSP is developed by a team and the family is a major team member. This mother has specific knowledge of her child's needs and gets help from the various professionals in meeting those needs.

The connection between the family and services is often made by a service coordinator who brings services and families together. An important feature of Part H is that the family has control of the family service plan.

[Music]

Narrator: The services themselves are like the bicycle's rear wheel, constantly moving the family ahead. Services may include home-based or center-based care that occurs in a setting that is natural for the child and the family. Nursing services; therapies; speech and language services. Parent support where parents, who have been through this kind of experience, are able to support other parents. Transportation. Vision services. Augmentive devices and products.

States are required to compile a central directory of service resources. This is a list of all the public agencies and private businesses available to help families with eligible children.

The Part H law requires that professional standards be maintained and personnel training be provided to ensure the delivery of quality services. Training assistance to professionals may include in-service training, continuing education and pre-service training.

[Music]

Narrator: The bicycle's front wheel represents other resources that are available for families through formal and informal public and private interagency agreements. Like the legislature and the media, both can be very helpful in increasing public awareness about Part H. Programs for children with special health care needs. Mental health programs. Like the bicycle's tire, interagency agreements help families and children move ahead.

[Music]

Narrator: Just as the distance cyclist stops and checks her map from time to time, assessing her progress, Part H service coordinators keep track of where the family is going and where they have been. What services is the family receiving? What are the cost of these services? The tracking system also helps to identify what services are missing? And what areas may need improvement? Data also shows the growth of the statewide Part H program.

A unique feature of Part H is that the family, like the bike-rider, has control over where to go, when to stop, and when to get on and off again.

[Music]

Narrator: The handlebars of the bicycle are in the control of the family. Control over the direction to go is in the family's hands. This family control is new for professionals who are used to telling families what to do. In this instance, the family is in charge.

[Music]

Narrator: Like the bicyclist's protective helmet, Part H has important procedural safeguards. These safeguards include confidentiality, and the family's right to their own records. And, like the bicyclist, if the family runs into problems, they can sound the horn by making an appeal if something isn't right.

[Music]

Narrator: As children reach the cut-off of Part H at age three, the IFSP plan is rewritten for the transition into the appropriate next steps for the child and the family.

[Music]

Narrator: The most challenging part of this bike is the price tag. Part H must be paid for by the time the state enters its fifth year of planning. It can be paid for through many sources, including federal, state and local funds. Direct services may be paid for by families using a sliding scale. Health insurance may be used for direct services but the framework for identification, referral and evaluation, IFSP planning, and service coordination must be made available statewide, free of charge to eligible families.

[Music]

Narrator: Remember, that a bicycle functions well only if all of its parts are maintained and operate together properly, just as Part H will function best when parents and professionals coordinate and work together to help children grow and develop.

[Music]

Narrator: Without a doubt, loving care is the most important ingredient in the Part H program. The Part H program combined with loving care will give families and children a smooth ride now, and will improve their chances for a productive future.

[Music]