We provide an integrated approach to infant and young child development in family-centred intervention that is responsive to parent strengths, competencies and priorities, and is based on up-to-date research data regarding evidence-based practices. Infant and child development consultants provide the expertise needed to assist the family to make informed decisions regarding goals and objectives for their child that will support optimal development and functional outcomes.
The family is the major decision-maker in a child’s life, and its active involvement throughout intervention is essential to a satisfactory and meaningful outcome (Dunst, Trivette, & Deal, (1988, 1994); Meissels & Shonkoff, (1990, 2000); Turnbull, A.P., Beach Center on Disability, University of Kansas).
Through a transdisciplinary approach, and in collaboration with other service providers in the community, we provide for the optimal development of the child and family. Support is provided within the child’s natural environment where the infant and young child development consultant serves many functions. Some services are*:
- informal and formal child and family assessments, using a variety of screening and diagnostic assessment measures
- direct early intervention in all developmental domains (gross and fine motor, social and emotional, language and cognitive)
- development of and support in providing interventions to promote secure infant attachment
- assistance to families wishing to access specialized funding and information about additional community resources and supports
- service co-ordination in a family-centred process of planning, locating, co-coordinating and monitoring the services and supports to meet the child’s and family’s needs
- assistance to parents in obtaining information about their child’s condition or diagnosis
- supportive counselling where a diagnosis of developmental delay or medical condition exists
- advocacy for and with families in their relationship with health, social and community services
- provision of information related to typical and atypical child development
- play-based therapeutic intervention
- support to enhance parenting skills and parental competence
- interventions that focus on promoting infant mental health and positive parent-child interactions, providing support to the parent-infant relationship
- supported transition into child care and school
- community-wide planning, for the child with the family, with other service providers in a cross-sectoral approach
- pre-emptive public education to help decrease the effects of preventable delays
The infant and child development consultant assists families in the identification of their needs, resources and service requirements. The family’s involvement and participation is a recognized key factor in the achievement of successful outcomes (Bromwich, 1997).
We serve more than 15,000 children per year throughout the province of Ontario. A range of intervention strategies and approaches are used, including visits to the child’s home environment at a frequency negotiated with the family. Frequency and type of service is established according to family and child needs, and is crucially dependent on the resources available to each program. In many cases we serve families in a consultation framework with Healthy Babies Healthy Children or other community service providers.
Infant and Child Development Services participate on community planning committees for a more comprehensive and rational service delivery system through Best Start, Developmental Services, Children’s Mental Health, Child Welfare, and Local Health Integration Networks. (Making Services Work for People, Implementation Planning Guidelines for Best Start Networks)