As healthcare continues to shift toward providing care closer to home, or in the home, the Family Child Learning Center (FCLC) has begun to take a closer look at where their services are provided.
“Within the last 10 years, the federal law that governs early intervention, the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, has really emphasized that early intervention services should be delivered in what the law defines as natural settings,” Marilyn Espe-Sherwindt, PhD, director of the FCLC.
The FCLC is a collaborative effort between Akron Children’s Hospital and Kent State University. They provides services to young children with developmental concerns and their families.
To ensure they continue to offer these services in the best possible environment, Dr. Espe-Sherwindt and her staff developed a study to compare intervention provided in the child’s home versus intervention provided at the center. The study measured the amount of time staff spent working directly with the family in each setting. Teaching families strategies to help their infant or toddler develop is a more effective way to deliver early intervention than only working with the child since families have the greatest impact on how their child develops.
“Previous research (done by others) has shown that even when intervention was being done in the home, that professionals were still primarily directly teaching the child,” said Dr. Espe-Sherwindt. “Our results were really very different from that. About 88 percent of the time, they were really interacting with the parent or the parent and child together.”
They also discovered a potential downside to home-based services. The presence of other siblings or visitors in the home created more interruptions than at the center.
Looking ahead, the FCLC is planning to do a similar study and include their new telehealth services. These services allow families to receive early intervention in the home via the Internet from a provider at the center.
Dr. Espe-Sherwindt added, “To me, the next logical step is, ‘What does that visit look like?’ ‘What differences do we see between a live home visit versus a live center visit versus a virtual visit with the family?’”
Dr. Espe-Sherwindt discusses these and other aspects of this study in the following video.