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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 2, Lesson 1

The Early Intervention Team as a System

Early intervention teams are systems. They are complexentities that function as a whole. A change that occurs in onecomponent of the team will affect all other components. To illustrate this point, consider how the following changes mightaffect your work team:

  • A valuable and reliable team member leaves the team
  • A team member becomes pregnant
  • A typically reliable team member begins to arrive late, miss meetings and/or neglect his or her usual duties
  • A new member is added to your team. The new member is friendly, knowledgeable and resourceful.
  • A new member is added to your team. This time, the new member is shy, introverted, and reluctant to express her views.
  • A pervasive conflict develops between two or more team members

All of these events would affect not just the person directly involved, but all members of the team. Depending on the team's response to these changes, services to families may be maintained at a high level or possibly hindered. It is therefore important to be aware of your team's level of functioning. Is open communication and information-sharing the norm in your team? What problems interfere with healthy team functioning?

Family involvement is expected to occur in all stages of early intervention - from first contacts to transition. Family members and/or caregivers are the most important members of the Early Steps team. It is important to note that family involvement and participation will vary. Different families will show different levels of participation. Moreover, the level of participation within a given family may change over time depending on needs and circumstances. Professionals on the Early Steps team should remain as flexible as possible and make every effort to include and involve families every step of the way.

Meetings to develop the Individualized Family Support Plan(IFSP) should not be confused with regular work-related or employee meetings. Families will participate in all Early Steps meetings to develop the IFSP; however, they would rarely attend a work-related or organizational meeting. For example, your workplace may hold staff meetings or retreats for employee sonly. You may also participate in small group projects, council meetings or committee work. In such cases, the 'team' consists of a subset of employees. You will see that the principles of teaming can be applied to all types of teams and settings. Moreover, many traditional conceptualizations of the professional work team can be applied to early intervention teams with families as central team members.

Teaming in All Stages of the Early Steps Process

Effective teaming and collaboration is expected to occur in all stages of the Florida Early Steps system. From first contacts to transition, family members and early intervention professionals are expected to consult with one another on regular basis. Although the members of a particular early intervention team will change over time, the teaming and collaboration process will remain constant. In the Early Steps system, one team member will be designated as the primary service provider. This team member will coordinate the services that are provided to a family.

Florida's Early Steps system emphasizes teaming,family-centered practices and provision of services in everyday routines, activities and places. In the following paragraphs,typical team activities within each stage of the system are described.

 

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