Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services
Evaluation of Early Childhood Intervention Services
Many states are facing significant challenges as they continue to implement early intervention systems operating under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In large part, these challenges are a result of increasing need, limited funding, and changes in community resources for ECI families. Advances in science and knowledge related to early child development also present a challenge as we evaluate them to determine how they relate to the ECI program. Given all of these factors, it is important and timely to re-examine our service system.
DARS is Initiating an Evaluation of the ECI Program
The current ECI service system is not sustainable. Also, it may not be delivering benefits to children and families that lessen their dependence on special education and other state services.
The ECI system is required to reach and serve all eligible children and families. It is difficult to meet this requirement for several reasons:
- significant growth in the number of children and families receiving services (approximately 7 percent each year)
- resource levels that do not support adequate service levels
- a complex contract payment structure with multiple federal, state, and local funding sources
For these reasons, DARS is evaluating the ECI program. The goal of this evaluation is to develop recommendations for a sustainable ECI program that can effectively serve children and families. The evaluation will have several components, including those to:
- gather input from parents, pediatricians, and program/clinical experts to identify:
- aspects of the ECI system that are most important to children and families,
- strengths of the ECI system, and
- services that are not aligned with the program's priorities and strengths;
- assess the gap between service needs and ECI service levels;
- examine family cost share and co-pay policies;
- evaluate and recommend changes to contract and payment structures and methods used to account for funding sources.
The first step in the evaluation will be a meeting on September 29th and 30th in Austin, reconvening October 21st. During this meeting parents, clinical experts, and other invited stakeholders will share their ideas about the direction of the ECI program. During calendar year 2010 there will be a series of public meetings to get input on recommendations and proposed changes to program rules from the September meeting. DARS anticipates holding a competitive procurement after the culmination of the evaluation initiative.
Evaluation timeline: September 2009 through August 2011
Joe C. Thompson Center – 2405 Robert Dedman Drive (southwest corner of Dean Keeton and Red River)
September 29 – 30, 2009
Day one: 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. CST Room 2.120
Day two: 8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. CST Room 2.120
October 21, 2009
8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. CST Room 3.102
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