Families & Early Intervention
First Connections builds upon the strengths of the family to help their children develop positive social-emotional skills, acquire knowledge and skills and use appropriate behaviors to meet their needs.
All families teach their children. When a child has a delay or disability, First Connections can help parents gain new tools to support their child's participation, skill development, and early learning.
The role of the family in early intervention
Families are a child’s first teacher.
Families take an active role in early intervention as part of their child’s team along with a service coordinator and other early intervention professionals to learn about their child’s unique strengths, abilities, and needs to promote their child’s development through naturally occurring learning opportunities.
Active family/caregiver participation in the early intervention process is critical to a child’s development with support and training from qualified early intervention service providers.
The importance of Inclusion for Young Learners
What is a natural environment?
IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) Part C defines “natural environment” as settings and routines that are natural or typical for a same-aged infant or toddler without a disability. This would include places where children live, learn, and play, such as, home, daycare, grandmother’s house, and the park. Natural environments are more than a place.
Providing services in everyday settings helps children learn in the context of daily life. This method also gives parents and children many opportunities to practice strategies throughout the day as they communicate what they want, see, do, and enjoy during common everyday activities with familiar people in familiar circumstances.
The importance of natural environment
All children, no matter what their physical, cognitive, or emotional level of development, need meaningful opportunities to develop skills, establish a sense of self, and lay a foundation for life-long learning. All children learning together fosters the potential of every child. Children with disabilities have the right to play and learn alongside children without disabilities through inclusion practices.
Infants and toddlers learn best in their natural environment through every day experiences and interactions with familiar people in familiar contexts with typically developing peers.
Families & Referrals
What if I have a concern about my child, but I don’t have a referral?
When a parent has a concern about a child’s development, often the parent talks to his/her family doctor or the child’s pediatrician. Pediatricians will perform screenings at well-child checkups, which are a good way to measure your child’s growth and progress while making sure your child stays healthy.
Pediatricians can make referrals to early intervention, but it is important to remember that anyone can make a referral.
So, if your pediatrician feels like it’s OK to “wait and see” or feels like “it’s no big deal” but you still have concerns, you can refer your child by calling First Connections’ toll free number: 1-800-643-8258.