The Dougherty County School System (DCSS) is seeking to expand their Early Intervention Program, which will require the district to hire 25 new teachers. The DCSS Early Intervention Program, EIP, is a program targeted for at-risk youth in an attempt to catch students who are lagging behind their peers in school progress. A good program indeed that will increase school graduation rates by preventing school dropout and promoting school success, which will also have positive impacts on the economy.
At-risk youth need to be targeted at the appropriate developmental and age stages to prevent school dropout. The expansion will include incorporating grades K-3, in addition to grades 4 and 5, which are already part of the program. Adding these grade levels will help the school system target at-risk youth at critical ages. The expansion will cost the school system an additional $1 million dollars that the school system will seek to fund out of the general fund until reimbursements from the state can be paid to the school system.
Intervention/prevention programs, such as EIP targeted at at-risk youth are great for the community and society as a whole in preventing dropout rates, increasing school graduation rates, and helping economy and economic progress. In order for an early intervention program to be a success, or a good investment, the type of program and its focus is critical. Family centered programs, according to research are the most effective EIPs. They are more effective than clinical based therapeutic programs that were traditionally used 20 years ago.
Theories are changing about the role parents and families have in children’s development. Family centered programs are better EIPs because of the scope of family services provided and the manner in which service providers interact with clients. It would be wise for an early intervention program model not to focus on clinical oriented therapeutic educational services targeted at addressing children’s learning and developmental needs but be focus on and place an emphasis on enhancing and supporting the effectiveness of families caring for their children. Increased legal and moral rights for parents have all called for the change or shift in this focus of early intervention programs.
Reflecting the family-centered model, federal early intervention legislation was developed to promote three goals for parent and family involvement. 1. The scope of family services to be broadened to include the full of range of services needed to help parents adjust and cope with the stressors and demands associated with raising children with disabilities. Now going beyond traditional educational and therapeutic activities, research states services now include a comprehensive array of financial, social, psychological, and other family support services that would be responsive to parent and family needs associated with the care of their children. 2. Parents are to become fully involved in the planning of early intervention services; working with professionals to implement preventive and intervention strategies. 3. Parents should become full partners in the early intervention process. The law provides parents do not become primary interventionists but promotes parents and professionals working collaboratively. Since the passage of the IDEA, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the professional community has been highly supportive of expanding family services and giving parents more prominent roles in the identification and planning process.
Providers need to be trained adequately in family centered services offered by EIP. In addition, the public needs to know whether the type and intensity of services families received corresponded to family characteristics pinpointing of the greatest level of need and not less mediocre things such as location. Findings and research shows the services that early intervention programs provide to families are highly responsive to their needs. However, research also shows the types of family services respondents received from their program generally were not related to the child characteristics entered into data equations. For example, respondents with positive family characteristics, who are likely to have fewer needs for support, received the greatest amount of services. More work need to be put into helping those families that are in most need.
Research findings suggest that factors such as program access to parents and state resources and policies may be greater determinants of the types of service parents receive than are parent’s personal preferences. Thus, the amount of effort put into this program from leaders, school officials, stakeholders and other important constituents is pivotal. Adequate and efficient resources must be in place and policies must adhere to the needs of the families in addition to identifying those families most in need will, cause the maximum evidence of positive change. EIPs must ensure the families with the greatest amount of need who are unable to express that need are still heard and taken care of nonetheless.
Generally, the needs behind early intervention programs are assumed to be caused by parents lacking the information, resources, and support that are necessary for raising children and addressing developmental concerns. A family needs driven model provide capable parents greater opportunities to negotiate the services they would like to receive for their children and families. Hence, the Dougherty County School System should invest in a model with a family-centered approach that, according to research, will be most effective.