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How Virginia is Helping Service Providers Deliver Good Early Intervention

In her May 19, 2017, New Path blog post, Dana Childress talked about what good early intervention looks like and how you can know if your service provider is using the best early intervention practices. Families want and need to know if what’s happening during an early intervention visit is what’s supposed to be happening. Service providers, their supervisors and local and state program leaders also want and need to know the same thing.

That’s why Virginia will start using what’s called “fidelity assessment” on October 1, 2017. Fidelity assessment is a way to look at whether service providers are using the best early intervention practices. It’s not a provider evaluation activity, though; it’s a professional development or learning activity. Fidelity assessment is a way to be sure providers have the ongoing support they need to deliver good early intervention.

Over time, we learn more and more about what early intervention practices really work the best. That means service providers are always learning new skills and new practices to better help you help your child develop and learn. Learning something new takes time. Usually a provider first goes to a class or training to learn about the new skill or best practice, but then what happens? It takes time, trying it out and ongoing support to help the provider take what he/she learned in the class or training and use it in his/her everyday work with children and families.

Fidelity assessment will give providers a checklist of the best early intervention practices so they can check themselves to be sure they’re really using those best practices with every child and family. Providers also will be observed by an expert in good early intervention and get feedback on how they can improve. If you would like to see the checklist, watch for it to be posted in the Information for Families section of the Infant & Toddler Connection of Virginia website,, in October.


Kyla Patterson is an Early Intervention Policy Consultant at Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services.

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