This spring, parent leaders met to share their personal experiences and knowledge of the Early Intervention system in Illinois – what is working and what is not, and they pretty quickly realized that there is a widespread problem of families being unable to access developmental screenings and early intervention services in many Illinois communities – and where the services are available, many families have challenges navigating them or just don’t know about them.
The parents decided to launch a statewide campaign to address Early Intervention Redlining and Access Barriers to find solutions to this problem. They met with partners at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Voices for Illinois Children and others on the state’s Early Learning Council.
Parent leaders want to ensure that children in ALL communities have equal access to quality Early Intervention Screenings and Services. And, they have some promising ideas already being tested out:
- In East St. Louis, parent leaders are trained in the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) and are using the ASQ with families in their community. This tool helps families determine developmental milestones and empowers them to seek additional resources if their child appears to have any developmental delays.
- In Chicago, south side parents created the Parent Peer Advocate Pilot project, in partnership with the Southside Early Learning Network (SELN), to connect parents to resources for early intervention and special education services, such as developmental screenings and early learning programs, and to help them navigate these complicated systems. They hope to expand this concept statewide. (link to report)
- And in Aurora, parents are trained in the ASQ and partnering with SPARK and the local Child and Family Connections to reach more families.
Stay tuned for more news on this important campaign for equity for Illinois’ youngest babies!