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The Early Intervention (EI) program of the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene provides a range of supportive and therapeutic services to over 37,000 children a year below the age of three who have developmental delays and recognized disabilities. The aim of the program is to reduce the likelihood and severity of life long disabilities.
Research indicates that children do better when therapists coach and support the family in activities that will enhance a child's therapeutic plan, especially during the time between visits from the therapist. In February of 2006, the Health Department implemented "Families as Partners" (FAP), an initiative that emphasizes parental and other caregiver involvement and systematic collaboration between families and service providers.
Private foundation funding supported the NYC Health Department and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in designing and implementing monitoring tools and procedures to assess family and provider adherence to FAP guidelines and principles. Monitoring tools have helped gauge the response and satisfaction of families and identify performance improvement opportunities for provider agencies, EI intervention workers, and for the FAP program itself. Data and tools from this project have been useful to the NYC Health Department as it continues work on FAP integration and aims to increase EI provider use of cost-effective, evidence-based interventions that involve families in a child’s treatment plan.