Are you an early childhood special education teacher? A speech/language pathologist? Are you an occupational therapist? A physical therapist? Are you interested in working with young children? If so, I would like to invite you to try the field of early intervention. I have been working with the early intervention program in New York State for about 20 years now, and it has been nothing short of fulfilling and amazing.
What is the early intervention program? Special education law (PL 94-142) provides for services for young children, from birth until 3 years of age, and their families, in Part C of the law. Parents refer their children to the program if they feel that they are lagging behind in their expected milestones. Children get evaluated based on those areas of concern. When the evaluations are completed, if the child qualifies for early intervention services based on the results of the evaluation, a meeting with the early intervention agency and the family will take place, and they will agree on a plan of action to work on.
This plan is very family-centered and it takes into account the fact that the child’s life really centers around the family. It also takes into account what the family needs so that the skills the child learns while in therapy are carried over to activities in the home. After all, the hallmark of learning is being able to transfer knowledge and skills from one activity to another.
If you live in New York, like me, and you are interested in working as a therapist for the early intervention program you should be aware that most cases (and all cases in you live in New York City) get assigned to you with the help of an agency. The agency has access to all the cases that need to be assigned to a therapist and their job is to try to bring services to the family as soon as services are approved. Sometimes, cases can even be assigned really early in the process, so once they are approved, the family does not have to wait to receive services. It is a win-win situation for all parties involved!
In my years working as a special instructor for the early intervention program, I have worked with different agencies but the one that always stood out not only because of the services they provide but also because they understand their most important asset is the therapists that work with the families, is KinderKare. I truly recommend them (and I have sent a few therapists their way) for anyone that is seeking a career in early intervention. You make your own schedule and you decide your own hours!
Best of luck in your professional pursuits!