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Early Intervention Benefits Ellis Children and Families

Updated: Feb 28

All children are unique, and all children develop in their own ways. But at what point does a developmental difference require additional support? A critical Ellis partnership helps teachers and caregivers answer this question and provides necessary support.

The Ellis partnership with Thom Boston Metro Early Intervention (Thom) offers professional expertise and support to help children from birth to two years overcome barriers that hold back their development. Areas in need of Early Intervention (EI) may include motor skills development, language, or cognitive or emotional growth.

Ellis has two social workers, Cherish Casey and Liz Brot, who are responsible for encouraging active engagement of families (and of DCF) with their children’s development, and for identifying a range of barriers, from developmental to financial. They work with Thom directly and can connect families to support services offering appropriate help.

Now, Liz and Cherish have additional reinforcements. Meagan Golden, a Developmental Specialist from Thom, visits all Ellis infant and toddler classrooms once a month for observations to see if children might need EI services. Megan has the experience to quickly spot concerns that merit follow-up investigation.

The Thom providers and Ellis social worker team have a close, trusting relationship. After Megan consults with Cherish and Liz, they follow up with the child’s teachers, the education director, and the caregivers. With caregivers’ approval, Thom can complete a full evaluation and propose the next steps, which may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, or work with a speech pathologist. Each child identified for help will have an individual plan setting clear goals and timetables. Regular check-ins determine progress, and a discharge plan spells out useful next steps. The entire process engages caregivers every step of the way.

Thom specialists share tips with teachers and parents and carefully monitor results. “Sometimes the intervention is something simple that parents can reinforce,” Cherish explains. “For example, to help develop a baby’s core strength and gross motor skills, you might put the baby on her belly with a toy just out of reach.”

Miss Rachael celebrating with her young student.

These services are free to Ellis and families, with costs covered by the state of Massachusetts. They can be offered within Ellis or, if preferred, they can be offered at home, or in a mix of school and home. Early Intervention can also expand the scope of the services depending on the family’s needs. At times, that might mean helping a family find emergency shelter.

“It can be scary when your child is recommended for early intervention,” Liz acknowledges. “We’re trying to remove the stigma.” Ellis has learned that a little extra support can often make a world of difference. Cherish and Liz estimate that 25-30% of Ellis children – of every race and socio-economic group – have benefited from early intervention services.

“When we say everyone can benefit, we mean everyone,” says CEO Lauren Cook. “Both my daughters received early intervention services during their time as students at Ellis, and it was a tremendous relief to know their needs were being met during their school day. They both ‘screened out’ of services by the time they were three, illustrating the efficacy of the program. I am deeply grateful for our partnership with Thom so all children who need it can receive additional support.”

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