When a group of committed people keep what’s best for children and families at the centre of everything they do, great things happen. The integration of early-intervention services for preschool-age children is proof of this.
Examples of services preschool-age children might receive include speech and language support, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.
Thanks to the collaboration of service providers across Simcoe County, there is a common intake procedure and a shared electronic record for children receiving support or treatment.
The sharing of files and test results between service providers prevents duplication in assessment and services. Families don’t need to complete forms multiple times, and children don’t need to go through the same tests more than once. The agencies and health care professionals supporting a family work as a team.
In fall 2012, a plan was developed to involve the education systems to make sure the transition to school is smooth for the children and families.
“The goal is to ensure there’s no gap for children receiving services,” says Rhea Taplin, Clinical Team Lead, Children’s Development Services at the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie.
Working together, service providers and school board staff figured out how to present the information in the shared electronic record so it matches format of Individual Education Plans (IEP) created by schools to outline the learning needs and necessary supports for individual students. A new document was created called a Transitional Integrated Program Plan (TIPP).
Front and centre in every TIPP is the family’s vision, which includes any concerns the family may have, or details about the family that are important for school staff to know.
Notes Taplin,“Family members are involved at every step. The transition planning process helps families build a relationship of trust with the school from the start.”
In September 2013, the first group of students with TIPPs entered the school system. School and board staff members have access to the complete electronic record, and have been involved with transition planning for each child since the spring.
The existence of the TIPP means families don’t need to relay their child’s history to the school, and schools won’t need to complete many of the assessments they would have conducted in the past in order to create an IEP and coordinate the necessary supports. Thanks to this collaboration, supports can be in place right away.
The team will evaluate the project this school year, and continue to make improvements that are in the best interest of children and families.
The work that’s taken place to create the common intake, shared record and school transition plan is thanks to connections made through the Child, Youth and Family Services Coalition of Simcoe County, a countywide alliance of organizations providing services to children, youth and their families in Simcoe County.