Early intervention is undoubtedly an important service for young people in need; however, equally important member(s) of the process are family members and care givers that are involved in said child’s life. This is never more evident than when a child is transitioning from Part C to Part B services. While both are an important part of the early intervention process, Part C is notably much more geared to the needs of the family as a whole. Part B has sometimes been criticized because it focuses moreso on the academic needs of the child and becomes much less family centered than those services that are available under Part C. As such, researchers are finally beginning to consider the ramifications of switching from Part C to Part B services in the hopes of making this time easier for the lives of families and the children who need help the most. One study completed in 2013 sought to understand the transition between the two phases and, more specifically how this transitory stage affects families themselves (Podvey, Hinojosa & Koenig, 2013).
One might think that as long as a child is receiving the services they need (speech and language therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, audiologic services, etc) the family will not suffer consequences from their child’s disorder or special needs however; this perspective does not take into consideration the emotional and physical support that families require when raising a child who has special needs. This lack of support is evidenced in the 2013 study as authors found that many families did not feel that they received the necessary support during the transitional phases as they, perhaps, should have. Thus, studies such as the aforementioned are essential to better understanding the consequences and of transitioning. Certainly the system is not perfect and we must find ways to buttress families in general. Unfortunately, one of the greatest concerns raised in the study is that families do not feel like there are appropriate transitional services in place. They reported that they did not necessarily understand the differences between the two types of services and did not feel that it was explained to them by any of the professionals that they worked with which is an extremely disconcerting part of the articles conclusions (Podvey, Hinojosa & Koenig, 2013). It is important that this be considered constructively so that effective changes can be made to the system as a whole. The goal of early intervention is ultimately to improve the potential of those young people who are identified as needing services. Yet, we cannot forget the importance of family members and caregivers who ultimately influence young people on a day to day basis.

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While this study was very enlightening, it also had its limitations. For example, there were only six families included in the study, which may not be enough to be representative of the population in general. Additionally, the children who were receiving services wither had speech delay, motor delay, autism spectrum disorder or some combination of these issues which is certainly not representative of the population of children who receive early intervention services. There are many reasons why a child and his/her family might receive early intervention and it is important to complete future research that considers these areas of interest (Podvey, Hinojosa & Koenig, 2013). Part C recognizes that children rely on their inherent family structure to develop effectively. When a family is not able to support a young child, any early interventions that are attempted will likely fall flat because they are not consistent throughout the context of the child’s life. Instead of segregating services, it is important that the system step back and realize the overall picture of a child’s life to ensure that all of their needs are being met, including those that are related to their inherent familial structure.

  • Podvey, M.C., Hinojosa, J. & Koenig, K.P. (2013). Reconsidering insider status for families during the transition from early intervention to preschool special education. The Journal of Special Education, 46(4):211-222.