Chattanooga Providers Work to Meet Demand as Tennessee Expands Age for Early Intervention


Local nonprofit providers that serve children with developmental delays are scaling up to meet anticipated demand as Tennessee’s early intervention system now covers participants until the start of the school year after their fifth birthday.

The Tennessee Early Intervention System is a voluntary program that offers free therapy and other support services to infants and young children with developmental delays or disabilities. While federal law requires states to provide those services through age 3, Tennessee in October became the first state to give eligible families the option to receive early intervention services for children until they reach kindergarten age.

Julie Hill, home and community-based early intervention director at Siskin Children’s Institute, said children would historically exit the home-based system and begin getting support from the local school system after they turn 3. “The beauty of the program is that parents have a choice now,” Hill said in a phone interview. “They can choose to access supports and services through the school system or they can continue to … receive services in home and in their natural environment.”

One of the hallmarks of early intervention is meeting children where they’re already comfortable, such as at their home, Hill said.

by Elizabeth Fite at Chattanooga Times Free Press

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