Who Is Eligible for Babies Can't Wait?
BCW serves children from birth up to their third birthday, regardless of income, who meet one of the following criteria:
- Have a diagnosed physical or mental condition which is known to result in a developmental delay, such as blindness, Down syndrome, or Spina Bifida; or
- Have a diagnosed developmental delay confirmed by a qualified team of professionals.
You may view the complete list of diagnoses that result in automatic eligibility for Babies Can't Wait to determine if a specific diagnosis is covered. Information about specific diagnoses may be obtained through the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the Centers for Disease Control, the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, and the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD).
Anyone can refer a child to Babies Can't Wait. In order to refer a child to BCW for an evaluation, contact the district office that serves the county in which the child and family reside. Children may also be referred to Babies Can't Wait through the district Children 1st program. You may use the Children With Special Needs Coordinator Contact List for information on how to reach local Babies Can't Wait Programs.
What Services Does BCW Provide?
- Multidisciplinary evaluation to determine eligibility and multidisciplinary assessments to determine the scope of services needed.
- Service coordination that assists the family and other professionals in developing a plan to enhance the child's development.
Note: The above two services are offered to families at NO cost.
- Access to early intervention services identified in the child's plan. State funds are available, based on a sliding fee scale, to assist families who are determined by the local BCW Program to be unable to pay.
What Are Early Intervention Services?
Services may include assistive technology devices, audiology, family training and counseling, health services, medical diagnostic services, certain nursing services, nutrition services, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychological services, social work, special instruction, speech-language pathology, vision services, and transportation to services.
Where Are Early Intervention Services Provided?
Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997 says that to the maximum extent appropriate, early intervention services must be provided in natural environments, including home and community settings in which children without disabilities participate. Services can only be provided in a setting other than a natural environment when early intervention cannot be achieved satisfactorily in a natural environment. [Sec. 632 (4) (G) and Sect. 635 (a) (16) (B)]. Current Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) language encourages state Part C Programs to examine not only where services are provided but how services are provided, the research and evidence that supports the services, and the effectiveness of the services. Part C programs are being encouraged to provide supports that focus on helping families and care providers promote children's development and participation within their families and communities, through the numerous learning opportunities that occur within natural daily activities and routines. The law defines natural environments as "settings that are natural or normal for the child's age peers who have no disabilities" (34 CFR 303.18), such as home, child care or community settings.
The Division for Early Childhood (DEC) of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) adopted a position on Inclusion in April 1993 (Revised December 1993; Reaffirmed 1996; Updated 2000) That position states:
"Inclusion, as a value, supports the rights of all children, regardless of abilities to participate actively in natural settings within their communities. Natural settings are those in which the child would spend time had he or she not had a disability. These settings include, but are not limited to home, preschool, nursery schools, Head Start programs, kindergartens, neighborhood school classrooms, child care, places of worship, recreational (such as community playgrounds and community events) and other settings that all children and families enjoy. DEC supports and advocates that young children and their families have full and successful access to health, social, educational, and other support services that promote full participation in family and community life. DEC values the cultural, economic, and educational diversity of families and supports a family-guided process for identifying a program of service. As young children participate in group settings (such as preschool, play groups, child care, kindergarten) their active participation should be guided by developmentally and individually appropriate curriculum. Access to and participation in the age appropriate general curriculum becomes central to the identification and provision of specialized support services."
The Power of the Ordinary provides examples of the rich array of learning opportunities that occur throughout the everyday lives of young children. The Orlena Hawks Puckett is a not-for-profit organization that engages in activities that enhance and promote healthy child, parent and family functioning. Their goal is to foster adoption of evidence-based practices that build on the capacities and strengths of children, parents and families; communities; and public and private organizations. The Center for the Advanced Study of Excellence (CASE) in Early Childhood and Family Support Practices at the Family, Infant and Preschool Program provides strategies and tools to support the a family-centered approach to enhancing child and family competence and confidence. Additional resources and information about inclusion and family-guided processes within early intervention and early childhood education can be viewed at the Circle of Inclusion website and the Institute for Family-Centered Care website. For a parent's perspective on disability and inclusion, see the Disability is Natural website.
The IDEA defines the roles of service providers in early intervention as "assessment, consultation and training" (CFR 303.12) in order to support families and caregivers. The role of the service provider is that of a coach, consultant, or facilitator, an equal partner in supporting learning and sharing strategies with the family/care provider and other professionals, rather than a provider of direct services to the child.
Additional information about service delivery in early intervention is available through various sources. FACETS is an Outreach Program for Young Children with Disabilities in the field of Early Intervention (ages birth through three years). This joint project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, between the University of Kansas and Florida State University, provides training for family-guided, activity based intervention strategies. TaCTICS (Therapists as Collaborative Team members for Infant/Toddler Community Services) is a related outreach training project that is also funded by a U.S. Department of Education Grant. TaCTICS provides tools useful in skillfully navigating the path toward provision of Part C Services using the child/family's daily routines, activities, and events as a context for assessment and intervention.
If you are interested in reading more about service delivery in early intervention, consult the NECTAC Keys to Natural Environments and Inclusion resources.
Who Provides Services within Babies Can't Wait?
Services are provided by agencies and individuals from both public and private sectors. Individuals and agencies interested in employment and contracting with Babies Can't Wait should contact the district office(s) in which you are interested in working to inquire about current opportunities and needs in that area. You may use the Children With Special Needs Coordinator Contact List for information on how to reach local Babies Can't Wait Programs.
Babies Can't Wait requires that district early intervention program directors/coordinators must meet the following qualifications: (1) masters degree in education (early childhood or special education), pediatric nursing, psychology, social work, or other directly related field, and (2) two years of professional experience providing services to or teaching infants/toddlers and families and/or in the administration of a service delivery program for infants/toddlers and families or children's health. Or (1) bachelors degree in education (early childhood or special education), pediatric nursing, psychology, social work, or other directly related field, and (2) five years of professional experience providing services to or teaching infants/toddlers and families and/or in the administration of a service delivery program for infants/toddlers and families or children's health.
Babies Can't Wait requires that all service coordinators must have (1) a bachelors degree in an approved field plus two years direct work experience with children with special needs and their families, or (2) a licensed Registered nurse with two years direct work experience with children with special needs and their families, or (3) a master degree in an approved field.
Babies Can't Wait requires that all early intervention specialists must have a master's degree in one of the following fields Early Childhood Special Education, Child Development, Early Childhood Education, Special Education and two years of professional experience (after degree is awarded or licensure is granted) providing service to or teaching children under age 6 and their families and/or in the administration of a service delivery program for children and families or children's health. Early Interventionists must have a bachelor's degree in education, child development, pediatric nursing, psychology, social work, or other directly related field. Early Intervention Assistants must have high school diploma or G.E.D.
Audiologists, Family Therapists, Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Speech/Language Pathologists, Physicians, Psychologists, and Social Workers providing early intervention services must meet all Georgia educational and licensure requirements.
In addition to requirements that early intervention personnel meet standards and qualifications, ongoing systems for training and continuing education are available throughout Georgia. Project SCEIs is a collaborative effort of Georgia's colleges and universities dedicated to the training needs and professional development of Georgia's early intervention personnel and includes extensive information on Early Intervention (EI), Babies Can't Wait (BCW), training and education opportunities. Training and technical assistance as well as parent and family support resources are available through the Beach Center on Disability and the Division for Exception Children (DEC) of the Council for Exceptional Children.