The Children's Alliance

The Real Scoop on Developmental Services in Mecklenburg County PDF Print Email
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 00:00

Charlotte Anychild’s Dinner Prayer

Every night we have family dinner. For grandma and grandpa it is a tradition and while our family lives under their roof, momma insists that we honor it. I look forward to the chance to share my day at school and listen to what everyone else did.

During family prayer Grandma asked us to pray for a family at our church. They had their baby much earlier than expected. After months in the hospital they returned home. He is almost 2 now and is still not walking or talking.

They are still paying his hospital bills and the family was worried they would not be able to afford additional treatment and services needed for their son. The family was thrilled to learn that the County provides  services until age 3, some of them at no charge to the family They begin the process of getting approval for services this week.

My little brother chimed in that he had a friend at his preschool who has special teachers come visit him to help him walk. He said he always smiled when Ms. Ashley comes to visit. We prayed that the family would be approved for services and that they would be connected to someone like Ms. Ashley. We prayed that these services would help him live a happy productive life.

The Real Scoop on Developmental Services in Mecklenburg County

Becoming a parent is one of those beautiful experiences in life no one can quite prepare you for. Nothing anyone says really prepares you for the adventure you are going to embark on. Most of parenting is learning on your feet and from your experience growing up.

As life tends to do, there are curve balls – and what if for your family it comes in the form of a developmental delay in your child? Now all the sudden you are navigating in a world you may have no experience in. Who can you call?

The Referral

Remember those questions the doctor asks at your child’s well appointments? (You are going to those, right? This is when the doctor gives immunizations and makes sure your child is developing on schedule. If healthcare cost is a concern, become familiar with services at the Mecklenburg County Health Department and learn about Medicaid – children often qualify for it)

The doctor uses the questions and milestones to determine whether your child is developing on schedule. If there is concern you may be referred to the Children’s Developmental Service Agency. If you have a concern you may also call and self refer – their number is 704-336-7130. One of the most important things they will teach you is YOU are your child’s first advocate.

Under federal law these services are offered to children under 3 with reduced or no charge to the families. To qualify your child must have at least 25% delay in 2 of the 6 developmental areas or a 30% delay in 1.

What Happens after We Qualify?

After a eligibility process, you are assigned a service coordinator who is charged with organizing your family’s supports and services. This person will become a great ally to a family in setting priorities and desired outcomes based on their concerns. One of the roles of the service coordinator is to develop a plan that fits each families individual needs. The plan focuses on activities within the family’s daily routines, understanding parents are the child’s best teacher.

The plan, or IFSP (Individual Family Service Plan) shows parents things they can work on daily within the course of their daily routines to help their children achieve their goals. Your service coordinator connects and coordinates parents to tools and resources that include: Occupational therapy, Physical therapy, Speech Therapy, referrals for family support, and mental health services.

There is currently NO wait list in Mecklenburg County. ALL Children are potentially eligible for this program until age 3 -  it is not based on income. For families that need special education after 3, your service coordinator helps transition you into Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) services where your child’s IFSP becomes an IEP (Individual Education Plan).For those that don’t, your service coordinator will help you transition to other supports and services.

Child researchers are becoming more and more vocal about how critical early intervention is for children. Families who receive these services early, with the necessary supports and resources, can enhance their child’s learning and development


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