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Impact of COVID-19 on Illinois Early Intervention (Roberts et al., 2022)

journal contribution
posted on 2022-02-08, 21:50 authored by Megan Y. Roberts, Liane Thornhill, Jordan Lee, Matthew A. Zellner, Laura Sudec, Jeffrey Grauzer, Yael S. Stern
Purpose: We sought to understand the extent of the nationwide disruption to Part C Early Intervention services due to COVID-19 and the subsequent shift to telehealth, primarily through a focused examination of providers’ perspectives on this disruption in a single state, which is Illinois.
Method: To examine the impact of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Early Intervention service provision and implementation, 385 Early Intervention Illinois providers completed a web-based survey. Archival data were used to determine changes in number of Illinois Early Intervention referrals following the pandemic onset and to compare Illinois’ telehealth and stay-at-home policies to those of other states.
Results: The majority (85%) of Illinois Early Intervention providers reported a disruption in service provision during COVID-19. The number of sessions delivered and the number of children per caseload decreased significantly. Provider confidence also decreased significantly. Only 28% of providers reported high confidence with telehealth. Identified benefits of telehealth included increased accessibility and caregiver involvement, whereas limitations included perceived lack of caregiver buy-in. New Illinois Early Intervention referrals and cases were lower during COVID-19 than in the previous year. Prior to 2020, 33 states did not have a permanent reimbursement policy for providing telehealth Early Intervention services. For states with a suspension of in-person Early Intervention services due to COVID-19, time to approval for telehealth reimbursement varied (0–22 days).
Conclusions: The shift to telehealth in Illinois resulted in decreases in service provision and provider confidence across disciplines. However, providers identified some benefits to telehealth. Telehealth may represent a means to increase Early Intervention accessibility following the pandemic.

Supplemental Material S1. Early intervention provider survey questions.

Supplemental Material S2. List of statewide stay-at-home and early intervention telehealth policies.

Roberts, M. Y., Thornhill, L., Lee, J., Zellner, M. A., Sudec, L., Grauzer, J., & Stern, Y. S. (2022). The impact of COVID-19 on Illinois Early Intervention services. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Advance online publication.