by Alison Chavez, MA
Why we support beginning or continuing early intervention services for your child during the COVID-19 crisis—backed by the science of child development.
The COVID-19 crisis has created stress, uncertainty, and anxiety for many families and Early Intervention (EI) providers. As EI services move to telehealth across the United States, parents and providers need to talk about these changes. Parents may have concerns about telehealth such as “One hour is too long for my little one to sit in front of a screen” and “Having an online session is stressful, why can’t EI services just wait until this pandemic is over?”
This resource supports conversations between parents and EI providers on the importance of children receiving EI services during this time. Here are some reasons to start or continue with EI services for your child—backed by the science of child development.
The first 3 years are a time of rapid developmental progress for children.
The years from birth to 3 are an important time for setting foundational behaviors for later developmental growth. Children’s interactions with parents and other adults at this stage can set them up to be better prepared for learning at school. Early experiences with play can also help children to develop healthy social and emotional skills.
Keeping structure is helpful for children.
If your child was in EI services, consider those a part of your child’s routine. If you are now thinking about starting EI services, building routines can help you and your child cope during stressful times. Structure helps children feel supported and can help them build confidence because they know what to expect.
Improve your relationship with your child, which may lessen some of your stress during this time.
Science tells us that parents and children mutually influence each other across early childhood. This means that a parent’s behaviors can influence a child’s behaviors and vice versa. This mutual influence can be particularly important during times of stress. EI providers can support you in finding positive ways to interact with your child, which may decrease your stress related to family life (and may even result in your child showing more positive behaviors).
Save money, in the long run.
Finances may not be a concern for all families but consider the cost: EI is free to families in most states. After your child turns 3 years old, in most states, receiving developmental services is expensive. Consider this time as an investment in your child’s future. Economistshave found that every dollar spent on early childhood services, such as EI, can save society up to $7.30 later on.
Another resource for you, the parent
Worried about your parenting or parenting stress level during this time? Certainly, EI providers support child development, but they also support parents and parent-child interaction. Consider your EI provider a resource for you. Ask questions. EI providers can help you get connected to other resources during this time.
For parenting resources during this time, visit ZERO TO THREE’s Tips for Families: Coronavirus page.
For EI specific resources, please visit ZERO TO THREE’s partner the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) of the Council for Exceptional Children.
For other helpful resources, visit the Parenting for Lifelong Health page where you can find infographics in more than 60 languages.
Created by Alison Chavez, MA, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMB). With support from Alice Carter, PhD, professor of psychology at UMB.
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