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Children's Medical Services - Special services for children with special needs
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Module One: Lesson Two

Service Coordination

Service coordination is the cornerstone of the Early Steps service delivery system. Early Steps assigns a service coordinator to each child and family referred who will assist the family in facilitating and coordinating services through all phases of the service delivery system. Service coordination encompasses planning for and integration of all resources, services, and supports identified in the Individualized Family Support Plan. These services may be those directly linked to the developmental needs of the child or those needs identified as essential to promote the continuity and well-being of the individual child in the context of the family. Service coordination supports families and encourages the family to work toward self-direction and empowerment.

Service coordination is defined by federal and state rules and regulations as well as by philosophical perspectives and current and emerging practice. According to Part C Regulations of the IDEA, 34 CFR, Section 303.23, service coordination (case management) services means the activities carried out by a service coordinator to assist and enable a child eligible under this part and the child's family to receive the rights, procedural safeguards, and service that are authorized to be provided under the State's early intervention program. Service coordination is further defined by Part C as an active, ongoing process that involves the following:

  • Assisting parents of eligible children in gaining access to the early intervention services and other services identified in the Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP)
  • Coordinating the provision of early intervention services and other services (such as medical services for other than diagnostic and evaluation purposes) that the child needs or is being provided
  • Facilitating the timely delivery of available services
  • Continuously seeking the appropriate services and situations necessary to benefit the development of each child being served for the duration of the child's eligibility
  • Facilitating the family's access to knowledge and resources to assist the child reach his or her maximum developmental potential

The service coordinator is responsible for the seven activities listed below. These activities define the primary functions of service coordination under the law.

The Seven Service Coordination Responsibilities

  • Coordinating the performance of evaluations and assessments
  • Facilitating and participating in the development, review, and evaluation of Individualized Family Support Plans
  • Assisting families in identifying available service providers
  • Coordinating and monitoring the delivery of available services
  • Informing families of advocacy services
  • Coordinating with medical and health providers
  • Facilitating the development of a transition plan to preschool services, if appropriate

Section 303.23 Service coordination (case management)

The method of initial assignment/selection of service coordinators is at the discretion of each Local Early Steps. The service coordinator remains the same from first contacts through implementation and transition unless the needs of the child change in such a way that a different service coordinator would better be able to serve the child and family or the family requests a change. Other team members, especially the primary service provider, may be involved in service coordination activities (e.g., providing support, networking, resource identification, etc.) and will have knowledge of procedural safeguards. However, the designated service coordinator is ultimately responsible for meeting all federal, state, and local requirements and ensuring that families have a single point of contact. Early Steps allows the flexibility for individuals to perform the dual role of service coordinator and primary service provider. Any individual applying for dual enrollment as a service coordinator and a direct service provider must meet the specific education, experience and training requirements for each and complete the appropriate application and approval process for each provider class in the Early Steps Provider Enrollment System.


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