Learning begins at birth! The infant brain is building connections. Early ACCESS is also building connections within our community. Early ACCESS is a partnership between families with young children, birth to age three, and providers from local public health, human services, Child Health Specialty Clinics, Area Education Agencies and other community programs. The purpose of this system is to unite families and providers in working together to identify, coordinate and provide needed services and resources that will help the family assist their infant or toddler to grow and develop.
Approximately 1,000 referrals are received every year for services for children within the 9,000 square miles Area Education Agency 267 (AEA 267) serves. Referrals to Early ACCESS come from many sources including parents who might have a concern about their child’s development. Once a referral is made to Early ACCESS, a service coordinator will call the family to schedule a first visit to explain Early ACCESS. During the first visit the service coordinator will listen to the family’s concerns about how their child is learning, growing and developing. Family interests, strengths and resources may also be discussed. If the family agrees, the service coordinator will help coordinate an evaluation to look at all areas of development including health, nutrition, hearing and vision.
Following the evaluation, a meeting will be held with the family to discuss the results. Early ACCESS is voluntary and it is the family’s choice to participate. There are no costs to families for service coordination, evaluation and for most services. Services are most often provided in the home, child care setting or where children typically live and play. Often parents who participate make comments such as, “we’ve been able to move forward… the goals have been ours and the steps to get there have been a team approach.”
For more information about Early ACCESS, call (800) 475-0804 ext. 221 or (800) 645-3019 ext. 236. An Early ACCESS coordinator will be available to discuss your concerns about your child’s learning, growth and development. You may also find more information at the Early ACCESS website at www.EarlyACCESSIowa.org.
Read an Early ACCESS success story!
Margaret Jensen is an Early ACCESS Regional Coordinator for Early ACCESS in Region 7/AEA 267. Area Education Agency 267 serves over 60,000 students. In addition, over 5,000 educators rely on AEA 267 for services in special education, school technology, media and instructional/curriculum support. The agency’s service area reaches 18 counties and nearly 9,000 square miles.